You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery

You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery

by Jen Petro-Roy


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A self-help guide that answers your questions about body image and disordered eating

This nonfiction self-help book for young readers with disordered eating and body image problems delivers real talk about eating disorders and body image, tools and information for recovery, and suggestions for dealing with the media messages that contribute so much to disordered eating.

You Are Enough answers questions like:

• What are eating disorders?

• What types of treatment are available for eating disorders?

• What is anxiety?

• How can you relax?

• What is cognitive reframing?

• Why are measurements like BMI flawed and arbitrary?

• What is imposter syndrome?

• How do our role models affect us?

• How do you deal with body changes?

. . . just to name a few.

Many eating disorder books are written in a way that leaves many people out of the eating disorder conversation, and this book is written with a special eye to inclusivity, so that people of any gender, socioeconomic group, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or chronic illness can benefit.

Eating disorder survivor Jen Petro-Roy draws from her own experience with anorexia, OCD, and over-exercising, as well as research and interviews with survivors and medical professionals, to deliver a toolkit for recovery, written in a easy-to-understand, conversational way.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250151025
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: 02/19/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 1,206,550
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 9 - 11 Years

About the Author

Jen Petro-Roy is a former teen librarian, an obsessive reader, and a trivia fanatic. She lives with her husband and two young daughters in Massachusetts. She is the author of P.S. I Miss You, Good Enough, and You Are Enough: Your Guide to Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery. Jen is an eating disorder survivor and an advocate for recovery.

Read an Excerpt


What Are Eating Disorders?

YOU MIGHT PICK up this book already knowing a lot about eating disorders. Or you might pick up this book knowing nothing about the specifics, nothing about the official words that doctors might throw at you. All you know is that something is wrong with your relationship with food.

You don't have to know all the lingo to get better, just as you don't have to be labeled a certain way to have a problem.

Eating disorders cover a wide variety of symptoms and arise because of a variety of factors, as I will discuss later. At their core, though, eating disorders are a collection of symptoms that interfere with your quality of life. If you have an eating disorder, you may worry about your body or about gaining weight or muscle. You may compare yourself to others. When you have anxiety or feel upset, you may find comfort in food — either by restricting it, purging it, or bingeing on it. These behaviors (along with others) may soothe something inside of you that is hurting.

Some people with eating disorders don't eat enough and become malnourished and sick. Some people with eating disorders eat too much, too quickly, and feel sick. Others eat and then throw up their food, and others are bothered by the textures of certain foods and are unable to eat them. Many people with eating disorders have complex rules about what foods are "safe" to eat and what foods are off-limits. Others might force themselves to exercise past the point of safety.

The criteria for diagnosis are complicated, but if you're able to go to a medical professional, you can be assessed and possibly given a diagnosis. But if you think something might be wrong with the way you eat or exercise, if you think that it may be out of control or disordered in any way, this book is for you. Whether or not you have an official diagnosis from a doctor, whether or not you believe you're "sick" enough to have an eating disorder, and whether you're thin or fat, if you or someone in your life thinks your eating might be disordered and you think you might have problems with your body image, this book is for you.

When I was sick, I heard many people comment that they would "love an eating disorder to lose weight." That's not how it works, though. Eating disorders aren't a diet. You can't simply borrow an eating disorder for a while and then return it when you're done. Eating disorders are hard to get rid of. They affect your brain like an addiction, and once you start receiving that sense of comfort from disordered behaviors, it becomes hard to stop these dangerous actions.

You can stop, though. If you are reading this book, there is a high chance that you are ready for a change. That you realize that whatever reassurance your eating disorder once provided you isn't worth the discomfort and lack of energy and sadness that now invade your days.

Maybe you're not quite ready to change yet, but you recognize that recovery could be a possibility someday. (Maybe.) There is nothing wrong with feeling like that. Recovery is a process, and the first step is recognizing that it can happen. You can read more about how to get there in this book.

Maybe your parent is concerned about how you're eating and bought you this book, but you haven't talked to a doctor or medical professional yet. Or maybe you've already been diagnosed with a specific eating disorder and are in the middle of treatment. You might worry about food a lot but believe it's not "serious" enough to be an official disorder. Maybe you know you can't afford treatment, so you picked this book up instead.

This book will not cure you, but it can start you on the road to recovery. It can educate you about symptoms that you have and situations that you encounter as you work to become healthier and to develop a happier, more accepting relationship with your body.

That relationship is possible.

I promise.


