It seems that every January we are inundated with ads, articles, and conversations about diet, weight, and body size. As we take some time to reflect on the last year and make plans for the upcoming one, can we resolve to reject the dieting cycle in favor of truly improving our mental and physical health? The following books can help you shift your relationship to food, exercise, and body image and their connections to mental health in positive ways.
Also, consider some self-development goals that are not connected to diet or exercise: sign up to learn a new skill with Gale Courses, enroll in one of many Great Courses through Hoopla, or learn a new language with Rosetta Stone.
Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison
Over two-thirds of Americans have dieted at some point in their lives– and upwards of 90% of people who intentionally lose weight gain it back within five years, often gaining more weight than they lost. Harrison shows that diet culture, a system of beliefs that equates thinness to health and moral virtue, promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, and demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others. It’s sexist, racist, and classist– and embedded in the fabric of our society. Harrison exposes all the ways it robs people of their time, money, health, and happiness. She provides a radical alternative to diet culture, and helps readers reclaim their bodies, minds, and lives so they can focus on the things that truly matter.
Intuitive Eating: a Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
The classic bestseller about rejecting diet mentality. Now revised and updated for the intuitive eaters of today. Since it was first published in 1995, Intuitive Eating has become the go-to book on rebuilding a healthy body image and making peace with food. It shows us that the problem is not us; it’s that dieting, with its emphasis on rules and regulations, has stopped us from listening to our bodies.
Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates “thin” with “healthy” is the problem. The solution? Health at every size. Tune in to your body’s expert guidance. Find the joy in movement. Eat what you want, when you want, choosing pleasurable foods that help you to feel good and feel great in your body.
The Body is Not an Apology : the Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies. The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world.
Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield
Imagine a graph with two lines. One indicates happiness, the other tracks how you feel about your body. If you’re like millions of people, the lines do not intersect. But what if they did? This practical, inspirational, and visually lively book shows you how to create a healthier and happier life by treating yourself with compassion rather than shame. It shows the way to a sense of well-being attained by understanding how to love, connect, and care for yourself–and that includes your mind as well as your body.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon
To be fat is considered far more than a health concern: overweight people can be denied doctors’ services or jobs, are mocked on airplanes, and are the punchline of jokes. Gordon unearths the cultural attitudes and social systems that have led to people being denied basic needs because they are fat and calls for social justice movements to be inclusive of plus-sized people’s experiences.
Featuring a dozen step-by-step, full-body workouts, this book is more than a workout guide or a training manual. It’s a reminder that you’re more than your weight, that you are stronger than you believe, and that just because you might not be thin, doesn’t mean that you can’t be an athlete. Equally uplifting and enlightening, this body-positive fitness guide will inspire you to love your body no matter your size and to approach food and exercise in a way that benefits both mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body by Jessamyn Stanley
Jessamyn Stanley, a yogi who breaks all the stereotypes, has built a life as an internationally recognized yoga teacher by combining a deep understanding of yoga with a willingness to share her personal struggles in a way that touches everyone who comes to know her. She brings her body-positive, emotionally uplifting approach to yoga in this book that will help readers discover the power of yoga and how to weave it seamlessly into their life.