Reviews

As a practicing psychiatrist and educator who treats eating disorders, I am often asked the question by a patient, family member, or student, “What are the best available books to assist in the ‘real world’ treatment of eating disorders? Are there any books that offer guidelines that are accessible, sound, and not ‘watered down’?” Dr. Judy Scheel’s When Food is Family is such a text. I recommend it enthusiastically and will keep it on my bookshelf to suggest to families who come for consultation and treatment.

Kathryn J. Zerbe, MD, Professor of Psychiatry & Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst

Families coping with clinical eating disorders have hungered long and hard for a book like When Food Is Family. Based on her decades of experience, Judy Scheel has written the clearest, most user-friendly guide to understanding and addressing the complex emotional and relational issues underlying these frightening and mysterious problems. No shame or blame games here — just information showing how disruptions in relationships or attachments have affected the individual and how these can be healed. Clearly, concisely, and compassionately, When Food Is Family conceptualizes the eating disorder as a metaphorical quest for comfort through food and provides exercises to help families and patients develop a language of emotions so feelings can be expressed directly instead of through self-destructive behaviors. When Food Is Family fills a gaping hole in the eating disorder literature — this is the one book I will recommend to all family members facing an eating disorder.

Margo Maine, PhD, FAED, CEDS

Eating disorders create and deepen disconnection within families. Parents often struggle to understand their child’s inability to change behaviors that are often life threatening and intractable. Eating disorders also thrive in disconnection and full recovery usually involves not only nutritional and weight restoration but real relationship repair and restoration as well.
When Food is Family provides clear and sophisticated exercises for rebuilding attachment and connection. Grounded in the science and research of attachment theory, these guided self-explorations will help families re-establish the empathy, security, and connection necessary for lasting recovery from these complicated illnesses.

Douglas W. Bunnell, Ph.D., FAED

Families coping with clinical eating disorders have hungered long and hard for a book like When Food is Family. Based on her decades of experience, Judy Scheel has written the clearest, most user-friendly guide to understanding and addressing the complex emotional and relational issues underlying these frightening and mysterious problems. No shame or blame games here—just information showing how disruptions in relationships or attachments have affected the individual and how these can be healed. Clearly, concisely, and compassionately, When Food is Family conceptualizes the eating disorder as a metaphorical quest for comfort through food and provides exercises to help families and patients develop a language of emotions so feelings can be expressed directly instead of through self- destructive behaviors. When Food is Family fills a gaping hole in the eating disorder literature—this is the one book I will recommend to all family members facing an eating disorder.

Margo Maine, Ph.D., FAED, CEDS

Eating disorders create and deepen disconnection within families. Parents often struggle to understand their child’s inability to change behaviors that are often life threatening and intractable. Eating disorders also thrive in disconnection and full recovery usually involves not only nutritional and weight restoration but real relationship repair and restoration as well. When Food is Family provides clear and sophisticated exercises for rebuilding attachment and connection. Grounded in the science and research of attachment theory, these guided self-explorations will help families re-establish the empathy, security, and connection necessary for lasting recovery from these complicated illnesses.

Douglas W. Bunnell, Ph.D., FAED

When Food is Family is an excellent book for anyone who struggles with an eating disorder and for their loved ones, especially parents of someone struggling with an eating disorder. As Dr. Scheel says in her book, ‘This book is written primarily for parents, guardians, and other family members who have a child with an eating disorder still in the home’ (p. 9). I love Dr. Scheel’s approach because she manages to give parents ways to help their child without blaming the parents for causing the eating disorders. This book provides exercises in each chapter to help parents explore their thoughts and feelings about the eating disorder and provide promptings for change. She also includes exercises specifically for the person who is struggling with the eating disorder. I love this hands-on approach because it gives the readers something to do. And when you’re wanting to help a loved one but don’t know how, doing something feels so good! This book explores some good basics that should be addressed in therapy, such as emotions, body image, family dynamics, setting boundaries, and the definition of “recovery”
(such a loaded word, right?). She offers some great insights and suggestions in all these areas. My favorite phrase in the whole book? ‘Gentle perseverance.’ Love it! That’s her recommendation for parents attempting to open up more meaningful communication with their son or daughter. That basically sums up both my experience in treating those diagnosed with an eating disorders AND my goal as a parent. (I say that it’s my goal as a parent because sometimes I don’t feel so gentle!) Dr. Scheel includes some great resources at the end of the book for anyone looking for eating disorder treatment–websites, treatment centers, how to know when to seek treatment, etc.

Amy Harman, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
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