What Types of Treatment Are Available?

DEPENDING ON YOUR eating disorder symptoms, your medical needs, your need for weight gain, your financial status, whether you have insurance, and even where you live, treatment options will vary. But you do have options — many options, ranging from attending therapy sessions to staying in a hospital.

If you have insurance, it may cover therapy sessions, psychiatrist appointments, and medication. Your insurance may cover hospital stays. Sadly, though, many insurance companies deny coverage for some eating disorder treatments.

That's why it's important to realize that if you can't get one specific type of treatment, you aren't doomed. Quite the opposite! There are so many different kinds of help you can get — support is out there, regardless of your family's finances or your life situation.

Though a lot of media about eating disorders focuses on hospitalization, that isn't the only option. You can seek out individual or family therapy if you and your doctor agree that it seems right for you. If you aren't sure where to begin, a school counselor might be able to direct you to resources for therapy or help.

I've included information at the end of this book about hotlines you can call and websites you can visit to seek out help that may be more affordable. There are free support groups, therapists who offer sessions on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay, and scholarship funds for eating disorder treatment.

Help is out there. Here are some of the main types.

Individual talk therapy

Therapists — who may be psychologists, counselors, or social workers — are medical professionals you can talk to. While all therapists will discuss your eating disorder symptoms in some way, they do have differences.

Some therapists will want to talk about your past in detail, to get a good idea of what led to your disordered eating. Therapists who practice psychodynamic therapy, a type of talk therapy, believe that as you talk about your past, you will come to see how it affects your current experiences, which will lead to self-knowledge and change.

Other therapists will prefer to concentrate on what is going on now, on your behaviors and what leads to your actions. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on solving problems by concentrating on dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, then challenging those thoughts to change how you react.

Therapists who use dialectical behavior therapy focus on painful emotions and behavior and teach skills to manage anxiety and negative thoughts.

Mindfulness therapy, which was originally developed to use with depression, teaches how to deal with unwanted thoughts by accepting and becoming aware of them instead of immediately reacting and despairing.

If you have insurance, individual talk therapy is very likely covered, although you may be directed to certain providers in your network.


Psychiatrists are medical professionals who can write prescriptions for medications that may help manage anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and other mental health issues that may be contributing to your eating disorder or body image issues.

Family therapy

Family therapy usually occurs alongside individual therapy, often with a separate therapist altogether. Family therapy expands beyond talking about just you and your fears. Instead, it talks about the dynamic that exists around you and how the members of your family interact.

Medical care

An important part of treatment, medical doctors can check on you and watch for physical complications that might come up during your recovery.


Dietitians can help with meal plans and provide support to make sure that you're getting the right nutrition.

Support groups

Often led by a professional therapist or a recovered individual, support groups involve a number of people getting together to talk about issues with disordered eating. Some support groups have a specific focus (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, males with eating disorders, queer people, adults), while others are open to the general population. All focus on recovery. Moderators will be aware of triggers, the topics or comments that might tempt someone to return to disordered eating. Some groups will include a meal or snack during the meeting.

Family-based treatment

In family-based treatment, also called the Maudsley approach, parents or guardians take an active role in helping their child recover through family meals. This type of treatment has proven very successful for kids and adolescents with supportive families.

Outpatient care

In outpatient care you continue to live at home but attend support groups or appointments with nutritionists, doctors, therapists, or psychiatrists who are affiliated with a hospital or an eating disorder support organization.

Partial hospitalization

Partial hospitalization means you attend a hospital program for eating disorders, but still sleep at home. It is also called day treatment, since it usually runs from before breakfast until after dinner, most or all days of the week. Patients in day treatment still attend groups and meet with doctors in their program, but leave at the end of the day to practice coping skills at home.

Inpatient care

Inpatient care means you stay in a hospital overnight as well as during the day. It is often used for people with medical problems that accompany their eating disorder. As with partial hospitalization, there are group and personal therapy sessions and a strict schedule.

Residential care

Residential care is a long-term treatment where you live at a treatment center. It differs from inpatient care in that it is used for people who are medically stable. Therapists, counselors, and nutritionists are on staff, and the program works to ease you back into life with a lower level of care after discharge. These types of programs last anywhere from thirty to ninety days, sometimes longer, and are less likely to be covered by insurance, if you have it.

How to find a therapist

As you look for a therapist, it's important to know that all therapists aren't alike. Some may prefer cognitive behavioral therapy, while some may want to dive into your past. Some may use a tough-love approach, while some may be more forgiving and gentle.

