The A to Z of Eating Disorders by Emma Woolf is an A to Z encyclopedia of terms and concepts related to eating disorders. Some terms, like body mass index, are covered in a couple of paragraphs, while others have lengthier explanations.
The book includes some terms not directly to do with eating disorders, such as bipolar disorder. There are a few things that aren’t entirely accurate, like the entry for hypomania directing the reader to the entry for cyclothymia. I also thought a clearer distinction was called for in the statement that “A genuine gluten intolerance might indicate something more serious such as celiac disease.” Maybe I’m just nitpicky, but it seemed to me like the book could have used a read through by a health professional pre-publication.
There are also explanations of triggers related to eating disorders, such as boredom, and an interesting discussion of whether or not it’s appropriate to talk about triggers when it comes to eating disorders.
I was a bit surprised by the line that BMI does not “take into account the fact that healthy muscle weighs more than unhealthy fat.” The notion of unhealthy body fat seems rather contrary to the idea of ED recovery.
Medical complications of eating disorders, such as osteoporosis and cardiac complications, are also described. This is done in a realistic rather than a sensationalist way, and I thought this was handled well.
Options for therapy are covered briefly, including cognitive behavioural therapy.
There were also some rather random-seeming terms thrown in like xerophagy (only eating dry food). Maybe I’m just clueless, but is this a thing in eating disorders?
The book’s cover describes the book as being “information and inspiration for recovery”. It does a reasonably good job with the information, but it didn’t really strike me as trying to be particularly inspirational. While the author has experienced an eating disorder and has written about it in another book, this book doesn’t go into her personal experience at all, and I think drawing in some elements of that could have boosted up the inspiration quotient.
While the book blurb on Amazon says the book is intended as a road map to help people out of eating disorders, I’m not convinced of that. Rather, I’m inclined to think this book would be most useful as a resource for friends or family members of people living with eating disorders.
The A to Z of Eating Disorders is available on Amazon.
I received a reviewer copy of this book from NetGalley.
You can find my other book reviews here.
My book Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis breaks down the different categories of DSM-5 diagnoses, explaining the diagnostic criteria and providing first-hand stories of the various illnesses. It’s available on the MH@H Store, as well as Amazon and other online retailers.
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