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Book Review: The Food and Feelings Workbook

I’m going to use blog space today to encourage you to read my second book, The Food and Feelings Workbook—A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health. My purpose isn’t to sell more copies (though that’s always nice!), but to share with you a powerful vehicle for learning about your emotional relationship with food. If you already know about the workbook, have read or are reading it, well, then you don’t need to continue on and have a few extra few minutes today to do something else.
The workbook came about from my experience treating people who worked hard on becoming “normal” eaters but couldn’t get there because of how they used food to prevent or lessen uncomfortable feelings. It didn’t matter whether they were over- or undereaters or yo-yoed back and forth. The issue was how they turned to food to avoid and modulate emotional distress. The workbook explains the purpose of feelings (Oh, they have a purpose!) and why we fear them, which we all do to some extent. It goes on to describe in detail seven emotions which are difficult for disordered eaters—guilt, shame, confusion, disappointment, loneliness, anxiety, and helplessness. For each emotion, there’s a description of how to identify it, how it’s meant to steer us toward life enhancement, how it drives food abuse, and how to handle it effectively.
Throughout the workbook there are fun (and not so fun) exercises that help identify, experience, and manage emotions effectively. Basically, the steps are to: acknowledge a feeling, identify it, experience it, recover from it, and take action, if need be. The goal of each exercise is to give you a little stretch in getting comfortable with emotional discomfort. The goal of the workbook is to give you a big stretch, so that you have the experience of connecting to feelings and understanding that they aren’t going to destroy you. Instead, they’re going to help resolve your eating problems and improve your life.
Additionally, I advise on the FoodandFeelings message board (FoodandFeelings) which supports the workbook. Members are in different phases of learning about emotions—some have just ordered the workbook, others are reading it and sharing progress and concerns. Several have completed it. The workbook is, well, what can I say: work. No way is it an easy read. But since when is having an eating disorder easy? I mention the message board because some of you might like a support group to help you through feelings work. The workbook is not meant to be used in lieu of therapy, but as an adjunct, and the board is yet one more recovery aid. I might add that the board is very welcoming to newcomers. If you haven’t already, give the board and workbook a try.