Reading List

Suggested Reading List

There is so much written about eating disorders in general that when you first look you don’t know where to start. My child psychiatrist made a couple of recommendations and I found the EDA list very useful. These are the specific books that I found very useful when my son was ill.

New books for 2008

The Invisible Man: A Self help guide for men with eating disorders, compulsive exercise and bigorexia (By John Morgan Publ:Routledge)

This book applies the latest research to produce a practical, problem focused self help manual for men with eating disorders and body image problems. John Morgan has used his wealth of experience in the eating disorder arena to produce a book that really understands the issues men face and that provides a very readable guide for men seeking to combat their eating and body image issues.

Eating Disorders: The Path to Recovery (by Dr Kate Middleton Publ: Lion)

This is a refreshing new book by the director of the charity Anorexia & Bulimia Care. This book is essential reading for sufferers, their families and friends and also anyone interested in getting a real insight into the world of eating disorders. Writing from her experience of working with sufferers and drawing extensively on case histories Kate Middleton offers practical guidance for setting out on the road to recovery.

New books for 2007

Families, Carers and Professionals: Building Constructive Conversations (By Grainne Smith Publ: John Wiley)

This is a great new book for anyone caring for someone with challenging behaviour. This might be someone with an eating disorder or any other ongoing disorder or mental health condition. Quoting from real anonymous case studies from interviews, telephone helplines, as well as psychological research and home experience, this book provides lots of practical tips and advice including sample carer diary outlines. This book will help you communicate effectively with your loved one even when faced with very challenging and extreme behaviour!

Skills Based Learning for Caring for a Loved One With an Eating Disorder: The New Maudsley Method (By Janet Treasure, Grainne Smith and Anna Crane, Publ: Routledge)

Following on from the Survival Guide for families, friends and sufferers of anorexia nervosa, Janet Treasure and her team have put together another invaluable book for carers. The combination of practical suggestions, real life situations and a sound theoretical basis in the Maudsley model make this book equips carers with the skills and knowledge needed to support and encourage their loved ones, and to help them break free from the traps that can so often prevent recovery from an eating disorder.

New book from EDA – published June 2006

‘Eating disorders: Helping Your Child Recover’. – Edited by Steve Bloomfield

The combined experience of the Eating Disorders Association helpline workers along with the real-life wisdom of parents who have helped their own child recover from an eating disorder has been skilfully turned into a practical manual for parents who find themselves dealing with a young sufferer.

The book has been written with the help of an extensive panel of advisors including invaluable input from health professionals working with these challenging disorders every day.

Chapters in the book explore how it feels to have an eating disorder; how it will affect you, the carer; information about caring for your child; dealing with food, eating and mealtimes; explaining what eating disorders are; outlining treatment and care options; and the recovery process. It also includes a useful list of contacts and sources of further information.

(1) General Background Reading and Self Help Guides:

Understanding Eating Disorders (Dr Bob Palmer, The British Medical Association)

You can buy this in most chemists, it is one of the “Family Doctor Series and provides an excellent introduction to the world of eating disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa A survival guide for families, friends and sufferers (Janet Treasure, Brunner-Routledge)

Janet Treasure is a leading consultant psychiatrist specialising in eating disorders in the UK. Her book provides useful background on anorexia followed by separate section for carers, for sufferers, and importantly for professionals (therapists, teachers and family doctors). The book is packed with practical tips on how to cope with many of the difficult situations that can arise when anorexia comes to visit.

GETTING BETTER BIT(E) BY BIT(E) – A survival kit for sufferers of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorders (Schmidt and Treasure – Lawrence Erlbaum Associates)

This is a self-help manual for those who (perhaps having come to terms with the issues behind their bulimia) are now ready to work at giving up being bulimic in an organised and methodical way. It includes chapters on preparing the recoverer for setbacks and deals with the issues and challenges of on-going life such as motherhood, assertiveness, work and relationships. Further reading suggestions are given at the end of each chapter and a layout for a food diary is given, together with useful UK addresses.

