The author, Julie Jeffs, a counsellor and psychotherapist, first tells of her own eating disorder as a teenager. This raw honesty puts the cream on this sensitive practical approach to individuals suffering from eating disorders. Her key starter sets the tone: "It isn't what or how they're eating: it's what's eating them." Having given a clear definition of the three types of eating disorder - anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating - she goes on to explain the reasons why an individual might be consumed by such an illness. Through case studies she gives examples of what might bring on such a state, describing how to make contact and to build a trusting relationship with extremely under- or over-weight individuals.
Such eating disorders bring anxiety, anger and distress to family and friends, and the author presents a list of dos and don'ts in enabling sufferers to go through five stages of recovery. From being un- or under-aware of the difficulty, through preparation and action, she leads to a process of maintenance of betterment. She provides tools for recovery, and shows what can trigger a binge, and lists organisations for support and treatment.
Practical to the end, she gives a key point to be aware of for each of the three types of eating disorder when help is being offered. Bite-size pieces of help are enough for anorexics; with bulimia a lot of help may be swallowed and vomited back at you; and you might feel that binge eaters will eat you up completely.
This booklet is for those involved at any level of expertise or training with people with eating disorders, with a view to greater empathy and focus in care, and to stimulate further reading or training and better skills and knowledge. It provides plenty to chew on!
© Denis Blackledge SJ
EATING DISORDERS: caring for yourself and others Julie Jeffs
Redemptorist Publications, 64 pages, pbk, 2018, £5.99
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