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Book Review: The Eating Disorder Trap


Although The Eating Disorder Trap by Robyn L. Goldberg, RDN, CEDRD-S was written as “A Guide for Clinicians and Loved Ones,” much of it is equally useful to people with dysregulated, dysfunctional eating. So, feel free to learn from this book, pass it on to your therapist who may know little about the specialty of treating eating disorders (EDs), and encourage intimates to read what Goldberg has to say from her decades as a registered dietitian helping clients and their loved ones make recovery happen.

Full of valuable information and insights, chapters are short and to the point with simple graphics, case examples, and research data and conclusions. The book begins by explaining how lack of accurate information about EDs in our culture lays the traps that unwittingly snare people into them. Goldberg shares the truth about BMI, what “normal” eating entails, why diets fail long-term, and how to decide the best weight for ourselves. 

She laments how the public, media, medical providers, mental health clinicians and others often fail to identify and deal with EDs in a way that lays out a path for true recovery. Deficits include lack of ED training for providers, misinformation about diets and weight-loss that are marketed as truth, frequent medical misdiagnosis of higher weight people, and the stigma of and pervasive bias against being fat in our society. 

Goldberg describes the education needed for early ED diagnosis and effective treatment and how to encourage full recovery by using appropriate, non-judgmental language, shifting away from a weight and weight-loss focus, and knowing the signs of dysfunctional eating as well as the components of “normal” eating. It is especially important for all of us to understand that the ED population often suffers in silence and how we can lessen their shame with compassion so they can get help and heal.

The book covers many types of EDs—anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating, orthorexia, pica, and night eating, among others—which worsen the longer sufferers fail to receive effective treatment. To identify these conditions, Goldberg provides samples of ED tests and a screening tool of five simple questions to assess if someone might need the help of an ED specialist. 

Must read sections for dysregulated eaters include the serious damage that occurs to the body (that is, our internal organs) from disordered eating and the basics of nutrition in a simple, effective format that is easy to understand. The book ends with a discussion of “the eating disorder voice” and how to replace it with healthier self-messaging to escape the eating disorder trap and live our best lives.