Anorexia and Bulimia (Dr Dee Dawson, Vermilion)

This is a parent’s guide to recognising eating disorders and taking control. Dr Dee Dawson is Director of Rhodes Farm, the London clinic that has helped hundreds of children with eating disorders. This book provides lots of useful information about eating disorders and treatment options. It also describes what to expect from a specialist in patient unit. This book prepared me for all the horrors of anorexia and gave me hope that we as a Family would pull through it.

Anorexia and Bulimia in the Family (Grainne Smith, Wiley)

This is a self-help guide written by a carer for other carers. It described how the author coped when her grown up daughter moved back home and brought with her, anorexia. It is a hard-hitting book, describing in detail just how hard things can get. It also provides many many tips on how to deal with anorexic behaviour and how to survive as a family.

Diet of Despair (Anna Paterson, Lucky Duck)

This is a very well thought out self-help guide for young people suffering from eating disorders and their families. It gives information and valuable insights on all types of eating disorders. Most importantly it gives a structured plan for recovery.

Carers Guide (Eating Disorder Association)

EDA has produced a Carers Guide, which offers support and reassurance, and discusses the difficult emotional issues you may be facing. It passes on the experiences of other carers, and also includes the perspective of people who have suffered from an eating disorder themselves. The information is presented in an accessible way, written in short paragraphs with practical ideas.

Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa (Christopher Freeman, Robinson)

This is a self-help guide using Cognitive Behavioural Techniques, written by one of the UK’s leading authorities on anorexia nervosa. Many experts believe CB therapy is one of the most effective ways of dealing with the emotional problems associated with anorexia. This book explains CBT and contains a complete self-help program.

(2) Personal Accounts

There are many books written about girls who have suffered from anorexia. I found these two gave me the most insight into the complexities of the illness and what my son was feeling as he became ill and then embarked on the long road to recovery:

Anorexic (Anna Paterson, Westworld International Ltd)

Anna suffered from anorexia for 14 years. She is very clear that it was triggered by her abusive grandmother. It is a harrowing story of a young girl’s fight for survival and the effect on her family. This book gives hope to families who have been coping with anorexia over a long period of time.

The Best Little Girl in the World (Steven Levenkron, Puffin)

This is a fictional book written by one of the foremost experts on anorexia in the USA. It describes how an outwardly happy and well-balanced child can actually be feeling very lonely and left out by the demands of other children within the family.

(3) About men

There are very few books about eating disorders in men, although this is changing and I was delighted when Fit to Die was published in 2004. These are the books I would recommend if you are concerned about a man or boy who you believe might have an eating disorder:

Boys Get Anorexia Too (Jenny Langley – Lucky Duck)

This is my personal account of what our family experienced when my son was struck down by an acute and almost fatal episode of anorexia. The first half of the book is a self-help guide aimed at parents, carers, teachers, sports coaches, and non specialist medical professionals. It highlights some of the difficulties for men and boys in getting a diagnosis in the first place and provides lots of practical tips on what to look out for and how to get the appropriate treatment if you suspect that a young man you know may be developing an eating disorder. You can also visit me at

Fit to Die (Anna Paterson – Lucky Duck)

In this book the author draws the readers attention to the characteristic and special difficulties for men with eating disorders. If this book had been around when my son was ill I would have felt a lot less lonely, and less guilty about my son having developed an eating disorder. I would also have been more prepared as a carer for a male sufferer, to cope with the ups and downs of my son’s illness.

Making Weight (Anderson, Cohn & Holbrook, Gurze Books)

This book is written by three of the leading experts on eating disorders in males in the US. It describes the explosion in the numbers of men with eating disorders, body image conflicts, compulsive exercise and obesity. The book examines why men have become affected by such issues and what to do about it.

Eating Disorders in the UK: Review of the Provision of Health Care Services for Men with Eating Disorders (Jeanette Copperman, EDA)

This review was commissioned by the Eating Disorder Association and published in 2000. It makes very interesting reading. It found that whilst there was a considerable overlap in what constitutes good practice in the treatment of men and women, there are some important differences in the routes into the illness, vulnerability factors, accessing services and the appropriateness of treatment. It is available free from the EDA by e-mail; printed copies are available for a small fee.

The Eating Disorder Association has a more comprehensive reading list, and a list specifically for males suffering from an eating disorder and their families. You can visit their website at