Book Review: The A to Z of Eating disorders

book cover: The A to Z of Eating Disorders by Emma Woolf

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


You can find my other book reviews here.

Have you checked out my new book Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis?  It’s available on Amazon and other major ebook retailers.  It’s also available on the Mental Health @ Home Store, along with my first book, Psych Meds Made Simple.

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9 thoughts on “Book Review: The A to Z of Eating disorders

  1. Meg says:

    Huh. I learned a new word about eating dry food! It’s kind of interesting. Maybe it has something to do with texture issues? Like, I can’t eat anything mushy.

    And yeah, the BMI should totally take into account muscle tone. HA HA! It sure wouldn’t improve my BMI, though! 😀

  2. Mira Afiouni says:

    hey Ashley, thanks for all these book reviews, they really summarize the books in a very accurate way!
    I have a question not related to this topic. About books, what is the length of this book for example ? I wrote a guide of 10 pages and I’m not sure if I should sell it on amazon for really cheap or just give it for free! what do you recommend?

  3. Jenni says:

    I gave this to my parents after I left rehab. It’s a better tool for families to have questions answers kind of like a source book, but it certainly didn’t help me. Great post!!!

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