TED Talks for eating disorder recovery

TED Talks for eating disorder recovery

There are thousands of TED Talks on almost every topic you can imagine, but are there any that are good for eating disorder recovery?

Luckily, there are! And while I don’t include some of the most obvious choices that are directly related to eating disorders, that’s largely on purpose. Talks about eating disorders can be challenging. They may perpetuate harmful stereotypes about eating disorders, instill fear in people who have eating disorders, and even trigger eating disorder beliefs and behaviors.

So apart from Glennon Doyle, who mentions her recovery as part of her talk, I have not featured any specific eating disorder talks. Instead, I focus on topics that are helpful to recovery.

TED Talks selected for eating disorder recovery

Here are the Ted Talks that I think are both helpful for someone who is in eating disorder recovery:

Bodies as Resistance: Claiming the political act of being oneself, Sonya Renee Taylor A powerful presentation about body liberation from the author of “The Body is Not an Apology.”
Lessons from the Mental Hospital, Glennon Doyle What recovery from bulimia and substance abuse meant for her, and how she found it.
Body Positivity or Body Obsession? Learning to See More & Be More, Lindsay KiteWe need to go beyond body-positivity and teach girls and womens that they are more than their bodies.
How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime, Nadine Burke HarrisChildhood trauma is a feature in many people’s eating disorders, so learning the science of trauma is important.
How to practice emotional first aid, Guy WinchPracticing emotional first aid is something that few of us learn but that is essential to recovery.
The gift and power of emotional courage, Susan DavidWhen we learn emotional agility and courage, recovery can seem like it is within our reach.

Selection criteria

I sought TED Talks that would be appropriate for someone who is in eating disorder recovery. Therefore, these talks don’t include fatphobia, sexism, or eating disorder behavior descriptions. They are mainly about claiming our own bodies, metabolizing emotions, and finding our unique voice.

However, in two cases I have provided trigger warnings. These let you know if I think the concepts covered within the talk might be challenging.

If you believe I have missed a trigger or didn’t include a talk, let me know!

Bodies as Resistance: Claiming the political act of being oneself | Sonya Renee Taylor 

Sonya Renee Taylor is a powerful voice for body liberation, which lies at the heart of eating disorder recovery. “Our bodies are political – the personal is political, whether we want it to be or not,” she says. In this talk, she differentiates body love from body liberation and encourages us to find Radical Self Love. This talk is inspirational for any person in any type of body. “Waking unrepentant in our skin is a hero’s journey,” she says. In conclusion, Sonya Renee Taylor is a unique and important voice. She’s particularly helpful for anyone who has ever felt marginalized or unseen in the eating disorder community.

Lessons from the Mental Hospital | Glennon Doyle Melton

⚠️⚠️⚠️Trigger warning: this talk includes discussion of binge eating, purging, self-harm, drinking and drugs⚠️⚠️⚠️

Glennon Doyle has a history of bulimia and substance use. She begins her story with her eight-year-old self, who developed a persona to mask her insecurity. She talks about numbing, hiding, and pretending, which can be part of an eating disorder. “I did not want to deal with the discomfort and messiness of being a human in the real world,” she said. Her recovery began with a positive pregnancy test. She shares some good descriptions of what it’s like to go through recovery. “Sitting with the pain and the joy of being a human being, while refusing to run for any exits, is the only way,” she said. However, her talk may be triggering for some.

Body Positivity or Body Obsession? Learning to See More & Be More | Lindsay Kite

Lindsay Kite was a competitive swimmer until she quit due to body image concerns. She hated the way she looked in her bathing suit. “My body was never the problem; my problem was my body image,” she said. Along with her twin sister Lexie, Lindsay is redefining the meaning and value of beauty. “[Women] are [seen as] bodies first, and people second,” she said. “We are focused on making sure women are valued as more than bodies to view.” Therefore, this is a helpful video for anyone who struggles with body image.

How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime I Nadine Burke Harris

In this talk, Dr. Burke Harris discusses the dangers of childhood trauma and shares the importance of preventing and treating childhood trauma. “The science is clear: early adversity dramatically affects health across a lifetime.” This is an important talk because childhood trauma is often a factor in eating disorder development. And healing from an eating disorder often means we get in touch with the impacts of our childhood trauma. As a result, this talk can help us better understand trauma.

How to practice emotional first aid | Guy Winch

Guy Winch discusses the importance of emotional hygiene and says it is as essential as daily tooth brushing. “What do we teach our children about emotional hygiene? Nothing. How is it that we spend more time taking care of our teeth than we do our minds?” he said. This is an important TED Talk for eating disorder recovery because emotional hygiene is an important part of recovery. Learning to care for our mental health is often the key to living free from our eating disorders.

The gift and power of emotional courage | Susan David

Susan David studies how we deal with emotions. “How we deal with our inner world drives everything. Every aspect of how we love, how we live, how we parent, and how we lead,” she said. This TED Talk is important for eating disorder recovery because feeling feelings is a part of most treatments. Her method of practicing emotional ability may be helpful in eating disorder recovery. For instance, she teaches that emotions are data that we can use to find our way home to ourselves.

What’s missing?

Perhaps you notice that Brené Brown’s incredibly popular talk on vulnerability is not on this list. I have enjoyed her books and her TED Talk. However, in her famous TED Talk talk, she uses weight as an indication of poor health and disease. Perpetuating that particular myth contributes to weight stigma, which contributes to eating disorders.

Motivating someone with an eating disorder to recover can be challenging. These TED talks can help!

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Published by Ginny Jones

My mission is to help reduce body hate, disordered eating, and eating disorders.