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The Vine: March 18, 2015

Submitted by on March 18, 2015 – 9:44 AM11 Comments


I'm looking for some book recs on a very specific topic, and hoping the readers can help.

A friend of mine, B, recently lost her mother. The were close, it was sudden, it sucks. It sucks worse for B's younger brother who 1) recently came out as gay 2) is struggling with bulimia. I say "struggling," I mean "doesn't exactly see what the problem is, but sees that B is freaked out so promised to try to stop."

I'm rather at a loss for how to help, but B asked for book recommendations for her brother, specifically in the area of self-esteem or eating disorders for men. My cursory research is only turning up books for men whose ED is linked to exercise/bulking, which is not the case here.

Novels could be great too, but none of my favorites seem likely to be relevant to him. We're all familiar with "Savage Love," but the brother didn't really take to it (possibly because that column is older than he is). Any thoughts appreciated!


At A Loss

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  • MizShrew says:

    I don't have a book suggestion, but perhaps another person to ask. Gena Hamshaw has a blog called Choosing Raw. She's a nutritionist who suffered with an eating disorder. She is also a vegan, so I'm not sure if that's an issue, but she publishes other's "green recovery" stories on her blog. There's one from a man, although his story is about anorexia and compulsive exercise.

    Anyway, she might be a resource for finding other books or blogs that could be relevant to your brother. Good luck, I hope you can find some resources and/or inspiration to help him.

  • MizShrew says:

    Relevant to your friend's brother, I mean.

  • elizzy says:

    Memoir – "Born Round" by Frank Bruni? See NYT excerpt:

  • cayenne says:

    I'm sorry B and her family are going through such a horrible time. You're a great friend for trying to help where you can.

    Self-help isn't usually on my reading radar, so I'm afraid I can't help with that, but there's a NA romance that I quite liked called Trade Me by Courtney Milan that includes *spoiler* a hero with an eating disorder. Maybe B's brother would find that aspect sympathetic.

  • Another Sarah says:

    Loss, I'm going to be no help here, but I did want to reach out and say that, as the sister of a guy who has had ED issues for over two decades, that part is likely going to be pretty tough. My parents tried to check my brother in for professional help when his bulimia was first uncovered during his undergrad years, and there's definitely sexism at play in even trying to get a man diagnosed. I'm so sorry for B and her loss, and she is lucky to have a friend who cares. Lots of love and support all the way around will likely serve everyone well. Good luck.

  • Angharad says:

    I can't recommend anything personally, but I did find a UK nonprofit called Men Get Eating Disorders, Too. They look pretty reputable and offer support (including an online forum) and services for both men struggling with eating disorders and the people that care for them. Their booklist looks decent, also:

  • Annie GS says:

    Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous ( has a book that is really amazing, helpful, and relevant ( In fact, it would be helpful for the sister, whether the brother actually gets into recovery or uses the book or not.

    Best of luck to all involved. Eating disorders are painful for everyone involved, for sure.

    Wishing peace to all of y'all…

  • elikit says:

    This is not a book, but there is an Australian comedian who has been pretty open about his struggle with an eating disorder. Maybe this would help your brother's friend?

  • LW says:

    Thank you all, for the kind wishes and the recs! I'll check these out and pass them along

  • ct says:

    The book "Life Without Ed" by Jenni Schaefer is recommended by a lot of eating disorder specialists.

    I would warn your friend to be wary of resources like Choosing Raw. Food is not her brother's problem – an eating disorder is first and foremost mental health issue. Orthorexia is a growing problem for people who are suffering from, or even susceptible to, disordered eating. Green recovery can be dangerous.

  • MizShrew says:

    @ct: I think that's certainly a valid point — some people do use specific diets to justify and hide their eating disorders, and that's good to bear in mind before suggesting anything for the friend's brother. I think Hamshaw acknowledges that. (And also why I mention that she's vegan. FWIW even she doesn't eat entirely raw.) It was simply a place where I saw at least one man with an eating disorder featured. So for the LW I thought it might prove useful.

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