I finally finished a book that I started months ago and I'm so glad I did. I loved it so much, I re-read some of my favorite chapters. The book is “It's Not About the Food: A Woman's Guide to Making Peace With Food and Our Bodies” by Esther Kane, MSW. Every chapter in this book spoke to me in some way or another. I loved reading her story, in fact, it sparked a past blog post of mine when I discussed my questioning if we can ever fully recover from an eating disorder. Esther's vulnerability and authenticity were inviting, which is always nice, especially when reading a self help book. It really made me feel like, “Hey, if she feels this way too sometimes, then I guess I AM doing a pretty good job!”
After telling her own story, Esther talks about types of disordered eating, which I think is imperative for those seeking help. She discusses Binge Eating Disorder and Orthorexia Nervosa, two eating disorders that aren't as well known to a mainstream audience. Next is an excellent chapter on why diets DON'T work which was full of fantastic information on many popular diets and what they do physiologically to one's body. So, if you're a science nerd like me, you'll eat all that stuff up (no pun intended).
Mindful eating came next, which I found particularly interesting because this is something I need to work on. My latest and greatest excuse is that I have 2 very small children, so I'm lucky if I get to go to the bathroom alone, let alone have the time to enjoy a meal and be mindful about it. She lays out a “Top Ten” list for mindful eating with tips such as “Take a few deep breaths before you eat to calm and center yourself” and “Turn off the phone at mealtimes so you won't be interrupted”. Basic, helpful tips!
The “Food-mood” chapter hit home for me because she talks about perfectionism and boundaries. THANK YOU, Esther! To see how these two things correlate with eating, you'll have to read the book, but I can tell you, this chapter had the best exercises in getting to the nitty-gritty of why we over eat and I should say why we under eat as well.
Meditation and relaxation comes next and I couldn't agree more that this is key in finding your mind/body connection.
“Changing Our Minds” looks at the inner voice and conversation we have with ourselves. I cannot emphasize how important this is in healing our issues with food and body image. I think there is a real thing called being addicted to self hate that many people don't even know they have. Esther says, “We may have all the money in the world, all the success we could ever dream of and even be perfectly healthy yet still feel absolutely miserable with ourselves and our lives”. I saw this first hand when I used to be a personal trainer at a gym, especially with women. It broke my heart that I saw women sweating on the stair master or lifting weights, coming to me with questions about their workout and would give me snipits of their personal life. I would see time after time, their lack of self esteem, a lost sense of self. I wanted them to improve their lives more than they knew, however it was beyond the scope of my job there, which was the reason I left and pursued life coaching. However, I digress!
Esther suggests nothing drastic, nothing too scary, everything is completely doable. My favorite thing about this book are the practical exercises in almost every chapter. She asks powerful questions which encourage the reader to think critically about things they probably have never thought about before. So many books are just talk, talk, talk and many of them are fabulously helpful, but a lot of times we walk away and the next day remember nothing we have read. But, this book, with all of its powerful exercises, is different.
There is life after eating disorders and body image issues CAN be improved. I 100% recommend this book to anyone (everyone, really) who has had issues with food, eating, body image and/or self esteem. You will undoubtedly learn something and if you put into action her advice, you're issues will improve.