I wanted to share with you all a big old list of things, from books to apps to courses to podcasts, that I’ve found helpful as I inch along this journey (spew) of finding my way forward from chronic dieting, learning to take better care of my long-suffering bod, while also working on this binge eating shenanigans.
I’ve been faffing around with this list for months, and I’m not sure why I didn’t hit publish sooner because a blog post is not set in stone! I can add more things as I remember, and I’d love if you’d share anything you’ve personally found helpful for similar journeys, in the comments. The more the merrier!
Let me slather this with the usual disclaimers. This is stuff that has either helped me, or that has helped good folks that I know. It’s not a ringing endorsement of every word. Sometimes it’s just one chapter or episode that produced a nugget of gold. Also, there are no affiliate links.
The Difference Between Body Love and Body Respect. I don’t know about you but after a lifetime of being told your body is a problem to be solved, concepts like body love or body positivity feel alien (not to mention how those hashtags are dominated by those who fit the cultural ideal anyway). I’ve found idea like body neutrality or body respect far more helpful and healing. This post by Brenna O’Malley explains the terms in this post and includes practical ways to start to practice body respect. Added February 2020.
How To Stop Binge Eating – this comprehensive post from Leora Fulvio shares her recovery story and has a really great list at the end called How Did I Recover From Binge Eating? in which she lists 16 specific things she did to help her recover. I have read that list so many times in the past year. There’s a lot of great ideas but it always reminds me how recovery is a multi-pronged project that takes time and experimentation. Added November 2018.
Trust Your Body – this is a single episode of the Dear Sugars advice podcast, co-hosted by Cheryl “Wild” Strayed. A listener asks, “I struggle with how to be body positive after years of being told it’s wrong to be my size and weight. Is there such a thing as unconditional body acceptance?”. Hilary Kinavey and Dana Sturtevant of Be Nourished came on the show to help answer.
They talk about the “diets to donuts” phase that many folks have when they realise they’re done with dieting, but what’s great is that they talk about the place in between those extremes that we’re aiming for – they call that discernment.
If you’ve ever felt shame or frustration about the size or shape of your body, while simultaneously tired as f*ck from constantly trying to “fix” it to be more palatable to society, and/or if you’re bored of the space the struggle takes up in your head, while simultaneously not knowing how the hell to do things differently… you may enjoy this episode. I found this to be a poignant and helpful conversation.
Registered Nutritionist Laura Thomas of Don’t Salt My Game published two short episodes about Intuitive Eating. The first What the Eff is the Deal With Intutive Eating? is a great, bullshit-free primer that clear explains what it is and what it is not, how to get started and what disordered eating is. In the second episode Will Intuitive Eating Help Me Lose Weight + Other FAQs tackles some great questions, including what if you don’t experience regular hunger & fullness cues? I also really loved her previous interview, The Inside Scoop on Intuitive Eating w/ Evelyn Tribole, Co-Author of Intuitive Eating. Added August 2018.
The Done Bingeing Podcast – This is a practical and compassionate podcast by Martha Ayim. She was a secret binge eater for over 30 years, to the point of having her jaw wired at one point. I was in a bleak and desperate place when I found Martha’s work last year and she gave me a lot of hope. While there are a lot of great podcasts out there that deal with eating issues and non-diet approaches, I’m often in a different demographic or in a larger body size to the hosts so I can’t always quite connect. Martha was the first person I’d ever come across with a similar severity and duration of binge history, only she’d managed to find a way forward and now generously shares a lot of great information.
If you go right back to Episode 1 and listen chronologically, she guides you through a process, step by step. There’s also a transcript in the show notes of each episode if you prefer to read your way through.
Note: there is occasionally talk of weight loss in this podcast.
Insatiable – hosted by Ali Shapiro, it’s a podcast “for progressive, holistic health-care providers and real people fed up with fixing and fighting food”. So far I’ve only listened to this excellent episode about how to stop nighttime eating so far, including a bit about why advice like “take a bubble bath if you feel shit at the end of the day” can be so fecking unhelpful. I’m going to try some more episodes.
