How Anthony Bourdain Will Kick Your Eating Disorder’s Ass

by Eden on August 21, 2011

One of the key things to recovering from an eating disorder is finding the right therapist, a friend, or a role model that will kick your ass and talk you out of the dumb things your brain conjures up.

I had a great therapist. But I also had someone very unlikely help me.

Anthony Bourdain.

Although I never sprawled out on his couch for 50 minuets while I cried about my thighs being huge and how I’ll die alone eaten by the cats I’ll hoard, his philosophy about food and eating is one I try to model.

How did the cynical, no bullshit author/chef help me with my recovery? True to my form, I think its best I lay this out in bullet point form:

“Its Just Food!”: An episode of Bourdain’s show, No Reservations, aired about a year ago about people obsessed with food. Three bloggers were featured in the episode and openly admitted to using food blogging to fill a void in their life  (specifically the lack of women and sex). This sounds a lot like what my eating disorder inflicted upon me: it filled a void (and I guess lack of men in my case). Bourdain’s take:  ”It’s just food”. All of the analyzing and food porn camera shoots ultimately take away from the experience of a meal and the company you’re with. Sure, some people subscribe to belief that they just want to share every wonderful meal and feel the need to prove how awesome they are through their recommendations. But when you have an eating disorder, this isn’t healthy. Food is your medicine and its great and all, but its just food!

 Eat for the Present (Not for the Future or Past): A big issue I had with my eating disorder was strict rules about what I was gonna eat and feeling of guilt about what I already ate. This is no way to eat! Thinking about the past is useless, thinking about the future implicates unnecessary anxiety. Anthony often says, “Enjoy it in the moment. Savor the experience. Move on.” Right on. If I’m hungry now, I eat NOW and move on. It’s not like its my last meal on earth.

Be Realistic: Web MD interviewed Bourdain a little while ago (I know, how Web MD got him to agree to be interviewed is beyond me). They asked if he had any New Year’s resolutions to which he replied,

“No resolutions. I’m realistic.”

I think when it comes to recovery, being realistic helped a lot. I remember negotiating with my dietitian like I was at car dealership. I just had to be real with myself. I knew 15-20 pounds would not come on me overnight, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to lay off the exercise and chow down like linebacker. In the end, being realistic helped my sanity and actually got me to my weight goals.

You’re Stronger Than You Might Think: From all the foreign street food Bourdain has consumed, he’s only gotten sick one or two times.

Ok, no matter how strong my stomach is, I'm not a fan of tenticles

 In recovery, its important to keep in mind our bodies are incredible machines! They can handle a lot of calories without morphing you into McDonald’s grimace (who I personally think is adorable anyway!). Laying off exercise won’t kill you, and neither will eating 4,000 calories or however many it takes you to eat per day in order to be at a healthier weight.

Sometimes, You Just Have to Tell Your Eating Disorder To Fuck Off: Anthony just happens to be good at cursing

And in regards to food blogs…..

I’m not sure I consider my site a “food blog”. I love food, its my profession, and occasionally like to write about it. But I have never whipped out my camera at a restaurant for a photo shoot and loath the label “foodie” (no offense Jolene, with you its ok).

 I agree with Anthony–it’s just food.

As Bourdain says,

“food bloggers are a necessary evil and undoubtedly the future. But rather than be so competitive and hostile, bloggers should embrace what food is all about–community.”

Amen, Tony.

Do you have people that inspire how you eat or your attitude towards your food choices? Do you agree with Bourdain’s points?



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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristina @ spabettie August 21, 2011 at 6:22 am

I also dislike ‘foodie’. but I love Bourdain. and I agree, it’s just food, and food IS community, bloggers should not get all twisted up and competitive. yes, he has pretty much dedicated his life to food, but in a GOOD way – it is completely and wholeheartedly to enjoy the food. to try new (and often crazy!) things, always with interesting people, and it is an experience. I may take photos and yep, even in restaurants (I always call ahead to ensure it’s okay), but everything about food for me is to enjoy, to celebrate, to savor or nourish. even if it’s a protein smoothie ;) I’ll enjoy it!


Eden August 21, 2011 at 6:35 am

and you SHOULD enjoy it. Esp if it looks like boobs and makes you fart ;)


Sara K August 21, 2011 at 7:14 am

Man, I have a massive crush on Anthony Bourdain. I agree so much with his point about food being all about community- it is, and besides my eating disorder I was raised with the notion of food being a centerpiece in social gatherings, a way to unite families/friends/colleagues through shared sustenance.
Yes, I do take pictures of my restaurant meals if I know it’s appropriate to do so- mostly because I enjoy the artistic components that go into making a dish- the ingredients, plating, etc; it may have once been a bit about food porn, but I’m far too nourished now for that to be “titillating”.
The idea of “eating in the present” has helped me tremendously in recovery, to just relax and enjoy, not worry about the nutritional stats or how HUGE my thighs are going to get from this plate of truffled mac n cheese


Eden August 21, 2011 at 7:23 am

I have a crush on tony too. I feel weird cause he’s about 10 years younger than my dad, but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one.


Missy August 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I was going to add that AB also reminds me of my sex-drive…that’s always good for recovery.

You gotta eat if you wanna get….fed.


Jessy (squeezetheday) August 21, 2011 at 8:16 am

I agree with these points! I miss the time when eating/food was just thyt, nothing more and nothing less. Nowadays it’s like a rocket science!

One of the reasons why I could never be a blogger is that I think taking photos of everything you eat is weird … I would feel extremely uncomfortable.


MelissaNibbles August 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

God, he’s sexy.

I had to come to a lot of these realizations and take a good hard look at how blogging was affecting me. I used it as a crutch and an excuse to only eat certain things. I didn’t want “bad” food on my blog. What would people say?! It was stupid.


