Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Be FreED: Recover from your eating disorder at any age

Although I have never had an eating disorder, I've struggled at various times with weight and appearance issues, like many women.  When I was a young girl, some of my relatives seemed to constantly comment on my weight, and that of my sisters, whenever we saw them.  It seemed like that was very important to them.  I know that to some extent this is normal, adults do notice the physical changes children go through as they grow up, but as a child this made me acutely aware of my appearance.  I was very skinny as a young child, but once I stopped growing in height and started to fill out a bit, these comments would make me feel quite self-conscious. Why did they pinch my cheeks?  Was I getting chubby?  Like many teenagers, I went on crazy diets with friends from time to time (one of my favorites was the ice cream diet, when we'd only eat Häagen-Dazs ice cream). Somehow, I muddled through those years without developing an eating disorder.  Fast forward to my pregnancies.  When I was pregnant, it was hard to bear getting on the scale at the doctor's office and hearing the "innocent" remarks, such as, "oh, you must be eating a lot of cookies, eh?", or,  "you are getting big, ha, ha",  from the staff.  Wasn't I supposed to gain weight at this time, for the baby's sake?  These comments would undermine my confidence in my appearance during my pregnancies.  (Please ladies, be sensitive to our pregnant sisters.  Pregnancy is hard enough.)  Today, I rarely weigh myself, and really only strive to fit into my clothing and to be strong.  I'm thin but I have a good relationship with food, I think.  I'm health-conscious and I enjoy food.  I try to make healthy choices, most of the time, and I exercise regularly.  I've tried to raise my children, especially my daughters, without making them overly concerned about weight or appearance, but it has been difficult to do this in a culture that places enormous emphasis on physical appearance.

" 'I'm not good enough, I'm not skinny enough, I'm not pretty enough' was all I would ever hear from the degrading mouth of Ed, also known as my eating disorder."
~ Mallory Faye, Be FreED

I decided to read Be FreED: Recover from your eating disorder at any age by writer, speaker, and singer Mallory Faye because I know that eating disorders affect countless millions of people.  Published in 2014, this memoir sounded like it would be a positive and hopeful book that would teach me a few things about eating disorders.

Very early in life, when she was a dancer as a little girl, Mallory had thoughts of "needing to be thin and perfect", and her eating disorder began when she was in elementary school.  Although Ed (her name for her eating disorder, as mentioned in the quotation above) was still telling her that she wasn't thin enough, she was diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia as a teenager.

"Eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, and genders.  Ed doesn't discriminate.  The woman in front of you checking out at the grocery store may just be struggling with bulimia.  You don't have to be emaciated to have an eating disorder."
~ Mallory Faye, Be FreED

In this book, Mallory candidly tells her story, and describes how she is able to stop the restricting, bingeing, and purging, and to free herself from Ed.  With the help of a treatment team and plenty of support from friends and family, Mallory is able to recover fully from her eating disorder. In Be FreED, Mallory refers to a traumatic incident in her past that affected her greatly and contributed to her eating disorder.  Fortunately, she was able to get the help she needed, and to effectively break free from Ed's strong grip.  Referring to her eating disorder as Ed is a clever way to present the eating disorder as a distinct, separate, critical being who must be dealt with and conquered.  Although it's a daunting challenge that requires change and committment, Mallory knows that she must "be freED" from Ed.  In her  book, there's a chapter about the Ed box she creates, and in a later chapter, she "divorces" Ed.

I've heard that it's very difficult to overcome eating disorders, because they tend to be complex, but Mallory is determined to not only help herself, but others as well.  Be FreED shows her genuine concern for others as she shares her experience, and what has worked for her.  Mallory provides a lot of practical ideas and strategies for those who suffer from eating disorders, and her writing is honest, friendly, and encouraging.  She is truly a "hope activist", and proves that "recovery and life beyond your eating disorder is possible".  She lists valuable resources for those afflicted by eating disorders, including organizations that she's worked for, such as NEDA (the National Eating Disorders Association), at the end of the book.  I recommend Be FreED to all who struggle with eating disorders. 

Thanks to Jocelyn from Kelley & Hall for sending me a complimentary copy of Be FreED. Mallory, I wish you much continued success and fulfillment in your careers as a writer, speaker, and singer.

Your comments are welcome. 


  1. I don't have an eating disorder but I'll add this book to my list for future reference because I know that sometimes people in my life confess things of which I am not aware and, when they do, I like to have resources to educate myself on hand.

  2. Be FreEd sounds like a helpful book for those who struggle with eating disorders. Like you say, our society places such emphasis on outward appearance and on weight. There is so much pressure out there to be thin and to 'look good'. It's a shame really. Being healthy and feeling good about oneself should be stressed instead.
    I know what you mean about the pregnancy thing, I gained 54 pounds with my son! I'd get the remarks as well, all in good fun they thought, but it was surely annoying.
    Great post Suko!

  3. Sounds like a good book that woman of any age might enjoy and benefit from. I suspect we would all be nodding our heads in agreement as we read many of the passages.

    Thanks for sharing

  4. This sounds like a great resource for those struggling with an eating disorder. Thanks for sharing your great review Suko.

  5. Definitely a book I'll recommend for the college library as I know many students suffer with weight issues. Thank you for raising such an important issue and for sharing your story.

  6. Thanks for the recommendation. I have a relative who has an eating disorder, who, though she seems to have it under control might find this helpful.

    It is flabbergasting and sad what pressure society puts upon young girls. this pressure seems to stay with so many women for life, whether they have eating disorders or not.

  7. Great post and a great review. Interesting topic.

  8. I often worry over my three daughters, 16, 18, and 20-I see how much of their self image comes from appearance. The impact of the media is so great on this. This book sounds very valuable..in times in my life I have used food as others would drugs or alcohol, to escape.

  9. After having dealt with tons of stupidity lately, I came to your blog to dive into your intelligence. Thanks a lot Susan!

  10. Thank you all for the supportive comments. I think that it's very important to learn more about eating disorders, as they are quite prevalent. This book offers valuable suggestions and techniques for battling the insidious Ed!


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