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Diets don’t work. We all know that. But what do we do instead? How can we learn to love our bodies and stop obsessing over food and weight? These are tough questions, but luckily, there are books out there that can help us answer them. As an anti diet RD, in this blog post, I’ll recommend some of the best anti diet culture books out there for healing body image and reclaiming body trust.
If you’re looking to change the way you think about food and your body, these books are for you. So read on – your future self will thank you!
What is anti diet culture?
Anti diet culture is a movement that celebrates the body, rejects diets and dieting, and embraces body size diversity. It encourages people to respect their bodies no matter what their size, and to stop trying to change their bodies through dieting. Anti diet culture aims to end the stigma against people of all sizes, and to create a world in which people can accept themselves and each other just as we are.
Best anti diet culture books
- Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison: In Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison takes on diet culture and the industries that profit from it. She exposes how diet culture robs people of their time, money, health, and happiness. Harrison shows how to recognize diet culture in all its forms, and how letting go of efforts to lose weight or eat “perfectly” actually helps improve people’s health. This must-read book provides a radical alternative to diet culture.
- The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor: This is by far one of the best anti diet culture books out there. Sonya Renee Taylor, who is a world-renowned activist and poet, invites us to reconnect with our minds and bodies, and to celebrate our strength. We can use this book to understand how body shame affects us, and to find ways to interrupt the systems that perpetuate it. When we do this on a global scale, we can create a more just world for everyone.
- Your Body Is Not an Apology Workbook: Tools for Living Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor: How do you put body liberation work into practice? This workbook will give you the tools and frameworks youy need to start making changes in your life right away. The four pillars of practice in the book help you to dismantle body shame and create a lifestyle based on self-love. Taylor guides you to move beyond theory and into doing, to be a radical self-love change agent in the world.
- Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings: In her eye-opening book, Strings explores how the war on “obesity” in this country sees poor black women as being diseased and a burden on the public health care system. This is just one example of the fear of fat black women that has been around for more than 200 years. The author shows how this fear started more than two hundred years ago by looking at art, newspaper articles, scientific literature and medical journals from that time period. She proves that the fear of fatness in relation to black women did not start with medical findings, but with the belief that fatness was evidence of “racial inferiority” during the Enlightenment era.
- What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon: People in larger bodies are often denied basic needs. This book explores why this happens and calls for social justice movements that include plus-sized people’s experiences. The author, founder of Your Fat Friend, pushes the discussion further towards authentic fat activism, which includes ending legal weight discrimination, giving equal access to health care for large people, increased access to public spaces, and ending anti-fat violence.
- Reclaiming Body Trust: A Path to Healing & Liberation by Hilary Kinavey and Dana Sturtevant: In their new book, the founders of Center for Body Trust invite readers to break free from the status quo and reject a diet culture that has taken advantage of people’s trauma, stigma, and disembodiment. They explain how to fully reclaim and embrace your body, with a focus on healing that takes into account people’s personal body stories. This book is full of helpful information, all framed within the authors’ innovative and revolutionary Body Trust framework. They outline an intersectional, social justice-oriented path to healing in three phases: The Rupture, The Reckoning, and The Reclamation.
- When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies by Carol Munter and Jane Hirschmann: This is one of my favorites in my growing collection of anti diet culture books. Here, the author aim to help women with distorted self-images and eating disorders. The book has three parts. The first part is called “Reclaiming Your Appetite.” This part talks about how you should stop dieting and start listening to your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals. The second part is called “Reclaiming Your Body.” In this section, the authors talk about how to deal with “bad body fever”–interior voices that tell you that you hate your body. The third section is called “Reclaiming Yourself.” This part helps women think realistically and compassionately about their bodies and emotions.
- The Making Peace with Food Card Deck: 59 Anti-Diet Strategies to End Chronic Dieting and Find Joy in Eating Cards by Christy Harrison: This card deck will help you end chronic dieting and heal your relationship with food. The deck has 59 different strategies to help you break free from the diet mindset and find peace with food. You will learn how to:
- Reject diet culture
- Honor your hunger cues
- Practice attuned eating
- Find self-compassion
- Nourish your body
- Navigate emotional eating
- Rediscover joy in life
- Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness by Da’Shaun Harrison: In this insightful book, the author explores how being fat and Black makes someone a target for violence. Harrison offers a fresh perspective on how anti-fatness is also anti-Blackness. They explore how desirability politics, the limitations of gender, and the connection between anti-fatness and carcerality affect Black people who are fat. The author offers strategies for dismantling denial and unlearning harmful cultural messages about fatness.
- The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf: This is a book that has been out for 30 years, but it still rings true today. In this witty and eye opening text, Naomi Wolf takes on society’s expectations of women to be “thin and perfect”. There are many different problems in which this trend has impacted female relationships with themselves, as well other people around them. “It’s the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of ‘the flawless beauty’.” A must-read in any list of anti diet culture books.
- More Than A Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament by Lexie Kite: Body image is a topic that many women struggle with. From an early age, we’re taught to believe the media’s illusion of beauty and desiring what you see in front of us–which all too often goes against your own personal values or leads to addiction for something outside yourself (such as food). The message of this book is simple, but the impact could be life changing. From media consumption to health and fitness, self-reflection or even just a new way of thinking about your body – there are many different topics covered in this book that will help you become more confident with yourself while also learning how facing those feelings can lead into personal growth opportunities!
- Happy Fat: Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You by Sofie Hagen: In Happy Fat, comedian Sofie Hagen shares her journey of removing fatphobic influences from daily life and finding self-acceptance in a world where judgement is rampant. From shame over sex lives or plane seats not being available when we need them most, this book provides practical tips for readers with an empowering message about taking up space that will leave everyone laughing out loud!
- Train Happy: An intuitive exercise plan for every body by Tally Rye: The self-care approach to fitness is taking over! Tally Rye, personal trainer and broadcaster, is on a mission change how we think about exercising. Get knowledge from leading experts in body image, mental health, and intuitive eating, to lead a healthier life that feels good inside and out. Plus, there’s a 10 week plan that includes flexible and sustainable at home workouts which are in tune with joyful movement.
- Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach, 4th Edition by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch: This is the newest edition, revised in 2020, and it’s even better than the first one. For example, it removes any of the previous weight-related language. It’s much more inclusive, and it’s based on further and recent scientific evidence on the benefits of intuitive eating. If you’re new to intuitive eating, this is the place to start. This book covers the 10 principles of intuitive eating in-depth. The original intuitive eating pioneers, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, get you started on your journey towards:
- Undoing the damage caused by dieting
- Connecting with, and honoring, your body
- Regaining your sense of autonomy with food and eating
So, if you’re looking for a good read that will make you think about the societal pressures we face when it comes to dieting and body size, look no further than this list of 15 anti-diet culture books. From memoirs to social commentary, these books cover a wide range of perspectives on dieting, body image, and food. They’ll make you laugh, they’ll make you cry – but most importantly, they’ll make you question everything that this toxic diet culture has programmed you with. If you’re looking to break free from the diet mentality, these books are a great place to start.
Hi! I’m Melissa, Registered Dietitian and mother of two dragons. When I’m not talking nutrition you can find me rolling around the floor with my kids, sewing, crafting, cooking or missing the 90s (seriously, music just isn’t the same). Read More…