Tabitha Farrar

The most helpful resource I know of is Tabitha Farrar’s book, Rehabilitate, Rewire, Recover!. It has a very thorough catalog of food restriction and exercise rules, and goes into detail on how to identify and stop compulsive movement habits. In addition, it outlines obstacles one might face in recovery, and offers a step-by-step recovery plan.

Farrar has written a handful of other books as well. Her memoir Love Fat is a good thing to read if you're trying to understand what someone with an eating disorder is going through.

Also check out Farrar's The Eating Disorder Recovery podcast (it's not currently in production, but the episode archive is very valuable) and her YouTube channel.

Anorexia Myths

This website was started by a mother of twin daughters, both of whom had anorexia. My favorite of her posts (so far) is Myth: Anorexia is all About Control:

To view a person with anorexia as someone with an obsessive need to be in control is to look at this illness the wrong way round. The person who has the anorexia nervosa quickly finds that almost every aspect of their lives is being controlled by the lodger that has made itself at home in their brain, the cuckoo in the nest.

She gets it in a way that few others that haven't been ill themselves do. I've contributed some posts to her site (see below), and am eager to promote it to people looking for a better understanding of anorexia.

Resources for parents

If you have a child with an eating disorder, please check out F.E.AS.T. The website has lots of helpful information and a support forum for caregivers. I also recommend reading these posts from their blog:

Scientific research

The Stephanies (Klenotich and Dulawa) have a paper that serves as an instruction manual for how to induce anorexia symptoms in mice. The paper has a history of animal models of eating disorders. How is it that this has been well-known to researchers for decades, but is totally unknown to the general public? I interviewed Dulawa on this topic here.

Shan Guisinger’s 2003 paper, Adapted to Flee Famine, gives a detailed proposal of an evolutionary explanation for what I call the “reduce food / increase activity” response to starvation. See also: Guisinger on Tabitha Farrar's podcast.

Watson et. al 2019 is a landmark paper that concludes that anorexia should be reconceptualized as a partly metabolic disorder. One of the authors, Cynthia Bulik, wrote a four part blog series on the paper's findings, which I strongly recommend. See also this interview with Bulik, which I contributed questions to.

For a perspective that differs from mine, see Murray et. al 2018, a review article that concludes “it should not be expected that weight gain alone will ultimately confer commensurate psychological symptom remission.” See also this response, which suggests “most subjects included in this meta-analysis were never adequately weight restored.” I believe this is correct.

More from me

Other links

  • Jennifer Gaudiani's book, Sick Enough, has very detailed information on medical complications associated with various eating disorders.

  • The International Olympic Committee’s 2014 article on RED-S describes how to think about how disordered eating affects athletes.

  • Slate Star Codex's article, Del Giudice On The Self-Starvation Cycle, had a big influence on me.

  • Kelsey Piper's blog post on her experience with recovery is one of my favorite things to point people to.