I Read: Brave Girl Eating

A couple of days after I wrote “My Offensive (?) Obesity Post” I came across a book called Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown.  It was returned to the library along with a lot of other materials on Anorexia and Bulimia.  Obviously, someone was doing research on eating disorders.  When I see such a huge number of materials on one particular health topic, I often wonder if they’re researching for school or if it’s for a more personal reason.  It’s none of my business and I would never ask, but still I wonder.

Seeing this book (and all of the others like it) in the sorting bin reminded me of my earlier post about the stigma that probably should be associated with obesity, the difficulties associated with leading a healthier lifestyle and how we learn to be obese by mirroring our families.  I admit that I don’t know much about eating disorders, so I picked up Brave Girl Eating because it was the story of a regular girl, with a healthy family life and no history of abuse or mental illness who “fell down the rabbit hole of anorexia.”

I really liked that this book wasn’t just about the struggles of Kitty, the adolescent girl who developed anorexia.  It was about the family’s struggle to bring her back through Family Based Therapy (FBT) instead of the typical institutional therapy that is prescribed for most anorexics. I also appreciated that Kitty’s story was used as the common thread as Ms. Brown discussed the research she performed on her daughter’s illness.  Her research included clinical trials, studies, articles, books and websites – many of which painted a terrible picture of Kitty’s future.

Those of us who have never had an eating disorder find it unfathomable that someone would refuse to eat, or would purge in some way just because the image they carry of themselves is so skewed that they cannot see the skin and bones everyone else does.  We cannot imagine how difficult, trying, and painful such an illness is for the families who feel powerless in the face of this disease.  It’s all just sick and sad, and not researched nearly enough.

So, while I do still think we need to do everything possible to not be obese, I think we also do need to make sure that we’re not taking it to the other extreme: starvation.

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