According to the National Eating Disorder Association, eating disorders impact 70 million people across the globe. Considering the increasing impact of Instagram influencers and YouTubers, eating disorder numbers seem to be on the rise. Thankfully, there are plenty of books about eating disorders out there that document the struggles of these disorders and display the possibility of recovery for those with the most severe symptoms. Here are some of the most enlightening and empowering options for books on eating disorders out there.
Please note that the following titles might be triggering for those currently struggling with or recovering from eating disorders. These sources also do not take the place of professional healthcare. Reader discretion is advised.
10 Must-Read Books to Read About Eating Disorders
Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia De Rossi
Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of her first Hollywood film. All her hard work brought her to this moment — starting with child modeling in Australia to being cast as a member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside, she was slim, blonde, and successful, but on the inside, she was literally dying. Portia shares her struggles with an eating disorder and how it might feel like being at war with one’s body for those who are diagnosed.
Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia by Harriet Brown
Brave Girl Eating chronicles a family’s struggle with anorexia nervosa. Harriet Brown – journalist, professor, and author – recounts in transparent and horrifying detail her daughter Kitty’s journey from near-starvation to revived health. Brave Girl Eating is an intimate, vulnerable, compelling, and ultimately uplifting book about the ravages of mental illness and the possibility of recovery from anorexia nervosa.
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay has written before about her experience with food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological battles as an avenue of exploration for anxieties about pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane has first-hand experience with the tension between desire and denial, self-control and self-care.
In Hunger, she offers an insightful and critical perspective on her childhood, teens, and twenties, including the devastating act of violence that turned her life upside down and how it impacted her eating behaviors. She vulnerably explores what it means to be overweight in an era when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.
Please Eat…: A Mother’s Struggle to Free Her Teenage Son from Anorexia by Bev Mattocks
Rugby star and popular student, 15-year-old Ben has everything a teenager would want until the once food-loving teen begins to starve himself. At the same time, his urge to exercise became extreme, and in a matter of months, the once capable rugby player lost a quarter of his body weight and plunged into anorexia nervosa.
Ben’s mother, Bev, shares a mother’s heartbreaking yet inspirational account of helplessly witnessing her son’s transformation into someone she did not recognize. She also shares the importance of the help of parents and therapists. Through the combined efforts of those around him and his own determination, Ben slowly began to recover and regain control over his life.
The Body Tourist by Dana Lise Shavin
In this moving and hilarious memoir that covers six years of her recovery from anorexia, Dana Lise Shavin offers a candid and ultimately optimistic perspective on the mindset of a mental illness whose claws sunk deeper into her life long after she was considered “cured” from her eating disorder. While many authors have written vulnerably and eloquently about their struggles with depression, addiction, and eating disorders, those stories usually end when recovery is achieved.
But what about everything that happens when the person rejoins their families, communities, and society? Shavin writes beyond her recovery, detailing how she rejoined the world, engaged with others, and deeply felt again in her body following years of darkness.
How to Disappear Completely by Kelsey Osgood
Osgood’s anorexia nervosa began at 15, following a period of devouring memoirs and magazine articles about the disorder, absorbing as much detail as possible about how little those writers ate, their lowest weights, and their merciless exercise regimes – all to learn how to be the “best anorexic” as possible. Eventually, she found herself hospitalized with the disease, after which she began to question how she could suffer from something she so actively sought after.
How To Disappear Completely is Osgood’s memoir of her decade-long battle with anorexia, detailing her three lengthy hospitalizations and the competitive world of inpatient facilities. With unflinching honesty, Osgood unpacks the many myths of anorexia, eliminating the cult-like undercurrent of eating disorders among young teens as she chronicles her own struggles.
It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell
All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten mindlessly and indulgently. Food was her babysitter, comforter, and best friend. It provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her 20th birthday, and it registered almost 300 pounds, she knew something had to change about the way she viewed food and herself for the sake of her life.
Unlike other books on disordered eating that focus on anorexia, It Was Me All Along takes Mitchell from morbid obesity to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled to finding balance in delicious and modest bowls of pasta in the Romantic streets of Rome. This story is about more than a woman who loved food and hated her body. It’s about someone who changed her situation and discovered the beauty of balance and the truth about true control.
This Mean Disease: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Mother’s Anorexia Nervosa by Daniel Becker
In the first book written by the child of someone who died from an eating disorder, Daniel Becker illustrates the heartbreaking details of his mother’s anorexia nervosa, from her unrelenting obsession with food to her inability to nourish herself. His earliest memory of her is watching as she packs her suitcase for what would only be one of many hospital stays.
From the observations and confusion of a young child to the realization of the helplessness of an adult, Daniel writes an intimate portrayal of how he, his father, and his two brothers struggled to balance loyalty to Mom and to separate from her so she could recover. In the end, Daniel must come to terms with his mother’s decline and begin to lead a life out from under the shadow of his mother’s eating disorder. Among so many books on eating disorder recovery that recounts personal symptoms and struggles, This Mean Disease offers a new perspective on how one can be personally impacted by these diseases without having one.
Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher
Why would a talented young woman enter into a dangerous affair with drugs, sex, hunger, and death? Through five lengthy hospital visits, endless therapy, and the loss of loved ones, jobs, and all sense of “normal,” Marya Hornbacher lovingly embraced anorexia and bulimia - until a horrifying incident with the disease in college forever put away any comfort she found in the diseases.
How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
At 26, Cat Marnell was an associate beauty editor at Lucky, one of the top fashion magazines in the U.S. – and that’s all people knew about her. Underneath her success was a deeper secret. She was a prescription drug addict who struggled with bulimia nervosa and insomnia. How to Murder Your Life begins at a posh New England prep school and a Ritalin prescription for ADHD. It continues to New York, where we follow Marnell’s amphetamine-fueled rise to the editor and, inevitably, to the point when her disease threatened all of her hard work.
Our Philadelphia Eating Disorder Clinic
If left untreated, an eating disorder can not only ruin a person’s life but can end it. If you or someone you know is struggling with a disorder, our rehab in Philadelphia offers eating disorder programs that can help. We offer disorder-specific care for anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and more. The Nourish in Recovery program at our is designed to support clients through recovery from eating disorders they may have.
Even the best books on eating disorder recovery cannot replace professional care. For more information about our eating disorder or addiction treatment, call Banyan Treatment Centers Philadelphia today at 888-280-4763.