I started reading Regaining Your Self by Ira Sacker, MD and I could not put it down! I actually finished it in one sitting. The book breaks down Dr. Sacker’s different approach to treating eating disorders and the many things he learned in his thirty-five plus years doing so.
This book is not about food, nutrition, or eating. There’s no diet plan or calorie count, no list of good or bad foods, and very little discussion of eating habits. Instead, it focuses on breaking free from the eating disorder identity and all of the psychology behind it, which I found fascinating.
From a patients perspective, this book will not necessarily give you concrete actions to take, but it will greatly help you understand the personality and identity issues and other things that lead one person to an eating disorder while another person in a similar situation avoids it completely. The author mentions in the book that while it is partially genetic, genes load the gun but environment pulls the trigger.
Despite the lack of action steps that will appeal to most people with ED, the insights into the issues behind the disorder will help give a greater clarity around triggers and recovery. It’s very interesting to me to see the link between people with high anxiety and related perfectionism and how that seems to lend itself to an eating disorder. Dr, Sacker also talks about the tendency towards black-and-white thinking and obsessive behaviors in patients.
What made me pick up the book was the idea that many suffering from ED adopt the disorder as their personality. Because it is their main focus, they lose their passions, their values, and their sense of self. Their is no identity other than the disorder. For me personally, changing my eating habits was much easier than recovering this lost sense of self. It reminds me of a statistic I read a long time ago that said that women smokers had a harder time quitting than men because they tied smoking to who they were and felt like giving it up was giving up their identity.
The main takeaway for me was to do whatever it takes to discover your passions and interests again, and as those grow the eating disorder voice will shrink. If you’d like to grab a copy for yourself, visit my Amazon link.