Fearless Rebelle Radio – “a podcast dedicated to body image, body positivity, self-worth, anti-dieting and feminism”, hosted by Summer Innanen. I’ve only just started listening to this one but my friend Denise recommended it highly and she’s never steered me wrong!
For a practical primer, Body Kindness: Transform Your Health from the Inside Out–and Never Say Diet Again by Rebecca Scritchfield is full of useful tools. She uses the concept of “spiralling up” – small, sustainable changes building upon each other. She also has a Spiral Up Club if you want support, loads of free resources, and of course her free podcast too (of which I am the producer – client disclosure! 🙂 ).
Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating: Mindful Eating Program for Healing Your Relationship with Food & Your Body by Michelle May and Kari Anderson. I’ve just started reading this one and finding it to be very practical.
Intuitive Eating, 3rd edition by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I first read it in 2010 and it’s taken me eight years to wrap my head around the ideas within and start putting them into practice, such is the grip that diet culture has on one’s brain.
A top tip I heard via Jes Baker is to skip the chapters on Gentle Nutrition and Exercise if you’re just starting out, and just focus on absorbing and experimenting with the earlier principles. This stuff takes time. If you dive into the nutrition stuff too soon it can really get in the way of tuning into your body signals, which can lead to one turning intuitive eating into yet another diet (which is exactly what I did ;).
I found this newer companion book even better – The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. There is something so thrilling about writing inside a book! I’ve been working my way through this book in a slow and steady fashion. The step by step exercises helped me see the patterns in my behaviour. There was one exercise in which I had to list all the diets I’d been on, alongside my weight over the years. After seeing the diet/binge cycle in black and white, I could no longer argue with reality!
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff – I bought this book after the self compassion class at Green Mountain, curious to learn more. I thought that self compassion = self indulgence; letting oneself off the hook. But Dr Neff dives into why this is not the case, and the tangible and research-proven benefits of being kinder to ourselves. Basically it starts with talking to yourself like you would a good friend. Instead of constant trash talking, which I have to admit has got me bloody nowhere.
Dr Neff’s TED Talk The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion is also a good watch.
Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating: A Step-By-Step Guide to Healing by Leora Fulvio is another good practical guide. She also has an online course if you want more support.
Books on the To Be Read pile
I really should finish one freaking book before I start another but… och well!
- Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon. For years when I heard the term Health At Every Size® I’d think, Pffft! not at MY size! Then I started to read the book that sparked the movement, and my views were challenged by actual science and research. I’m still working my way through this one.
- UPDATE: Linda Bacon says on her website of the original Health At Every Size Book: “As proud as I am of the book, I’m also aware of some of its shortcomings, including some of the ways in which it transmits my unexamined privilege and does damage. To acknowledge the ways my view has changed, and to advance the field, I co-authored a second book, Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, or Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight, with Lucy Aphramor.” Okay, I need to check this one out!
- The Compassionate Mind Approach to Beating Overeating – by Kenneth Gross. There’s that C word again. This book was highly recommended by my friend Helen, a clinical psychologist
- Brain Over Binge by Kathryn Hansen
- Fit at Mid-Life: A Feminist Fitness Journey by Samantha Brennan and Tracy Isaacs – another recommendation from my friend Denise.
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living and Landwhale by Jes Baker. I’ve only just started these but they came highly recommended! Update: I’m halfway through Landwhale now and I bloody love Jes Baker. Also, check out her posts about intuitive eating on her Instagram Story highlights – she shares some great stuff about her own foray into IE.
Recovery Record – I’ve been working with a dietitian and I wanted a digital means of sharing my food diary with her. I asked, Can I just use MyFitnessPal but not look at the numbers!? That was a hard no from her. She introduced me to Recovery Record, a free app. It’s a bit daggy in design I gotta say, but it’s a powerful recovery tool. As well as keeping a log of your meals you can track thoughts, feelings, any binge/restrict urges, any moments of disordered eating, all in a gentle and totally non-judgy way.
