As a writer of books on eating and weight, I’m always interested in reading what other therapist authors have to say on the subject. One book I highly recommend is HEALING YOUR HUNGRY HEART: RECOVERY FROM YOUR EATING DISORDER by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Though highly personal, HEALING YOUR HUNGRY HEART is not another memoir, but a smart how-to-recover book from a wise and caring teacher.
Although the book seems primarily geared to women with bulimia and anorexia, binge-eaters and men with these problems will get a lot out of it. One of my favorite chapters is on early warning signs of having an eating disorder because it teases out the subtle ways—including cultural pressure—we con ourselves into believing we’re “normal” eaters when we’re not. Poppink’s chapters on Boundaries and Family are also enlightening. As a therapist, Poppink explains how troubled eaters allow their boundaries to become violated and how that can lead to emotional disregulation and unwanted eating. Her chapter on Family lays out how difficult it can be to make changes in your eating and your life when those closest to you often want you to stay exactly as you are. She gives advice on how to keep on growing in spite of unsupportive messages, including standing behind your commitment to recovery.
The book begins with Poppink’s chronicling her long-term eating disorder and amazing, though gradual, (there’s no other way!) recovery. Lest my description make the book sound professionally distant, let me assure you that it’s not. Sprinkled throughout are case examples from Poppink’s lengthy career as an eating disorder therapist as well as anecdotes about her own struggles and transformation. What makes her such a powerful teacher is this exact combination the personal and professional. Each chapter ends with a list of daily exercises that include meditation, affirmations, eating practices, and homework. Appendices include a long, useful list of affirmations, additional exercises, facts about and solutions for eating problems, journaling prompts, sources of professional help, and recommended readings and references.
This is not a book to devour all at once. Like food, it’s meant to be taken in a little at a time so you can savor and digest each morsel. More and more as I get older, I enjoy the unhurried pacing of books like this which underscore our need to relax, stay present, take it slow, and get there when we get there. To learn more about Joanna and her book, visit her website at "http://eatingdisorderrecovery.com/" and to read a recent blog I wrote as a guest blogger on her site, go to "http://bit.ly/qrc5mE"