"Almost Anorexic" provides shades of gray in black-and-white world of eating disorders

I attended a Twitter Chat last night with "Almost Anorexic" authors Dr. Jennifer Thomas, of Harvard Medical School, and Jenni Schaefer, a best-selling author on eating disorder recovery and NEDA ambassador (if you missed the chat, you can check it out on Twitter at #AEDchat). After the chat, I looked more into the book and its resources and I immediately added it to my library. Here's why: 

  • In many ways, the book provides shades of gray in the black-and-white world of eating disorders. It expands the 'normal eating to eating disorder' continuum by elaborating on subclinical disordered eating; this is termed "the almost effect" (see figure in gallery below). It also eases the dichotomous thought that treatment isn't necessary until you have received an eating disorder diagnosis.

  • The book is helpful for clinicians as well as individuals struggling with any kind of behavioral or emotional eating issue and their loved ones. There are practical tools and resources available, such as: how to support a loved one with almost anorexia, what normal eating is, and what full recovery from almost anorexia looks like. You can view these resources in the gallery below.

  • The book validates the struggles of individuals who do not meet the diagnosis of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. Attention is given to the fact that those who do not meet the full-criteria for an eating disorder still experience pain and suffering because of their behavioral or emotional problems. I think this can lead to more individuals who are suffering from subclinical disordered eating patterns to get the help and support they need before the issues develop into full-blown pathology.

  • The book can help reduce the misunderstanding of eating disorders. As a clinician who works with individuals suffering from eating disorders and subclinical disordered eating, I cannot tell you how many times I've heard the words, "They/I/You don't look like they/I/you have an eating disorder." These words have been spoken in many contexts, most of which the conversation was centered around the severity of an eating disorder. In our culture, somehow appearance has become the yardstick for which the severity of an eating disorder is measured, with an "underweight" or "obese" appearance being the only indicators of serious illness. This is a dangerous misconception. Eating disorders do not discriminate. They can affect individuals of all weight, sizes, and shapes. In fact, eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS; the most prevalent eating disorder diagnosis in which full-criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder are not met) has eating pathology, comorbidities, and physical health problems just as severe as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders. Read the research here.

I've added "Almost Anorexic," to my must-read list. Please share your thoughts and reactions to the book below - I'd love to hear them! 

You can join Jenni and Jennifer on Thursday, July 11th at 7:00 pm at BookPeople in Austin, TX - they will be speaking about their new book and signing copies! Proceeds will benefit the Austin Foundation for Eating Disorders. Learn more about the event here.

 -Chelsea