If you’re reading this because you’re in the midst of recovering from an eating disorder, well done. I know the road is tough, but I promise it gets easier.
If you’re reading this and haven’t yet committed to recovery, well done. I was there once too and can look back now and say it’s the baby steps we take that lead to the greatest healing.
If you’re reading this because you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder and you want to help them, well done. I can’t emphasize enough, how important it is to feel loved and accepted when battling an eating disorder.
And lastly, if you’re reading this simply because I said you should, well done. Thanks for being a good friend and source of support.
The best part about writing this blog post was not only recognizing the podcasts, books, and people who’ve contributed to my recovery from anorexia, bulimia, and exercise addiction, but recognizing also, the tough choices and hard work it took every time I hit play on a podcast, picked up a book, or gave my attention to an Instagram post I needed to hear. And to that I say, glory be to God. It doesn’t matter what resources I list in this post because at the end of the day, it’s His grace and deeper calling for my life that led me out of the trenches of disordered eating and into my true identity.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2v8-10).
May these resources help guide you toward greater riches and beautiful flowers in your own life, and in the lives of others.
1. The Recovery Warriors Podcast
I can’t remember how exactly I came across this podcast. I think one day I just searched “eating disorders” into the podcast search engine and decided to give it a listen. Not because I was ready to say “yes” to recovery. In a lot of ways, I thought I had already recovered. I think more so, I was after comfort and acceptance—two things I struggled to find most during my recovery. I also became obsessed with pinning down my exact diagnosis. I believed I had to have it all figured out before I could let people into my struggle. All it took was one episode of The Recovery Warriors podcast, and I was hooked. I couldn’t stop listening. I’d turn an episode on when I was cooking, when I was running, walking on the beach (this is when I lived in Australia), riding my bike to uni, and laying in bed at night.
Jessica Flint is the host of the podcast (a recovery warrior herself) and brings on women from all different walks of life to cover several topics involving eating disorder recovery: Intuitive eating, diet culture, yoga, pregnancy, menstrual cycles, shame, grief, anxiety, and depression. She also brings in her love for astrology, offers free classes, and has her own website where she shares content from other writers, artists, and recovery warriors. I actually wrote an article that got published on her website awhile back. You can find it here. So far, Jessica’s work has reached 184 countries! The bottom line is, this podcast changed my life and it’s what took my recovery to a deeper level. Hearing from woman who had been in my shoes—who had identical experiences or ones alike—made me realize I wasn’t alone, crazy, and as bruised as I thought. I promise I won’t go on forever about the rest of the resources like I have about this one, but I do want to encourage you if you’re struggling with an eating disorder or know someone who is, to listen to a few episodes of this podcast. Emotional intelligence is a powerful thing and we can never have too much of it.
2. The Well and Weird Podcast
The Well and Weird podcast is all about the relationships we have with food, health, beauty and our body, and how we can work to positively change those relationships. The best thing about this podcast is (in my opinion) the host, Holly Lowery. As someone who has struggled with her own fair share of unbalanced relationships in the eating disorder arena, Holly speaks out of pure vulnerability and transparency. I’ve learned a lot from her about intuitive eating, what true self care looks like, and how I can practice it on a daily basis. In a few of the episodes I’ve listened to, she uses research to deconstruct certain articles wrote on diet trends, where she explains why the message being conveyed in the article is absolute folly. She also speaks of health at every size and through compassion, teaches her listeners how to accept, love, and grow themselves away from disordered eating and into freedom and healing. You can check out the Well and Weird website for more information here.
3. The Let’s Thrive Podcast
My dear friend from Instagram, Emily Feikls, is the founder of this the Let’s Thrive podcast and started it less than a year ago. Every Wednesday she releases a new podcast where she talks with her guests about all things relating to health and wellness. You’ll hear from Instagram influencers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and more. I love this podcast because of how casual it is. Whenever I’m listening, it feels like I’m in the same room with Emily and whoever she is having a conversation with. Not because I know her and she is my friend, but because of just how relatable and real both her and her guests are. What I’ve gained most from the Let’s Thrive podcast, is the confidence to do the things that scare me, more freedom from disordered eating, ideas for how to use my story to help others, tips for improving my skin and anxiety, and education on specific health conditions involving the gut.
1. Eating in the Light of the Moon, by Anita Johnston
This is the first book I ever read on eating disorders. I first heard about it on The Recovery Warriors Podcast and after learning how much it helped one of the woman on there, I decided I’d look into it. That’s another thing I want to say about the podcasts I listed above…is that they were all useful for the purpose of pointing me toward other tools, resources, and influencers—including this one. Anita has a true gift and continually had me turning the page. This book expresses the importance of processing feelings and embracing our femininity. Through storytelling, I learned for the first time what following my intuition actually means and walked away feeling more confident and prepared to bravely confront the gunk in my life and unleash my true self. This is a good read for those who haven’t ever faced an eating disorder too. I found it nice and easy to pick up at all times in the day: Morning, noon, and night.