Gina (The Candid RD) August 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Oh I LOVE Anthony Bourdain!! He’s my hero. Great post, I had never thought of him as an ED therapist, but now that you mention it, his words come together well to kick an ED’s ass! I love how blunt he is, and how he takes food and makes it an art, but not visually….more like an art with words (which I know is his profession, but he rocks at it!). And his use of curse words just makes it that much more fun :)


Rachel August 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I too think Tony’s hot. And many of these points are things I work on trying to teach my son–My SIL (his aunt) has battled bulimia in the past & my husband & I suspect she’s borderline anorexic these days (she’s a serious mess, so it’s one part of a whole train wreck), and I myself struggle with emotional eating, so I’d like to avoid my son having to go through anything of the sort as he gets older. I let him in the kitchen with me, and we have a garden, so he’s getting an idea of where his food comes from. I also try to make our dinners all “warm & fuzzy”, so he can (hopefully) associate good food with good memories. And while I do take pictures in restaurants, that’s more to show that we have pretty decent food out here in the middle of nowhere! :)


Missy August 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm

People who inspire the way I eat these days are actually the healthy bloggers that I read (you, Deb, Janetha, etc). I have stopped reading many others who triggered my ED even more. My attitude toward food choices has changed in the past several years due to family members with cancer and me finding so many cancers (especially breast) in younger people. A 24 year old had ovarian cancer last week! It’s insane – so I just figure better quality food overall can’t hurt and thats my inspiration there. Food is just food, I agree but to ED sufferers (B/P), it can also be a “drug” or way of escape (temporary). I just wish I could go back to when it was just food and I didn’t worry about going over my perceived allowed calorie intake for the day.

I love Bourdain’s philosophy – I need him to come give me a good swift kick in the arse!


Susan August 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm

T. Bone is a personal hero of mine. My dream job is his…as a female. I probably wouldn’t have a huge following since I don’t curse as much nor do I have his affinity for exotic seafood, but that’s why it’s a dream.

I get where you are coming from. I love food too; it’s pretty awesome. But 80% of my meals are eaten on the go, look like poo, are not worthy of a picture (though many of them do get their day in the limelight). So yeah…

Love you dear! Happy Sunday!


Eden August 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm

T. Bone? I love it. It sounds gangsta!


Missy August 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Mt dream job is to be his female to. (0;


Missy August 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm



Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen August 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Damn girl…Foodie is my job title now.

Do you hate me?


Eden August 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I can never hate. I’ll turn a blind eye ;)


lindsay August 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm

amen tony for sure! I love that guy. This was an awesome post Eden. Food is about community, culture, and so so much more. When did Americans lose sight of this. Ugh.


Missy August 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Did you used to have more of a food blog, Eden? With pictures of daily eats and stuff?
Just curious.


Amanda August 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm

You know how Andy and I feel towards Mr. Bourdain. Andy would love to be him. I would love to eat with him. But then I’d want to blog about it….ack!


Anonymousynonym August 22, 2011 at 12:41 am

I really needed to hear this today, especially “Eat for the Present (Not for the Future or Past)”. I mean, that’s true of everything in life (“be in the moment” is always good advice), but I’ve been angsting about not enjoying my dinner for the past hour. I feel like that’s the worst part of an eating disorder–the way it hijacks not just the body but the mind, even for years after weight recovery. Anyway, thank you.


Klh August 22, 2011 at 2:53 am

Great post!


Deb August 22, 2011 at 3:08 am

Bourdain is hot in that old, crusty, edgy way. I read his first book a thousand yrs ago when he said something like “people who don’t know what they really want… Order chicken” haha love him! Tough love Tony <3


Chuck August 22, 2011 at 4:36 am

Cool post Eden- I liked it!


Autumn August 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Came over here from Verging on Serious and you have a new subscriber now. Love this post! I’ve been in recovery for a couple of years now and I use “it’s just food” as a mantra sometimes. I actually had to stop doing “foodie” things altogether (I used to be a pastry chef, would go to all the new restaurants, etc.) because it was just keeping me focused on food. But I’ll still read Anthony Bourdain’s stuff (I’ve never seen his show, I admit) because it shows how food is a part of culture, not something to be the receptacle for all our emotions.


Sarah August 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

“Eat for the Present (Not for the Future or Past)”

I love this! It’s a unique approach to eliminate emotional eating. I’m eating now because I’m hungry and I’m enjoying my meal. Never really realized Bourdain’s depth!


Nancy August 22, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I kinda love you for this entry. I love Bourdain and his frankness.


Eden August 23, 2011 at 9:08 am

yea, I kinda love me too. Wish Bourdain thought the same way….


Jolene ( August 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Awwwwe, I am glad you say it is okay for me :-) I don’t mean it in the pretentious, annoying way. It is really grotesque to me too when someone says, “I am SUCH a foodie.” Barf.

Bourdain is very, very wise. My first time in NY I went to a few of his favourite places and also tried his favourite meal – Bone Marrow at Prune.


Tara August 27, 2011 at 4:39 am

I found your blog by googling anthony bourdain’s “it’s just food” comments and I’m so hooked. I’m ed recovered, too, and while I have been binge, purge, etc. free for many years, I was HOOKED on healthy living blogs. They were such an amazing way for me to get the same ed rush without being “unhealthy.” I recently read a book called “it’s not about the food” and started re-examining my eating habits. Food being “just food” is central to my beliefs these days. I like the raw humor you bring to the subject and am excited to keep reading.


Eden August 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

Wow, I feel flattered to be on the same search as Bourdain! Yes, too much focus on food is never a good thing. But I also think you can’t discount it. It is and isn’t about the food, I guess.


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