There are a huge number of self-help books for eating disorder recovery that can support you in your journey to getting better. You might use an eating disorder self-help book on its own, or alongside your one-to-one therapy.
There is a lot of misinformation when it comes to eating disorder recovery. Whether you are ready to throw yourself into recovery or are trying to find out more about what recovery might look like for you, you want to make sure that you are reading trusted and evidence-based books.
Here is a list of some of the best and most reputable eating disorder recovery books that are available in 2024.
Eating Disorder Recovery Books for adults
1. Overcoming Binge Eating, 2nd Edition: The Proven Program to Learn Why You Binge and How You Can Stop by Chris Fairburn
Written by Dr Chris Fairburn, Overcoming Binge Eating is one of the eating disorder self-help books most recommended by clinicians in the UK. It starts with an overview of what eating disorders are, what causes them, and what keeps them going. The second half of the book details a full self-help program to implementing change and stopping binge-eating. I recommend this book for all my clients who are doing eating disorder focused CBT for binge-eating disorder, bulimia, or anyone who binges as part of their eating disorder.
2. The Compassionate Mind Approach to Beating Overeating Using Compassion Focused Therapy by Ken Goss
Beating Overeating is written for a wider group of people who struggle with overeating and emotional eating. It introduces the principles of compassion focused therapy and explains the difficulties caused by the mismatch between how our appetite and digestive system are evolved and the modern food environment. The book includes a self-help program designed for people to increase self-compassion and learn to enjoy food again. Note: this book includes discussion of weight loss and is therefore only appropriate for those where this is medically indicated.
3. Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e): A Survival Kit for Sufferers of Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder by Ulrike Schmidt, Janet Treasure and June Alexander
Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e) is another highly recommended and evidence-based self-help program for people looking to recover from bulimia and binge-eating disorder. It is one of the books used for guided self-help programs in the NHS (as is Overcoming Binge Eating) and is written by some of the most highly respected eating disorder specialists in the UK.
4. Beating Your Eating Disorder: A Cognitive Behavioural Self-Help Guide for Adult Sufferers and their Carers by Glen Waller, Victoria Mountford, Rachel Lawson, Emma Gray, Helen Cordery and Hendrik Hinrichsen
Glen Waller is the author of one of the most fundamental CBT for eating disorder therapist manuals and, together with his colleagues, he has created this self-help guide for those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. It starts with an overview of CBT and talks specifically about motivation to recover. As with the other books, it describes a full self-help program but also includes a section specifically for carers (loved ones) including practical advice on how to support the person with the eating disorder.
This book is the first on the list written specifically for recovering from anorexia. Overcoming Anorexia gives background information about anorexia, including causes and treatment. Part two of the book describes the self-help program and includes CBT based skills to tackle thinking patterns, change eating, reduce anxiety and improve body image.
6. A Cognitive-Interpersonal Therapy Workbook for Treating Anorexia Nervosa: The Maudsley Model by Ulrike Schmidt, Helen Startup and Janet Treasure
This workbook is designed for use alongside MANTRA therapy for anorexia and is the recommended companion to anyone undergoing this treatment. It includes an overview of the therapy and the evidence behind and then covers modules covering readiness to recover, sources of support, nutritional health, understanding your anorexia, emotions, relationships, identity, thinking styles and relapse prevention.
Books for Parents and Loved Ones
7. Skills-Based Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder: The New Maudsley Method by Janet Treasure, Gráinne Smith and Anna Crane
This book is the place to start for anyone who is caring for a loved one with an eating disorder and describes the famous ‘animal metaphors’ of caring styles. It is suitable for both adults and children and combines background information about eating disorders with practical advice on supporting and communicating with your loved one.
If you have a child with a restrictive eating disorder then this book is a must. It provides practical advice for parents and caregivers who are supporting their child with family-based treatment for an eating disorder. Even if your child does not restrict their eating, the emotional strategies are likely to still be very relevant and useful. Eva has first-hand experience of support her won daughter recover from anorexia so you can be confident that she understands what parents are going through.
As the title suggests, this book is aimed at parents of teenagers with an eating disorder. It covers why it is important to act straight away, what eating disorders are, how they work, and how the family can support their teenager to get better. It also discusses the importance of seeking professional help and how to work alongside professionals.
10. Breaking Free from Anorexia Nervosa: A Survival Guide for Families, Friends and Sufferers by Janet Treasure
Written by Janet Treasure, one of the leading experts in the field, this book provides a clear explanation of anorexia to help families and friends understand the illness and how to support their loved one. As well as being written for families and friends, it is also written for the person with an eating disorder to read for themselves.
Jenny Langley wrote this book specifically to address the needs of boys, young men and their families with anorexia. She also has first-hand experience parenting her son who developed anorexia age 12. The book is unique in that it first discusses anorexia in boys and then Jenny tells the story of her son.
Books About Related Issues
12. Supporting Autistic People with Eating Disorders: A Guide to Adapting Treatment and Supporting Recovery Edited by Kate Tchanturia
Clinicians are now understanding the link between eating disorders and autism. This book gives an overview of the current evidence and how to adapt the current treatments to best suit people with autism. It will be useful for autistic people and loved ones, however is written primarily with professionals in mind (including a large section on how professionals can adapt their services).
This self-help guide uses CBT to help people tackle body image problems. It provides an extensive program including space to think about where your body image difficulties originated from, what keeps them going, and strategies to improve your relationship with your body by addressing unhelpful thinking patterns and changing behaviour.
14. Living with Your Body and Other Things You Hate: Letting Go of the Struggle with What You See in the Mirror Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Emily Sandoz and Troy DuFrene
Living with your Body and Other Things you Hate uses acceptance and commitment therapy to address body image difficulties. Instead of trying to tackle negative and painful thoughts about body image by directly challenging them, it aims to help people live alongside difficult thoughts and stop them from dominating their lives.
Many people with an eating disorder also struggle with low self-esteem. Melanie Fennell’s book describes what low self-esteem is, what keeps it going, and how to develop a kinder and more accepting view of yourself including the noticing your positive qualities and strengths.
If you find that self-help is not enough, I have written a blog post about how to find a good eating disorder therapist in the UK.
If you think that I might be a good fit for you, feel free to book a free consultation where we can talk about what you’ve been struggling with and how I might be able to help.
Please note that I work with people aged 16+ only. If you are looking for support for your child you can try using the BEAT Helpfinder or Psychology Today directories or contact your GP for a referral to your local NHS service.