People read books all year-round. However, something about the summertime means enjoying memorable trips, events with friends and family and also the glorious weather (when it is not too humid). On the other hand, the summertime can sometimes be anxiety provoking due to swimsuit season, body image thoughts and the dread of returning back to school and/or work. I often work with clients to identify positive coping mechanisms and ways to distract our minds. Reading a book is often mentioned as something clients’ enjoy. Whether it is a physical novel or an ebook on the Kindle, pairing a fun summer read with the sounds of waves crashing and the crisp summer air, can be very therapeutic. Sometimes, we just want to open a book, dive into a world that is not our own, and relax.
An individual who is in eating disorder recovery or hoping to heal from past mental health challenges, may benefit from reading literature. Such literature can include research articles, newsletters, or blog posts (shoutout to this one!); however, it also includes self-help and/or guided books. Many books are discussed and advertised through word-of-mouth or book clubs however we wanted to share some of our favorite books that we have been reading, enjoying, and utilizing for clients. Be sure to check out Collide Behavioral Health’s Favorite Takeaway for each book listed below!
- The Body Image Workbook: 8-step guide by Dr. Thomas Cash
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to accept and enjoy the way you look instead of constantly worrying about and criticizing your appearance? I know that body acceptance and liberation is easier said than done. In our current society, we have made numerous strides in learning to accept our bodies and to accept diverse bodies. However, our own sense of beauty, what we see in the mirror on a regular basis, or the number on the scale can be hard. This workbook is one of my absolute favorites to use. The author specifically divides the book in a way that allows for assessment/understanding of our current body image and the thoughts, views and attitudes we hold that have maintained such.
The self-assessments can be very emotional when completed as they look into the physical attributes and situations that cause us to be anxious,upset or sad about our bodies. However, each step in this book relates to the previous in order to change the perspective and the way to view negative thoughts.
Collide’s favorite takeaway: It is one thing to identify parts of ourselves that we do not like. It is another thing to identify the ways we “alter” or “fix” such parts by wearing makeup, only taking photos from one angle etc. These types of questions and discussion points are right in the first chapter of the book. It really puts into perspective the mindful actions we do, conscious or unconscious in hopes to like ourselves more.
- The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food
Many clients have heard of this book from their primary care physician or their registered dietitian/nutritionist before I recommend it to them. Intuitive Eating, has been the forefront of anti-diet and inclusivity in health/nutrition for years. The idea is to amplify one’s relationship with food in order to sustain health while being mindful.
This book starts with an Intuitive Eating Assessment Scale—2 which is a great start to understanding your own thoughts, attitudes and perceptions with eating. This often can be shocking to clients who have never had to think critically about their own eating patterns and characteristics. The assessment is then a guide that helps dive into various topics that intuitive eating encompasses. The book is divided into various principal;es about hunger, fullness, mindfulness, respect and honoring all you have learned by the end of the book. The book also includes various activities and critical questions that only explore further the importance of holding onto healthy relationships with food.
Collide’s favorite takeaway: Understanding the beliefs that your family and/or society taught you about food and how it impacts your food rules was very mind opening and helpful! There are questionnaires and meaningful discussion questions to best process the way childhood can shape food-related behaviors. This can be found in Principle Four: Challenging the Food Police
- Self-Compassion: The Power of Being Kind to Yourself
From the title, I am sure you understand the premise of this book. However, we often lack self-compassion when we struggle or go through difficult situations. Being kind to ourselves can really make a difference in the way we view ourselves and the world around us.
This book identifies ways that self-critical people lead their own turmoil vs self-compassionate people. There are many physical and emotional differences between the groups as well including level of anxiety, depression, racing thoughts and acceptance. I also will be honest that learning about the level of self-compassion that you may hold right now, is not easy or fun. However the process this book takes you through can definitely provide a sense of hope. After exploring the three key components of self-compassion (self-kindness, common humanity, and present mindfulness), the author shares ways to gradually develop your ability to be more self-compassionate. Even if you’re worried that you’ll never be able to replace your self-critic with a more compassionate self, this book provides a better understanding to aim to achieve..
Collide’s favorite takeaway: I live by the quote “comparison is the thief of joy” and the more and more I dove into this book, I understood it. Those who are self-critics (my previous self included) are less likely to suppress unwanted thoughts and emotions. The author provides key questions that better understand the need to change the way we talk to ourselves, and the way we accept the emotions and lessons life throws our way. Page 170, highlights my personal favorite, that those who are self-compassionate, are able to see challenges as learning experiences to foster growth.
- Health Food Junkie: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating
There is nothing wrong with wanting to eat healthy. However, there is an issue with becoming obsessed or rigid with only eating healthy things. This type of obsession can cause anxiety and stress with meals, weight, and restrictive thoughts. A clinical term for a type of eating disorder where such obsession takes control is called Orthorexia Nervosa, essentially hyper-focusing on eating healthy that impacts well-being.
This book by Bratman and Knight, identifies when an individual may suffer from this disorder and ways to treat it. The book also looks into societal changes in the recent decades with ways of eating (vegan, pescatarian, gluten-free) and diets/fads such a macronutrient counting, intermittent fasting, and juice cleanses to name a few.
Collide’s favorite takeaway: Understanding how this disorder does not highlight the quantity of food but rather the quality. Such things as food rules where you only eat green items to the possible elimination of food groups completely. The medical information form the authors additionally provides even more context to how difficult such obsession can be to both mental and physical needs our body has.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is well-known for the ways that it can allow clients to process actions and thoughts over time. The authors, Dr. Debra L. Safer, Dr. Sarah Adler, and Dr. Philip C. Masson, utilize this therapy by developing a program specific to emotional eating which can include binge and out-of-control eating.
The book provides numerous case examples, worksheets and discussion questions that are fit for clients, families, and professionals. The goal after finishing the book is to have a better understanding of what emotional triggers cause eating behaviors and ways to counter them, making meaningful behavior changes (chain-link analysis).
Collide’s favorite takeaway: There are many parts of the book that discuss vulnerability, what it means and how it displays in each person. This was very eye-opening to understand that our vulnerability can lead to change. Vulnerability can also determine if we see the world as optimists vs pessimists. Chapters 10 and 11 both provide steps to identify ways that we can understand vulnerability in a positive light, instead of seeing it as a way to be hurt or taken advantage of.
Maya is a therapist who is passionate about the working in the mental health feild. She has a special interested in disordered eating, body image and working with women of color who are seeking mental health treatment. She approaches therapy with a down-to-earth feel that is both compassionate and actionable. In her free time you can find her playing guitar, singing and reading.
If you’re interested in setting up an appointment with Maya, Contact her today.
Disclaimer: This is in no way a replacement for a therapeutic relationship or mental health services. This is for educational purposes only and should be in used only in conjunction in working with a licensed mental health professional. Reading this blog or responding to it does not constitute a provider-patient relationship. If you are looking for a local mental health professional feel free to use the contact tab to request an appointment or search Therapy Den for local therapists in your area. If this is a mental health emergency and you need immediate assistance please call 911 or your county’s crisis line to speak to a mental health professional.