How Reading Fiction Helped me with Recovery

Reading Fiction and Eating Disorder Recovery

A big part of recovery for me was finding activities that I enjoyed doing simply for pleasure on my free time. Hobbies that had nothing to do with weight loss, food, dieting or appearance. It was difficult at first – because I had been so focused on productivity, improvement and perfection – but with time I was able to find a few things that I did purely for joy and relaxation.

An important hobby that helped me with recovery and my overall happiness was: reading fiction novels. Reading simply to get lost in a good story. Prior to this, I was reading non-fiction, self-help or diet books, constantly trying to learn or find some sort of hack to make my life better.  

Fiction helped me escape and take a break.

There was also a very healthy element to reading stories where I couldn’t see what the people looked like. I wasn’t constantly being bombarded by unhealthy body image standards but instead being able to imagine and create my own make believe world. It’s an unfortunate truth that we don’t have inclusive messaging within the media, so reading helped me get away from all of that. It was a gift that helped me tremendously during recovery.

Here are some of my favorite fiction books that I read during this time. Some of these books are light-hearted women focused novels, some are more dramatic and serious, some are fantasy sci-fi novels, but they were all chosen from a place of wanting to read a fun, pleasurable story that completely transported me. If you’re looking for a great read, I am sure you will find something good in this list! Here they are:

Dune by Frank Herbert

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

The Power by Naomi Alderman

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Healthy Eating - Gone Too Far?

Does anyone else think this obsession with food, healthy eating and exercise has gone too far? It seems extreme and fanatical to me, and I keep wondering: What is it even for? What are people trying to accomplish with these insane diets and workout regimens?

If it’s coming from a place of disease prevention and trying to live longer – news alert: WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. Even the most health-conscious person will die. When we die is remarkably random and thinking we can control this by eating a particular diet is quite silly. We could walk outside and get hit by a car tomorrow and the fact that you were only eating raw vegetables will not make a difference.

I am not saying we should eat fast food every day, of course not, but this absurdity of not being able to eat normal versions of foods and instead having all these crazy alternatives and weird substitutions is too much. I don’t think having regular rice is going to be the thing that kills us.

If it’s a concern of how we look and being the thinnest, most beautiful version of ourselves, then the amount of time and obsession we have dedicated to this is alarming.

We seem to have lost sight of the serious issues affecting the world and our values are all mixed up. And on top of that it’s NOT EVEN WORKING – the obesity and eating disorder rates are increasing. Whatever it is that we are doing is truly leading us astray.

The other issue I have with this is that I can’t help noticing that it’s an obsession for the privileged, wealthy people. So much money is being spent on cleanses, diet/meal delivery programs, $25 coconut yogurt jars, when there are people who are grateful if they have one meal that day and have a safe place to sleep. When I stop and look at it this way, I feel so shitty to give that stuff even an ounce of my attention.

It’s pointless when you put things in perspective and realize how lucky we are to even have these choices.

There are so many other issues that we should spend our brainpower on – not whether we can eat grains this week or the latest food labeled the culprit of weight gain or fatigue. We are fine, we are lucky to even be able to eat that food. 

I read a great article by Barbara Ehrenreich in The Guardian that explores this topic in a very insightful and enlightening way. You can read it here: Why are the poor blamed and shamed for their deaths?

She also just came out with a new book that looks very interesting called: Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

What are your thoughts about this healthy eating obsession that has become so popular? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!