Eating problems: self-help books

An Introduction to Coping With Eating Problems   
Author Gillian Todd, 2011.

'Simple, informative. Practical tips'.

Suitable for Carers
It uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as a way of helping to overcome problems like anorexia and bulimia nervosa.  Part one describes eating disorders and some case histories. These are helpful regarding the nature of the condition. It also touches on causes and gives a brief overview of treatments. It is written in simple language and is easy to understand. Part two outlines some useful techniques. It gives insights into what the recovery process entails. This is a good book for someone suffering from this type of problem as well as for family and friends. 

Anorexia Nervosa: A Survival Guide for Families, Friends and Sufferers  
Author Janet Treasure, 1997

'A clearly written educational book containing practical advice. Not a step-by-step treatment guide. Good start'.

Suitable for Carers
This is a clearly written guide for people with anorexia and their families. It focuses on understanding anorexia, and the effects that the condition can have on patients and their relatives, before describing practical steps that can be taken to help recovery. Acknowledging that anorexia leads to strong emotions, including fear, the book attempts to overcome misunderstanding by providing answers to questions often asked by patients, their families and friends. The book deals with the recognition of the condition, issues of blame and denial, and helpful and unhelpful responses of family members to anorexia. Nutritional aspects and the health hazards of starvation are also addressed. The book provides a wealth of sensible information but it is an educational resource rather than a step-by-step self-treatment guide.

Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa
Authors Christopher Freeman & Peter Cooper, 2009

'Good general overview of Anorexia Nervosa and treatment approaches. This book offers a complete self-help recovery programme for overcoming anorexia'.

Review: This book incorporates insights from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which has now been demonstrated to be effective in helping to overcome conditions such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks and eating disorders. The book provides descriptions of the eating habits and the underlying psychological and social problems that may result in anorexia. The treatment strategies suggested by the authors focus on reducing symptoms by changing negative beliefs and thought patterns. There are practical guidelines for uncovering faulty thinking patterns and then changing these. This self-help guide is written expressly for those who want to tackle their problem on their own, and to take control of their own recovery without formal treatment. However, the author is also careful to guide the reader towards additional sources of professional help, and the physical dangers associated with the condition are duly emphasised.

Overcoming Bulimia Nervosa & Binge-Eating
Author Peter Cooper, 2010.

Comprehensive CBT-based treatment programme.

This is a self-help guide for people with bulimia or binge eating disorder. It contains a good deal of valuable educational material based on recent research. It is a comprehensive self-treatment Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) programme that follows tried and tested clinician-directed procedures. Detailed strategies are described for the self-control of bingeing and purging. In common with many other such books, strict adherence to the complete therapy programme described will demand considerable commitment on the part of the reader. Incidentally, the book includes important information and warnings about the dangers associated with repeated vomiting. It is very easy to read and the layout keeps you engaged. Each step is followed by a review box, allowing the individual to identify problems and obstacles. Chapter five is particularly insightful regarding dieting behaviour and common areas of difficulty. Chapter six touches on the value of thinness, perfectionism and distorted thinking. This is a good text with a lot of punch for its small size.

The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Bulimia: A Guide to Breaking Free from Bulimia Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy 
Author Kelly Wilson et al, 2011.             

'Useful for some patients with bulimic behaviours although it perhaps requires a certain level of commitment and motivation'.

Mindfulness approach
Although well presented on text and on CD, this book may require a level of focus and concentration that would be difficult to sustain in early recovery stages. This may be better for those mid-stage in the recovery process. It also requires an openness to being still, meditating and using workbook exercise sheets. The sheets can be time-consuming and again require a level of stillness that is not easily achieved in early recovery. This manual would also require a level of education and literacy which will appeal to some not all. Overall, this book is well presented however may be useful to only a select group of individuals.