There are a number of recommended books in the Health at Every Size and intuitive eating spaces that can greatly improve your understanding of the concepts and your knowledge of the evidence backing them up.
Likewise, there are numerous helpful texts on improving your body image, and that provide a political and historical context for the fat acceptance and body positivity movements.
Meredith’s personal favorites
Did I miss one that you like? Contact me!
Health at Every Size Books
Authors: Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor
This is Linda Bacon’s second book; for it she was joined by well-respected dietitian and researcher Lucy Aphramor. This book is shorter and arguably a better place to jump into Health At Every Size thinking than the original Health At Every Size book (which I describe next). It highlights key myths about weight in our society, and also emphasizes how Health At Every Size is as much a social justice movement as a health movement.
Author: Linda Bacon
This is the book that really helped the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement gain traction. Linda Bacon wasn’t the person to invent the philosophy, but she raised public awareness of it and described her own perspective on it. She was uniquely qualified to do this, as she holds graduate degrees in physiology, psychology, and exercise metabolism. This book explains why dieting doesn’t work (and the research backing this up), and also explains Bacon’s own research assessing how HAES compares to best-in-class dieting approaches. If you’re going to read either this or Body Respect (above) I would start with Body Respect.
Author: Traci Mann
Traci Mann is my kind of woman: she loves and respects science. In this book Mann, who leads an eating lab at the University of Minnesota, tears the dieting industry to shreds with cold, hard, peer-reviewed facts. She explains why diets don’t work, how weight loss research is manipulated for the most favorable results, and the science beyond everyone’s “set point weight”.
One word of warning: Mann spends the entire second half of the book talking about how to stay in the lower part of one’s set point weight. There is positively zero reason to do this, as it will not improve your health; it’s for vanity reasons only. I would much rather see you put effort into loving yourself no matter what your size than introduce ridiculous hacks to stay at the bottom of your weight range.
Author: Harriet Brown
Reading this book was a turning point for me. Harriet Brown is a science writer who chose to research how our collective history, culture, and psychology have brought us to our current relationship with weight in present time. The most powerful chapter is the one in which she exposes the medical industry. She exposes the incredible biases against fatness held by medical practitioners, but just as important, the financial incentives that have created the pushing of weight loss on patients from everyone from general practitioners to bariatric surgeons. I consider this a must-read.
Intuitive Eating Books
Authors: Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch
This is THE book on intuitive eating that everyone should read. Tribole and Resch, both dietitians, realized after many years of helping their clients diet that it was ending up in failure every time. This book describes the approach to eating that they advise for their clients, which is summarized into ten tenets (for a summary of the tenets and intuitive eating in general, read my article, What Is Intuitive Eating?.
Intuitive eating is one of the foundations of the Health At Every Size philosophy and thus, this book is critical reading. I would highly recommend, however, that you hold off reading the chapter on nutrition until you are well on your way with this work (at least several months into non-restricted eating and total allowance of all foods). The chapter can be very triggering for those who still have a difficult relationship with food (I speak from experience!).
Fat Acceptance / Fat Activism Books
Author: Marilyn Wann
Marilyn Wann is a tireless fat activist. In the 1990s, she started publishing a zine for “people who don’t apologize for their size”. The zine eventually evolved into this book, which is informative and fun. It explains why being fat isn’t bad, but it goes way, way, further, to simple revel in being fat. Sections include “17 fun things to do with your bathroom scale (that don’t involve weighing yourself!), “Muumuu of the month club” and “You, too, can be flabulous!”.
Many more to come in this category — stay tuned.
Author: Kelsey Miller
It is difficult to convey just how much I loved this book. If you are a woman who has struggled with “weight issues”, you will be nodding your head the entire time you are reading this book. Kelsey shares how she developed into an incredibly disordered eater with courage. She is articulate and humorous, throwing in just the right number of funny moments to balance out the heaviness of the subject matter (pun not intended). I also recommend the audio book as she narrates it herself and does a fantastic job.
Author: Lindy West
This book is about a lot more than Lindy’s fatness, but it centers so much around her identity as a fat feminist that even chapters not specifically about her weight still have it woven in. She is raw and honest about the pain she has endured as a fat woman, particularly through the trolling she has received as a journalist regularly discussing misogyny and fatphobia. She is also incredibly witty; I admire her writing skills tremendously and long for the day when my metaphors might be a tenth as apt as hers.
Body Image Books
The books in this category are self-help / personal development books that will help you work on healing your relationship with your body and improving your body image.
Author: Summer Innanen
Summer is a seasoned body image coach who is also a proponent of Health At Every Size. In this book, she lends her casual, humorous approach to information and exercises that will help you begin to make peace with your body regardless of its size.
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