There are many factors that can impact a person’s ability to have a satisfying sex life, including living with mental health issues and/or body insecurity. Sex can be especially difficult for those with eating disorders, and it can even cause an avoidance of intimate relationships altogether. Struggling with your sex life is often a symptom of disordered eating, which is why it’s important to address the root of an eating disorder before trying to regain your sex life. It is absolutely possible to recover—regardless of if your eating disorder stems from a mental health issue or a desire to live up to an unrealistic beauty standard.
Whether you struggle with food rules, restriction, or binging, there are helpful resources that can support your path to healing. Explore our favorite organizations, books, and podcasts for navigating your sex life while trying to heal from disordered eating.
Organizations you can turn to for community, information, and support
1. Eating Disorder Hope
Eating Disorder Hope Is an online community that offers resources and information on body image and disordered eating. Along with providing access to support groups and treatment programs, Eating Disorder Hope has a blog that covers a myriad of topics, including intimacy and sex. Blog posts include struggling with body image while pursuing romance, the relationship between sex and eating disorders, and navigating intimacy issues.
2. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
NEDA supports people with eating disorders, along with their loved ones. It has various informational articles about body image, treatment, and eating disorder warning signs and statistics. It also offers a screening tool to determine if it’s time to get help, a database of treatment providers, and a helpline with options to online chat, call, or text. If your partner doesn’t know much about eating disorders and wants to learn, NEDA is a helpful, information-packed resource.
3. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
ANAD offers various support services to anyone wanting to recover from an eating disorder. Its helpline is available from 10am-10pm ET, and you can use it for any question or concern related to eating disorders, including intimacy-related issues. Its virtual support groups serve to bring people in recovery together for mutual support, and its mentorship program matches mentors with people in the program.
Books that offer eye-opening insight on nurturing your body
4. The Wisdom of Your Body: Finding Healing, Wholeness, and Connection Through Embodied Living, by Hillary McBride
In The Wisdom of Your Body, McBride offers a spiritual, insightful perspective on what it means to practice embodied living. By sharing her own experiences with trauma and eating disorder recovery, she demonstrates that regaining a sense of body confidence is possible. The Wisdom of Your Body is nurturing, poetic, and validating — and it’s a reminder that we can always come back home to our bodies.
5. Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, by Linda Bacon
Health at Every Size addresses fatphobia while debunking common misconceptions about health and weight. While the book references scientific research, it manages to be accessible to a wide audience. If you struggle with body acceptance, unlearning societal messages, or if you just want a self-esteem boost, Health at Every Size may be a helpful book for you.
6. The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love, by Sonya Taylor
The Body Is Not an Apology encourages inclusivity, compassion, and radical self-love. It covers the ways in which oppressive social constructs affect our self-perceptions, all while offering an affirmative perspective on how we can love ourselves. Taylor, who is an educator and poet, beautifully captures the essence of body shame — and how we can heal from it.
7. Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder: Understanding, Supporting, and Connecting with Your Partner, by Dana Harron
In Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder, Dana Harron offers strategies, advice and information for partners of people with eating disorders. Harron addresses everything from sex and intimacy, to supportive communication, to parenting. She also covers ways to self-care and set boundaries. This book will help partners gain a greater understanding of the lived experiences of people with eating disorders.
8. More Than a Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament, by Dr. Lexie Kite and Dr. Lindsey Kite
More Than A Body is an illuminating reminder that we are not defined by the way that we look. It’s an important tool to help anyone that self-objectifies, and it offers a new way to look at our bodies, drawing on the idea that bodies serve as instruments to experience the world. For anyone that struggles with intimacy because of their body image, More Than A Body will be a needed addition to your bookshelf.
Podcasts that share powerful stories on eating disorders, body image, and relationships
9. Food Heaven Podcast
Food Heaven focuses on cultivating body image resilience. Hosts and registered dietitian nutritionists Wendy Lopez and Jessica Jones have inclusive conversations that will make anyone feel like they’re in the room with them. The podcast is packed with valuable information, and you can find episodes on sticking to intuitive eating, ways to improve sexual communication, and cultivating self-compassion.
10. Food Psych
Food Psych is all about intuitive eating and the importance of trusting our bodies at every size. Christy Harrison, who is a registered dietitian and journalist, interviews leaders in the anti-dieting space and offers important perspectives for those wanting to recover from eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and weight shame. Many episodes cover topics related to sex—everything from the connection between sexual exploration and food exploration, to how wellness culture relates to sexuality, to why dieting reduces sex drive.
11. The Recovery Warrior Show
On The Recovery Warrior Show, host Jessica Flint interviews insightful guests who discuss a variety of subjects within the realm of eating disorder recovery. Topics include the pressure of comparison on appearance, advice for dating, and the dark side of social media. Many episodes also offer coping strategies, such as cognitive behavioral skills and mindful techniques.
The bottom line
Overcoming disordered eating can be a long journey that requires the guidance of a healthcare provider, a support network, and a lot of willpower. When it comes to strengthening your sex life while struggling with an eating disorder, or on a path to overcoming one, there are also many accessible resources — whether it’s an organization, book or podcast — that can help you through the process. You deserve recovery, and you deserve to feel good during sex, no matter the circumstances. Learning to combat body insecurities isn’t easy, but there is a lot of support out there for you.