Resources For Navigating Eating Disorder Recovery During Isolation
Updated: Apr 21
Hello hello, happy Sunday!
I honestly have to stop and think now about what day it is. I woke up this morning thinking I forgot to wish a friend happy birthday, but turns out her birthday is still days away! I’m lost on time.
Anyways, real talk time! When this whole quarantine/isolation thing first started and I didn’t have to physically go into work anymore, it kinda felt like a vacation. Not that myself and my family weren’t taking covid seriously, but restaurants and bars hadn’t shut down yet and life was still feeling somewhat normal. Whenever I get into “vacation mode” my mind is automatically like, “hey you can eat whatever you want! Snack all day and have cookies and cake for dinner!” Which if I were on actual vacation, this mindset isn’t so bad. Indulgence is part of vacation and at some point vacation ends and you come back to reality. But the thing with covid and quarantine- this is real life and we don’t know when it’s going to end. There’s nothing wrong with indulgence during this time- especially being cooped up at home it’s the perfect time to bake and make fun new desserts, but for me, I was slipping into unhealthy (for myself) eating habits and mentally falling into a place I knew I didn’t want to go. Plus, it wasn’t helping my digestion either.
I think we’ve all come to realize that it’s easy to fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms during this time, whatever that may be for you. And our healthy coping mechanisms right now might not be strong enough or as effective as they were in our “normal life” so we’re kinda stuck feeling poopy and lost and in search of new ways of coping.
I’ve been thinking a lot too about the people out there going through eating disorder treatment and early recovery. I’ve been trying to put myself in their shoes and think how hard it would be for myself right now not being able to go to treatment. (Which can be done virtually, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t have the same effect) Not only is there anxiety around treatment and recovery, but everything else going on in the world- and damn that’s a lot of anxiety. Even me, someone fully recovered, feels the weight of it all.
Not only should you reach out to a therapist and try to have virtual sessions during this time, but there are plenty of books out there that can aid in your recovery. Just because a lot of things have been cancelled, doesn’t mean your recovery should be.
Here is a little list of books/workbooks that helped me during my recovery, and especially during this downtime, you’ll have time to read them all! For these, I couldn't have said it better myself, so I've included quotes from Amazon about the books and workbooks!
8 Keys To Recovery From An Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb
“A unique and personal look into treatment of eating disorders, written by a therapist and her former patient, now a therapist herself.
This is no ordinary book on how to overcome an eating disorder. The authors bravely share their unique stories of suffering from and eventually overcoming their own severe eating disorders. Interweaving personal narrative with the perspective of their own therapist-client relationship, their insights bring an unparalleled depth of awareness into just what it takes to successfully beat this challenging and seemingly intractable clinical issue.
For anyone who has suffered, their family and friends, and other helping professionals, this book should be by your side. With great compassion and clinical expertise, Costin and Grabb walk readers through the ins and outs of the recovery process, describing what therapy entails, clarifying the common associated emotions such as fear, guilt, and shame, and, most of all, providing motivation to seek help if you have been discouraged, resistant, or afraid. The authors bring self-disclosure to a level not yet seen in an eating disorder book and offer hope to readers that full recovery is possible.”
8 Keys To Recovery From An Eating Disorder Workbook by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb
"Readers are walked through strategies by a therapist and her former patient. 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder was lauded as a "brave and hopeful book" as well as "remarkably readable." Now, the authors have returned with a companion workbook—offering all new assignments, strategies, and personal reflections to help those who suffer from an eating disorder heal their relationship to food and their bodies. Clients of Costin and Grabb consistently tell them that knowing they are both recovered is one of the most helpful aspects of their treatment. With this experience as a foundation, the authors bring together years of clinical expertise and invaluable personal testimony, from themselves and others, to the strategies in this book. Readers will get a glimpse of what it's like to be in therapy with either Carolyn or Gwen. Filled with tried and true practical exercises, goal sheets, food journal forms, clinical anecdotes and stories, readers are guided in exploring their thoughts, feelings, and coping strategies while being encouraged to choose how they want to approach the material. This book is an important resource to anyone living with destructive or self-defeating eating behaviors."
The Eating Disorder Sourcebook by Carolyn Costin
"Sound, sensitive advice for overcoming an eating disorder. Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, exercise addictions . . . these disorders can be devastating, but they are in no way unbeatable. Therapist Carolyn Costin, herself recovered from anorexia, brings three decades of experience and the newest research in the field together, providing readers with the latest treatments, from medication and behavioral therapy to alternative remedies. Whether you are living with an eating disorder or you are a loved one or professional helping someone who is, The Eating Disorder Sourcebook will help you: -Recognize and identify eating disorders -Discover and work with the underlying causes of an eating disorder -Make the right choices when comparing treatment options -Understand what is expected in individual, group, and family therapy -Know when outpatient treatment is not enough and what else can be done."
Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb
"For a girl growing up in Beverly Hills in 1978, the motto “You can never be too rich or too thin” is writ large. Precocious Lori learns her lessons well, so when she’s told that “real women don’t eat dessert” and “no one could ever like a girl who has thunder thighs,” she decides to become a paragon of dieting. Soon Lori has become the “stick figure” she’s longed to resemble. But then what? Stick Figure takes the reader on a gripping journey, as Lori struggles to reclaim both her body and her spirit. By turns painful and wry, Lori’s efforts to reconcile the conflicting messages society sends women ring as true today as when she first recorded these impressions. “One diet book says that if you drink three full glasses of water one hour before every meal to fill yourself up, you’ll lose a pound a day. Another book says that once you start losing weight, everyone will ask, ‘How did you do it?’ but you shouldn’t tell them because it’s ‘your little secret.’ Then right above that part it says, ‘New York Times bestseller.’ Some secret.” Based on the author’s childhood journals, Stick Figure is “a smart, funny, compassionate” (Entertainment Weekly) tale that delivers an engrossing glimpse into the mind of a girl in transition to adulthood and a powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of living up to society’s expectations."
Life Without ED by Jenni Schaefer
"Jenni had been in an abusive relationship with Ed for far too long. He controlled Jenni's life, distorted her self-image, and tried to physically harm her throughout their long affair. Then, in therapy, Jenni learned to treat her eating disorder as a relationship, not a condition. By thinking of her eating disorder as a unique personality separate from her own, Jenni was able to break up with Ed once and for all. Inspiring, compassionate, and filled with practical exercises to help you break up with your own personal E.D., Life Without Ed provides hope to the millions of people plagued by eating disorders. Beginning with Jenni's "divorce" from Ed, this supportive, lifesaving book combines a patient's insights and experiences with a therapist's prescriptions for success to help you live a healthier, happier life without Ed."
Body of Truth by Harriet Brown
"Over the past twenty-five years, our quest for thinness has morphed into a relentless obsession with weight and body image. In our culture, "fat" has become a four-letter word. Or, as Lance Armstrong said to the wife of a former teammate, "I called you crazy. I called you a bitch. But I never called you fat." How did we get to this place where the worst insult you can hurl at someone is "fat"? Where women and girls (and increasingly men and boys) will diet, purge, overeat, undereat, and berate themselves and others, all in the name of being thin? As a science journalist, Harriet Brown has explored this collective longing and fixation from an objective perspective; as a mother, wife, and woman with "weight issues," she has struggled to understand it on a personal level. Now, in Body of Truth, Brown systematically unpacks what's been offered as "truth" about weight and health. Starting with the four biggest lies, Brown shows how research has been manipulated; how the medical profession is complicit in keeping us in the dark; how big pharma and big, empty promises equal big, big dollars; how much of what we know (or think we know) about health and weight is wrong. And how all of those affect all of us every day, whether we know it or not. The quest for health and wellness has never been more urgent, yet most of us continue to buy into fad diets and unattainable body ideals, unaware of the damage we're doing to ourselves. Through interviews, research, and her own experience, Brown not only gives us the real story on weight, health, and beauty, but also offers concrete suggestions for how each of us can sort through the lies and misconceptions and make peace with and for ourselves."
The No Worries Workbook by Molly Burford
"From global warming to FOMO (fear of missing out) and social anxiety to Instagram envy, we all have a lot to worry about, both now and in the future. Worry and stress can feel overwhelming and affect many parts of our daily lives, but most problems can be dealt with in small, bite-sized, and even playful ways. The No Worries Workbook guides you through fun and creative coping exercises that you can do whenever you start to feel the worry take over. Doing a little at a time every day, can help you get through each day with less worry and more productivity. Setting small goals, keeping track of your everyday accomplishments, making personal aromatherapy tools, and doodling, are all activities that can help you breathe and sleep easier—and ultimately worry less. This friendly, fun take on different stress-free activities will help you manage your worries and allows you to be mindful of all the positives in your day-to-day life. With creative activities, quotes, journal prompts, and light cognitive exercises, you’ll have all the tips and tricks you need to stop the chronic worrying and start enjoying life."
I know some of these descriptions are long, but I wanted to give the clearest, articulate and concise telling of the books as possible. I LOVE all of these books and each has been a building block in my recovery. If you are in treatment or very early recovery, I'd do a bit more research on some of the narratives to ensure you feel comfortable enough reading. Maybe even downloading a sample! Even if some did make me uncomfortable, they made me feel like I wasn't alone and showcased the true reality behind eating disorders. There is quite variety amongst these books, as you get history, science and facts, narratives, and workbooks. Something for everyone and for each stage of recovery!