BOOK REVIEW: Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder and Take Your Life Back by Shannon Cutts (HCI, 2009)
Posted Jun 08 2009 6:55pm
Author Shannon Cutts has created a smart little book in Beating
Ana for anyone struggling with eating issues. The theme of the book, which
I whole-heartedly endorse, is developing relationships to replace eating
disorders. Cutts couldn’t be more on target when she says that we need to “feed
our minds and hearts with the empowering stories of others.” To extend the
metaphor, the book is a most satisfying meal.
The focus of Beating Ana is on mentoring. Cutts
defines a mentor as “one who is recovering who understands and can give hope
and support from an insiders’ perspective.” This concept is the foundation of
the “Anonymous” organizations and works well for recovering from a host of
problems and addictions. As Cutts underscores, it is precisely our isolation
and shame that keep us cut off from our authentic feelings and from others. By
allowing ourselves to be mentored and by mentoring others, we reconnect with
our emotions and reinforce the process of relating to others in healthy ways.
Mentoring, as mentor or mentee, provides plenty of practice in being dependent
and being depended upon, and forms the basis for turning to people as a substitute
for food obsession and addiction.
Through letters and emails of disregulated eaters and her
responses to them, Cutts addresses a host of topics, such as feeling powerless
around food, taking risks, self-affirmation, fear of food, living your dreams,
feeling fat, grieving the loss of eating problems, positive self-talk,
rebellion, reparenting the self, and relapse. She uses her own story and the
stories of others to create a dialogue between the mentee (writer) and herself
as mentor-responder. In each chapter, she also includes useful homework
assignments, provides resources, and offers Life Celebration Affirmations.
Cutts, a talented musician, is a triumphant survivor of a
15-year struggle with disordered thinking and disregulated eating, and “founder
of Mentor CONNECT, a community where mentors and mentees can connect to
experience the power of mentoring, and of Key to Life: unlocking the door to
hope, an organization that offers events, workshops, concerts, and products
and services to facilitate recovery from eating and related disorders.” You can
find more information about Cutts and her work at http://www.key-to-life.com/. Her book is
available wherever books are sold.
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blogs and will do my best to address topics/questions you raise in future blogs. I cannot provide individual responses, but encourage you to post your
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