I feel very fortunate to have been given a copy of the latest book by Aimee Liu, ‘Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives’ to review for you here at Beautiful You. The fortunate feelings have arisen because I consider it to be one of the more sound and also inspirational books on eating disorders I have ever read; a work I would gladly recommend to any person whose life has been touched by an eating disorder.
In my many years as a counsellor and eating disorder advocate I have read many books about eating disorders. Some have been very necessary from a clinicial perspective, but a little dry as a whole. Others have been more personally based accounts and autobiographies about the harrowing journey someone has gone through to recover from an eating disorder. Many of these stories I have found profoundly moving, and the individual perspective has given me an indepth insight into someone’s struggle that often only the raw words of a personal story can convey.
‘Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives’ is a wonderful blend of contributions from academics and the real life experiences and anecdotes of brave individuals who either are, or have battled, with an eating disorder. It provides a rich tapestry of professional guidance and personal insight that I have not seen in any other book on eating disorders to date and is therefore a wonderful blend of the academic and personal.
Gifted writer and eating disorder survivor Aimee Liu has edited ‘Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives’ and considering her other works in this arena including Solitaire and Gaining it could not have been in better hands. Aimee has gently peeled back the eating disorder journey into six main parts – Turning Points – Setting the Stage for Recovery – Treatment – Restoration – Discovery and Wise Minds.
Each part contains excerpts from some of the worlds leading experts in the treatment of eating disorders. While this may sound impressive in and of itself, it’s what they have to say and the way in which they say it, that has impressed me most. I love how each of the professional contributions speak directly to the mind and heart of those who are trying to journey towards wellness and away from their eating disorder. Each appear to write with them as the audience in mind, offering both gentle tips and bold suggestions on everything from the power of journalling, to how to choose the right therapist to how to believe in yourself and grasp hold of a new life beyond the cruelty of an eating disorder. It is exactly the way I would have wanted to be requested to write for an important work such as this.
Each part of ‘Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives’ also has contributions, some small, others larger, from eating disorder survivors. Their words are soulful, inspiring, and I have no doubt will be a guiding light to anyone reading who has at some point in time been near to where they once were. They share what things helped them with their recovery, do’s, don’ts, feelings of ambivalence but also determination, how others supported, how others hindered, and what recovery means to them now. There surely could not be more powerful words for someone still struggling to read, especially knowing they are connecting to the person who has written them in the knowledge that they have once personally experienced the depths of the illness that they are currently battling with.
I also wish to make mention of how each of these personal contributions do not ever make mention of things such as food rituals, calories consumed or not consumed, or someone’s weight. I consider each of these things to have the distinct potential to trigger and actually promote harmful feelings in someone with an eating disorder, rather than be helpful in any way. While this is just my personal opinion, I also know from many eating disorder survivors and those still struggling that they dislike reading such things too and have found it has given them ideas on how to collude with their eating disorder and even made them feel like they were not sick enough because they did not weigh what someone else did or eat the way they did. ‘Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives’ is refreshing to me by not including this information and understanding the power of what is not said, leaving the power of words beyond calories and weight to hold court.
‘Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives’ comes with my heartfelt recommendation. Not only is it a wonderful book for those in recovery to read, it is a must read for carers, loved ones, eating disorder professionals and students wishing to enter this field as well. All proceeds from Aimee’s work are being given to the Academy for Eating Disorders making it just another reason to consider it a sound purchase.