Above all, though, it's important to find a therapist who has experience treating eating disorders. This way, you know that the person you are opening yourself up to won't respond with an insensitive comment. They won't talk about your weight above all else. They are educated about eating disorders and will help give you the tools to fight them.

Eating disorder therapists come from a variety of backgrounds and can be psychologists, social workers, or licensed therapists. The National Eating Disorders Association website has a treatment finder where you, along with your parents or guardians, can enter your location and which eating disorders you are struggling with, along with any other conditions you might have and what kind of treatment you desire — not just inpatient, but also individual therapy and family therapy. Psychology Today's Therapist Finder and Zocdoc can connect patients to therapists in their area, as can some of the organizations listed in the back of the book.

Another step in finding a therapist is to have your parents or caregivers contact your insurance company. In the best-case scenario, therapy will be covered. This may mean that you have to pay a small co-pay for each appointment, but the bulk of the costs will be paid by your insurance company. Sometimes, insurance companies will tell you that you have to pick from a certain pool of therapists in order for them to pay. A lot of insurance companies let you search for therapists on their websites based on specific criteria, and you can also check to see if a certain provider will be covered.

If therapy isn't covered, some therapists do work with patients on a sliding scale of costs to make things more affordable. That usually means that they set a price based on your family's ability to pay. (There's also a section in the back of this book about different scholarship funds that can help families pay for treatment.)

Also remember that you don't have to hire the first therapist you meet. This person is working to help you, and that's why it's important to make sure that you are a good fit for each other. Ask questions about what you will do in your sessions. How long has the therapist been treating eating disorders? What marks progress? Will you get homework? How will parents or caregivers be involved? What will your sessions be like?

This is your therapist, your treatment, and your life. You deserve someone who works well with you.

For queer people, it's important to find a therapist or doctor who understands specific issues you may be dealing with. It's fine to ask healthcare professionals whether they're trained in working with queer people and are sensitive to their needs and experiences.

Alithia Skye Zamantakis, author of the article "My Journey to Eating Disorder Treatment as Neither a Man or Woman," talked to me about their struggle to find a therapist.

"They assumed that I was a man by my voice. Then they assumed I was a woman," said Zamantakis, whose pronouns are they/them. "It's hard to explain gender when you're dealing with so much else. It made me feel that treatment wouldn't even work."

Zamantakis is now working with a therapist who doesn't specialize in eating disorders but who is queer and understands more about the trans community.

The cost of therapy can also be a barrier to many people seeking treatment.

Michelle, a biology student who has struggled with restrictive disorders, struggled with the cost of therapy. Even with insurance, she said that her office visits to a psychiatrist tended to be expensive. However, she has been in talk therapy for about a year and a half and has found a therapeutic outlet in writing and bullet journaling. "It's been especially helpful in tracking my emotions, mental health, and thoughts," she said.

Stephanie Covington Armstrong, author of the memoir Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat: A Story of Bulimia, spoke about how the way that society viewed her made the search for help difficult.

"Because I am black, people, doctors, friends assumed that black women do not have eating disorders because we are all born with an innate confidence about our body," she said. "I wore a mask of confidence to hide my issues with food and low self-esteem from those around me. Falling outside of the strong black woman archetype was not an option so I fed into the narrative that I could cope with any and all trauma myself. It was taboo to seek mental health support in my community so I stuck to the status quo and suffered in silence, using food to quell the inner voices of doubt and shame until I could no longer hide and had to step outside of my comfort zone and seek help."

Though Armstrong didn't receive eating-disorder-specific treatment, she was able to find help.

"I joined a twelve-step program for my food problems and sought help with a therapist," she said. "I really believe that real recovery can only come by working threefold: body, mind, and spirit."

Twelve-step programs are like a support group but are made up entirely of people dealing with an unhealthy behavior or addiction (rather than being moderated by professionals). They involve a process that includes admitting powerlessness over an addiction or problem, believing that a higher power can help, working with an experienced sponsor to recognize past errors and make amends, and learning to live according to a new, healthier set of behaviors.

As you progress through recovery, you will continue to reevaluate the type of care that you need. At some points, you may choose to change the type of treatment that you are receiving. Sometimes, you may need a higher level of care. At other times, you may be doing well and need less support.

Above all, it is important to choose the path to recovery that works for you and your individual situation. Because whatever that path is, help is out there.


Excerpted from "You Are Enough"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Jen Petro-Roy.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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