Book Review – Lasagna for Lunch
Lasagna for Lunch: Declaring Peace with Emotional Eating by psychotherapist Mary Anne Cohen, is a book you’ll want to read and refer back to—as a sequel to French Toast for Breakfast or as a stand alone read. If you’re a compulsive or emotional eater, both books have a great deal of wisdom to offer you.
First off, I like Cohen’s style and format. She talks about her own food problems and recovery, switches to her therapist hat and provides advice on how to stop abusing food and your body, then drives her point home as an educator by detailing anecdotes and case examples from her years of clinical experience. You can see the breadth and depth of this book in her chapter headings: Evolving from Impasse to Possibility, Frozen Grief and Emotional Eating, The Inner World of the Emotional Eater, Body Image and Culture, Childhood Attachments and Eating Disorders, The Family—from Conflict to Connection, Sexual Abuse and Substance Abuse, From Gridlock to Growth—Confronting Obstacles to Change, Psychotherapy for Eating Disorders—A Second Chance, and Food, Glorious Food—Declaring Peace with Emotional Eating.
My problem with various books written by non-clinicians about recovery from an eating disorder is that writers tell you only how they overcame their problems. Cohen, however, melds both her considerable experience and expertise—she’s the Director of the New York Center for Eating Disorders—with her personal trials and tribulations around food and weight. I love her exploration of attachment theory which goes beyond eating per se, and enlightens the reader about how absent or negative early childhood attachments shape our relationships with ourselves and others, and can set us up for eating disorders. She goes on to describe how food compulsions may be connected to other substance abuse problems to give a fuller picture of why we end up on destructive chemical and emotional paths.
As I do in Starting Monday—Seven Keys to a Permanent, Positive Relationship with Food, she explores the underlying reasons that make it hard to give up food for comfort and weight as a buffer to help us negotiate life. And she speaks to men and women, gay and straight, overeaters and undereaters, lay people and their treaters. Her chapter on psychotherapy gets right down to the nitty gritty of client-therapist work. If you’re in therapy, you’ll see yourself and your therapist in this chapter and if you’re considering therapy you’ll get a better idea of how it heals you. With the mealtime titles of her two books, I wonder what new wisdom Cohen will be serving us up for dinner.