My favourite features are 1) being able to just snap a photo of your meal instead of typing stuff our and 2) if you are working with a clinician who also uses the app, they can check in with you, see your diary, post you messages. I’m finding it very helpful for where I’m at right now.
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It’s time to update you on my previously neverending search for a food awareness/tracking app that is compatible with my nutrition counselling style. . What I wanted was the simplest of simple apps, where the minimum required would be snapping a photo. You could do it while out with friends and it would be no more time consuming than snapping a pic for Instagram. I also didn’t want any food numbers in there (calories, macros etc.), even as an option. I worked through a few apps and although some were adequate they all had something I didn’t like, the main thing being that every one required some form of compulsory data input on top of snapping the photo. This led to clients leaving out days or meals when short on time or they weren’t in the mood to be mindful – and those can be the meals that are most important to track. Then I found Ate App (by www.youate.com) and I love it. ♥️ I have been using it with clients for the last 8 months. . Ate app is basically a visual tracking diary. You can input a photo or text at any time and look back over the day and see what you ate and how long it was between meals (very handy for people learning about hunger and fullness). Optionally you can input mindfulness parameters such as hunger, satisfaction, where you were and who you ate with. Data can be shared. . There is one feature that I don’t really like and that is by default you must enter your meal as ‘on path’ or ‘off path’ and I delayed using it with clients because of this. However, it is actually no biggie just to mark everything as on path, and client feedback is that this is even psychologically helpful, reinforcing that whatever they ate was totally ok. . #notsponsored at all, but if you’re looking for the easiest food record app of all time, I’d recommend Ate app. It’s 👍👍 from me.
Nomo – Last year where getting through just ONE day without bingeing felt impossible, I found this app helpful. After years of My Fitness Pal and other “friends”, I felt compelled to count something.
It’s designed with addictions in mind, like alcohol, drugs or smoking, but has options to add your own thing. Seeing the streak of Not Bingeing days was hugely motivating, for a good 150 days.
I would say that you should know thyself with this app and decide if it’s helpful for your or the opposite. When I “fell off the wagon” on Day 151, I let that mess with my head and struggled to “get back on”. My thoughts were a blur, what defines a binge? Is it the amount or the way that I ate the food? What’s Bad enough to reset the counter? I got caught in a negative, all-or-nothing diet-esque mentality again, so no more Nomo for me.
Also, it’s really quite knackering to have your aim to be simply “don’t binge”. My therapist suggested instead I focus on adding good stuff in to my life. It’s those pesky twinkle lights, y’all.
Embrace – “is a social impact documentary that explores the issue of body image”. We watched this at Green Mountain and I thought it was great – funny, thought-provoking. It is on Netflix in the US and the website has details on where you can watch it in other countries.
Feeding Freedom – “is a group coaching programme that will help you loosen the hold that secret eating has on you by bringing it into the light” – run by my kickarse friend Shona Macpherson. Also, check out this video of her recently solo 16-day walk of the Cape Wrath Trail in northwest Scotland.
Green Mountain’s blog has some fantastic posts in the archives that cover different aspects of eating, moving and living with lots of practical advice.
In case you missed it – my post Emotional eating, binge eating and friends – some definitions has some helpful definitions if this is all a bit WTF.
UPDATE 9 August. I can’t believe I forgot to include the “feisty anti-diet feminist” @healingcrayons on Instagram. Her collages always hit home for me.
When I move away from the expectations of who I “should” be, I lean into who I am. That is some precious and powerful stuff. When I moved away from being my own personal project, other things began to matter more to me. These have included: family, community, human rights, body positivity, feminism, special education and mental health awareness. The world needs my participation and it feels wonderful to be a part of something bigger than me. #antidiet #bodypositive #intuitiveeating #fatphobia #selfacceptance #edrecovery #eatingdisorderrecovery #thisisrecovery #thisisconfidence
Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels