10 soulful books for eating disorder recovery and other food, weight and body image concerns
There are hundreds of books on eating disorder recovery but how do you know which ones are the most useful for seeing the whole person?
After 20+ years preoccupied with yo-yo dieting and disordered eating, a recovery journey and then training as a psychotherapist – in 2008 – I completed my Master’s thesis, Call off the search: Eating disorders a symptom of psychospiritual crisis.
The context that I hold throughout my research is that eating disorders are a serious sickness of the soul – not a disease, mental illness or mental disorder – these are terms that are widely used within a disease and medical based model; a model that is seriously pathologising at times and failing many who suffer not only with eating disorders but those who struggle with other food, weight, exercise and body image concerns.
Viewing eating problems in this way is not a new phenomenon – transpersonal and psycho-spiritual schools of thought have held this context since at mid last century! The great news…there is an increasing base of evidence to support this way of healing and working with food, weight and body image issues.
As part of my own recovery journey and subsequent research, I have read countless books for eating disorder recovery and other food, weight and body image concerns. The tips you will find in these books for recovery are based on depth self-exploration, care of the soul, intuition and mindfulness.
Eating In The light Of The moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship With Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling
by Anita Johnston Ph.D.
Anita Johnston has helped millions of women around the globe through her eating disorder recovery treatment programs, conferences, retreats, online women’s circles and her soulful book, Eating In the Light of the Moon. She weaves together multicultural myths, folktales and legends with depth of insight and practical, transformational exercises. Eating In the Light of the Moon will nourish your body, mind and spirit.
You can participate in the Light of the Moon Café online.
Women, Food and God: : An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything
by Geneen Roth
Geneen Roth, one of my favourite authors on eating difficulties, writes that food, diet and weight related issues are an attempt to fix something that has never been broken. I couldn’t agree more – we are already good and whole; our journey is to realise this!
Women Food and God comes with guidelines to help you change your relationship with food for good. This book is a great resource regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs.
Addiction to Perfection
by Marion Woodman
I first heard of Jungian analyst, Marion Woodman throughout my psychotherapy training and have personally attended her BodySoul Rhythms® Intensives. Woodman’s work holds the context that a hunger for spiritual fulfilment is at the root of all addictions and eating disorders.
Addiction to perfection addresses the hidden causes of compulsion through case studies, dreams and myths. Woodman teaches that through discovering the wisdom and power of the feminine, it is possible to find freedom from addiction and eating disorders.
Fat is a Feminist Issue
by Susie Orbach
Suggested to me by my therapist many years ago, Fat is a Feminist Issue is the first book that I read about fat that wasn’t a diet book! It will change the way you think about fat by challenging dominant mindsets about dieting, weight and body image. Susie Orbach discusses from a feminist perspective what it means to be feminine, nurturing, sexy and confident. Fat is a Feminist Issue will help you on your way to body acceptance as well as helping to calm your anxieties about food. I also love her other books: Hunger Strike and On Eating.
Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight
by Linda Bacon
‘Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates “thin” with “healthy” is the problem. The solution? Health at Every Size (Amazon).’
Based on scientific evidence, this book will show you how to give up the battle with fat, tune in to your body, boost health and self-esteem, find joy in movement and feel good in your body right now…regardless of your size.
Health at Every Size turns what you think you know about health and weight on its head.
Father Hunger: Fathers, Daughters, and the Pursuit of Thinness
by Margo Maine
Many books on eating disorders have largely focused on the relationship with the mother – this is only part of the story. In Father Hunger, Margo Maine explores the emptiness experienced by women whose fathers were physically or emotionally absent—a void that leads to unrealistic body image, yo-yo dieting, food fears and disordered eating patterns. I love this easy to read book!
by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
This book is full of feminine spirit; it is nurturing, compassionate and provides essential tips for overcoming your obsession with dieting, weight and food. Written by two nutritionists with over 30+ years of experience, Intuitive Eating will guide you towards rebuilding a healthy body image, making peace with food, honouring your hunger and coping with your emotions without using food.
50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food
by Susan Albers PsyD
50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, is jam packed with mindfulness skills, practices for relaxing the body in times of stress and ending your dependence on eating as a means of coping with difficult emotions. This book will help you to distinguish between emotion-driven hunger and physical hunger. The layout makes it a great book for snacking on!
It’s Not about Food: End Your Obsession with Food and Weight
by Carol Normandi & Laurelee Roark
If you are struggling with worries such as what to eat on a daily basis, dieting, loathing your body, looking outside of yourself to feel better – then this book is for you. It’s Not About the Food will help you to understand your relationship with food, your feelings and your thoughts. You will learn how to honour your physical body as well as your spiritual self.
Do you need support for your eating problems?
For years eating disorder sufferers have heard that they are ‘difficult to work with’, ‘stubborn’ and that their ‘disease’ or ‘mental illness’ is for life. This is not my experience personally or professionally. Over the last fifteen years I have witnessed many women heal, blossom and grow. If you are suffering – it is imperative that you find a treatment program with soul and a psychotherapist who can work at depth with the underlying issues. For residential treatment, check out Byron Private Addiction and Eating Disorder Treatment Centre
Join the wait list for my online course: TRANSFORM YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD, BODY & SOUL®