Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Book Review: Overcoming Binge Eating
I don't generally read or write book reviews (and this will probably be one of few on this blog), but since I recommend this book often to clients, I thought I should do so here as well. If you've been reading my blog, you know about my history of bingeing. And I know from some reader responses I've gotten that some of you reading this are also dealing with disordered eating. In grad school, I met with a therapist who helped me tremendously in a relatively short period of time. While doing research on my many papers on eating disorders (my thesis was on eating disorders in men), I realized that the techniques and homework assignments she was giving me most likely came from this book: Overcoming Binge Eating, by Christopher Fairburn. If you do any research on eating disorder studies, Fairburn's name will doubtless pop up. He's a leading researcher on the topic, and this book has been clinically tested. It has two parts: the first is background information on bingeing; the second is a self-help manual that can be used alone or in conjunction with a therapist. I actually requested this book for Christmas last year. Can you imagine my family's response? It was pretty funny actually. My mom got it for me because no one else wanted to...it's not exactly a "fun" present. But for me, it was one of my favorite gifts, and I was eager to read it.
The background information in the first section was pretty much old news for me, having studied it so much. But I've heard from one of my clients that she learned a lot that she didn't know. For me, the self-help section was what I was interested in. The main step is keeping a journal of eating, but this journal includes the what, where, when and why of what you ate. Much like my therapist had me do, you keep a journal that helps you pinpoint your triggers. The goal of the book is to help you get to the point where you can be around those "trigger" foods without bingeing. This is one point where I haven't quite decided whether I agree with Fairburn. Many people who binge refuse to keep certain items in the house because they can't handle it. In Overcoming Binge Eating, you stay away from those foods at first, but eventually reintroduce them. While I agree with the idea of learning to eat everything in moderation, I do believe there are some foods that are more likely to trigger binges for some people. For instance, I occasionally buy peanut butter, but I've found that the more I eat it, the more I crave it. So for me, I feel it's better to limit it.
I thought of this book today because of a particular client of mine. She recently began reading Overcoming Binge Eating and is already starting to make connections between bingeing and certain triggers of hers. She's also lost over 30 pounds, and I'm proud to say is now under 300 pounds! (Keep it up! You're doing so great!) Despite my personal experience and educational background, there are times when I feel like I don't have all the knowledge I need to help my clients. And these are the times when I'm happy if I have a good resource I can rely on. Overcoming Binge Eating is one of those resources, and because it's a self-help manual, it's one that I highly recommend if it's a problem you're dealing with yourself.