2. Hunger, by Roxane Gay
The first thing I’ll say about this book, is don’t read it if you can’t handle naked honesty. This book will grab at your emotions in a powerful way. Roxane shares the story of her childhood trauma, and psychological and emotional battles to portray how they affected her relationship with food and her body. She gives raw details of her experience living in a fat body, inside of a fat-phobic world. It’s not a self-help, how-to read, but it’s a refreshing story of a woman who will inspire you to accept the reality of your own body. I connected so many of the dots to my own eating disorder through this book and still reflect back on quotes I noted down while reading it. Here’s just one:
“It is a powerful lie to equate thinness with self-worth. Clearly, this lie is damn convincing because the weight loss industry thrives. Women continue to try and bend themselves to societal will. Women continue to hunger. And so do I” (Gay, 2017, p. 136).
3. Lighter Than My Shadow, by Katie Green
A graphic memoir that tells a moving story of a girl who overcame the dark voice of anorexia. Not only did this book help me empathize with my younger, starving self, but it helped me empathize with other women who’ve fell victim to eating disorders, body dysmorphia, the achievement trap, and sexual assault. I had tears running down my cheeks at times, and pursed lips while holding my breath at other times because of how relatable I found Katie’s story to be. Her memoir reminded me of the messy journey that recovery is. It’s not linear. It’s not clean. And it’s not easy. It’s hard, it’s scary, and it’s damn intense at times…especially for someone who has used their disorder as a source of control for so long. Because it’s a graphic memoir, you will find this book a quick and easy read with beautiful illustrations to follow along.
4. The Gifts Of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
I’m a Type 1 on the Enneagram, a personality tool that outlines 9 different personality types and is based on the ulterior motives that guide our actions each day. Some numbers on the Enneagram are fighting a war with achievement, fear, envy, or the desire to feel “needed,” but the war I’m fighting is with perfection. Type 1’s are most often called the “perfectionists” or the “reformers” and strive to do all things right or perfect. We tend to be black and white thinkers who value justice and often contribute good to the world through an assortment of leadership positions, but we tend also, to forget our worth is not dependent on works. We have a voice (sometimes voices) in our head—an inner critic that yells louder than most—telling us to do, do, do and to be, be, be. A big reason for the onset and continuation of my eating disorder had to do with my personality type and the constant pressure I felt to obey my inner critics (what I refer to as monsters). Reading Brene’s book led me through a handful of exercises to help quiet the voices, accept my imperfection, prioritize play, and to move toward a life of joy and gratitude.
Brene is a shame researcher and will blow you away with the knowledge she’s gained through studies she’s both conducted and observed. She’s open about her own journey throughout the book and has a sense of humor that will leave you feeling refreshed and comforted. One of the number one ways we can practice shame resilience, Brene says, is by recognizing we’re not alone in our struggles and how we do that is through vulnerability.
5. Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown
Another amazing read on the “how to,” actionable side of practicing vulnerability. I read this book before I read The Gifts of Imperfection and if I was going to do it over again, I’d read the Gifts beforehand. This order is also recommended by Brene. Regardless of the order you read them in however, you are guaranteed to be enlightened by plenty nuggets of knowledge and research on the courage it requires to open up and be transparent with others. This book was especially helpful in understanding how “daring greatly” is the key to contentment, freedom, and healing. I spent so long hiding from vulnerability because of how much it scared me and although I have yet to find being open easier, each time I do allow others into my brokenness, I’m met with so much compassion.
“Shame is highly correlated with addiction violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying…when we’re hurting, either full of shame or even just feeling the fear of shame, we are more likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors and to attack or shame others” (Brown, 2012, p.73).
If you want to overcome shame, lead others, live peacefully and love well, this book is for you.
“A social wound needs a social balm, and empathy is that balm. Self-compassion is the key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re more likely to reach out, connect, and experience empathy” (Brown, 2012, p.75).
6. The Road Back To You, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
I spoke earlier of the Enneagram my personality type. To everyone who is new to learning about the Enneagram, this is the book I recommend you start with. Because the Enneagram is based on ulterior motives, taking a free online quiz most likely will lead you in the wrong direction. Reading a book on all of the types and understanding more depth to each number, I (and others) believe is the best way to discovery your type. I know some people get weirded out by personality stuff, but just like any other tool it can be used for both good and bad. The book talks about this more in depth, but I confidently want to say that discovering my Enneagram number was a major key to recovering from my eating disorder. Unlike other personality tools out there, the Enneagram focuses on your good qualities…and it also focuses on your more poor qualities. Things holding you back from being the person you were created to be. This book taught me why living in my shoes is sometimes hard, where I fail and fall, and how I can grow and pick myself up off the ground when I do fall. There’s also a podcast which I recommend checking out. Both are incredible resources I have faith, will guide and nourish your soul.
7. Personality Types, by Don Richard Riso
A deeper exploration into each Enneagram number. I recommend you read this book after familiarizing yourself with the Enneagram and learning (or at least having a good idea) of what number you identify most with.
I want to end this post by leaving you with the top 15 Instagram accounts (listed in no particular order) that have helped me in some capacity throughout my recovery. These are women who’re using their voice, experience, and education to empower others toward their most healthy self. I’m so grateful for Instagram being a platform where I can meet such like minded people who—while still having their unique struggles and story—have continued to inspire me to be a better version of myself. I’d encourage you to check out the below accounts. On their feeds you will be sure to find: Lessons on self acceptance, shared recipes that are both nutritious and delicious, powerful stories, interesting facts and knowledge, mental health awareness, and more.