If you want to be exposed to new ways of thinking then reading is important.
Books offer people of all ages a convenient way to acquire new information from a diverse range of perspectives.
One question I’m often asked over emails, at conferences and through Instagram is; “what are the best eating disorder books?”
This question doesn’t have a straightforward answer – certain books serve different purposes, so first we need to know what you’re trying to get out of your reading time.
Are you looking for a book that will help you overcome your eating disorder by yourself?
Are you a therapist looking for a book that will teach you how to better treat your clients who have eating disorders?
Are you looking for a book about the lived experience of an eating disorder?
Below, I’ve chosen and compiled 12 of the most useful eating disorder books of all time from each of these categories.
Self-Help Books For Eating Disorder Sufferers
Overcoming Binge Eating (Christopher Fairburn)
Overcoming Binge Eating is, in my opinion, the best self-help book for people struggling with binge eating. The binge eating book contains a psychoeducation component and a structured self-help component, shown to be highly effective. It’s easy to read and follow, and the self-help steps are based on solid evidence.
Getting Better Bite By Bite (Ulrike Schmidt, Janet Treasure, & June Alexander)
Another incredibly useful self-help book for people struggling with bulimia nervosa. Written by arguably two of the most influential eating disorder researchers, this step-by-step self-help book is not only grounded in evidence-based principles, but its warmth, compassion, and understanding towards people with eating disorders is something to applaud.
If Not Dieting, Then What? (Rick Kausmann)
Written be a Melbourne-based medical professional, “If Not Dieting, Then What?” takes a unique approach to helping people address disordered eating by teaching readers about the pitfalls of diet culture and how to properly engage in a sustainable pattern of eating that is guided by internal hunger and satiety cues.
Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works (Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch)
This book provides an excellent account of why dieting – and its emphasis on food rules and regulations – has taken over our lives, contributed to eating disorders, and prevented us from listening to our bodies. This book will teach you how to find satisfaction in your eating, feel your feelings without food, and to honor your hunger and feel fullness.
Eating Disorder Books for Clinicians
Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Eating Disorders (Christopher Fairburn)
This manual takes a transdiagnostic perspective to the treatment of eating disorders. It’s well-written, easy to follow, and contains practical examples for how best to help you and your clients implement the strategies that underpin CBT. Highly recommended for clinicians wanting to fine-tune their CBT skills for this population group.
Brief Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Non-Underweight Patients (Glenn Waller, Hannah Turner, Madeleine Tatham, Victoria Mountford & Tracey Wade)
Written by a team of eating disorder experts with a wealth of experience, this book provides an evidence-based protocol that can be delivered by junior or senior practitioners, helping people with an eating disorder to recover and life a fulfilling life. This book will appeal to clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, dietitians, and nurses.
A Cognitive-Interpersonal Therapy Workbook for Treating Anorexia Nervosa: The Maudsley Model (Ulrike Schmidt, Helen Startup, & Janet Treasure).
This book is based on the authors’ ground-breaking research at London’s Maudsley hospital, providing adults with anorexia nervosa and mental health professionals working alongside them with a practical resource to work through together.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Binge Eating and Bulimia Nervosa (Debra Safer, Christy Telch, & Eunice Chen).
This book gives practitioners a new set of tools for helping clients struggling with binge-eating disorder or bulimia nervosa. If you’re looking for case examples, practical handouts, and detailed explanation on how to implement DBT principles, then this book is worth a read.
Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia And Bulimia (Marya Hornbacher)
One of the first bibliographies I had read, Wasted is the story of a women’s long-standing battle with anorexia nervosa, and her decision to fight for recovery. This book paints an excellent picture for what living with an eating disorder is like, and the constant battles faced on a daily basis.
How To Disappear Completely (Kelsey Osgood)
Through her own decade-long battle with anorexia, which included three lengthy hospitalizations, the author describes the haunting and competitive world of inpatient facilities populated with other adolescents, some as young as ten years old.
Fat Chance (Leslea Newman)
Fat chance is an excellent book that describes the life of a young girl who fantasizes of becoming the thinnest girl at school. This fantasy quickly turns to a dark battle towards obsessively controlling her calories, foods, pounds, and bulimia nervosa.
This book takes the perspective of a mother desperately trying to help her son who is battling anorexia nervosa. This inspirational account documents how the mother watched helplessly as her son transformed into someone she didn’t recognize. It also describes how the young boy eventually recovered and re-built his life.
What’s Your Favorite Eating Disorder Book?
Did I miss any of your favourite eating disorder books in 2020?
If so, comment below telling me:
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The name of the author.