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“Brain Over Binge” Book Review – I Recommend!

Brain Over Binge BookI’m traveling for a business trip in Florida over the next two weeks. I decided because I had so much travel time that this would make for a great opportunity to catch up on some books I’ve been wanting to read.

I’d heard of the book Brain Over Binge several years ago, but never read it until now. A coaching client of mine recommended it, so I’m just a few chapters in and…

WOW…this chic gets it!

I’ve never met Kathryn Hansen, but as soon as I am done with my trip I’m contacting her to congratulate her on a) writing a killer piece of work and b) exposing people with eating disorders (specifically bulimics) to the concepts of how the brain works, habits and that addictions are not something deeply linked to emotional pain and suffering.

I think I just lost a few of you with that last comment. Yes, even I am a little wide-eyed right now as I say that but I’m more clear after hearing Kathryn explain things that she learned from a book called Rational Recovery how true that is.

Like I said, I’m only a few chapters into the book (sort of jumping around), but I can tell from what I’ve learned from my non-traditional route, the stories of many others I’ve encountered and the research I’ve studied and things I’ve learned over the past 8 or 9 years about addiction and the brain that this makes a ton of sense to me.

I have a feeling this will turn into a two-part book review because I haven’t finished the book and can’t possibly share all of the great insights yet. What I would like to do is share a few of the things I highlighted while reading the book so far to help open your mind to these concepts.. and hopefully encourage you to buy Kathryn’s book for yourself so you can really “get it”, too.

(Note: the following are all quotes from Brain Over Binge, I’m just being lazy and not putting quotations around every statement.)

An eating disorder provides solutions to one’s problems in life and is not simply about food and weight.

When Kathryn was asked by her doctor how she overcame her bulimia…

Doctor: So I assume you sought help?

Kathryn: Yes, I did go to therapy, but then I realized it was just a habit and I quit.

Doctor: ..I’m sure your bulimia was fulfilling some need.

Kathryn (internal): My doctor’s comment made me realize that there is a big problem with the way bulimia is viewed, not just among therapists and patients, but throughout society.

Today eating disorders are primarily thought to be symptoms of psychological problems like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and family conflicts….

Eating disorder experts assert that the destructive eating behavior signals an inner emotional crisis, just as fever indicates an underlying infection….

How to Stop a Binge BookHow to Stop a Binge Book

I believe that the widespread view of bulimia as a complicated problem that helps victims fill some sort of emotional need is a shaky hypothesis at best…

No one tells her [bulimic] that she has the power to stop binge eating anytime she chooses. Instead, she learns she doesn’t have much control over her own behavior – that is, until she addresses the underling emotional issues.

Therapy simply didn’t empower me to stop binge eating…

..I thought about the way I changed once I’d decided to view my eating disorder differently: by dismissing the belief that I ate for deeper, more profound reasons and, in turn, completely changing how I approached my problem.

My recovery was not typical. It did not involve special diets, emotional self-discovery, or spiritual enlightenment. It did not results from a decrease in anxiety, an increase in happiness, an improvement in self-esteem, a new medication, or any major life change. It was simply me, armed with a bit of knowledge, finally taking control of my own behavior.

I still have many of the same faults, problems, and weaknesses that I had when I was bulimic; but without the bulimia, those problems are immeasurably more manageable.

(End quotes from Kathryn)

Gosh, I could go on and on – I feel like practically re-posting Kathryn’s words here so you can benefit from all of the insights she gained…and I agree with. In fact, I think I will be going back to several sections of my own bulimia recovery website and re-vamping some things!

As I’ve said, I’m only a few chapters into the book, so I can’t give you the complete recap just yet. Here’s what I can tell you…

  • Brain Over Binge is a quick, solid, worthwhile read. It’s not overly technical, clinical or boring. It’s written by a real woman with real-life experience. Priceless.
  • There appear to be several step-by-step processes that Kathryn shares so you can learn how to unlearn the habit of bulimia.
  • Kathryn really got how to observe her thoughts so she could be empowered to change her habits and old bulimic patterns. She explains exactly what she went through and how she turned it around.
  • There are probably a lot of theapists out there who will learn a thing or two from this book.  I’m learning things that I will be introducing to my coaching clients and spreading here on my blog in the future. Awesomeness.

This is what I wanted to share with you for now. I’m on a business trip and just spent my first leg/layover writing this out. Can’t wait to get on my next plane and continue on with the book!

I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to my coaching client (I’ll call her M) for reminding me about this book and to Kathryn Hansen for working her butt off to release her bulimia and then to write an awesome book about it. Way to go!

If you’ve read this book, please share your experience, ideas or feedback in the comments below so others can learn from you, too!

With love and light,

Polly

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. First, Polly, I want to tell you that I am grateful that you share your insights, knowledge and love of life with the rest of the universe. You are a gift that I enjoy and it seems to be the only “light” I can seem to find at times. I have read this book and just felt awful for not feeling strong enough to “just quit” bulimia. I will read it again too and look at it from a different point of view. I’ve become extremely frustrated with bulimia and my recovery. You give me hope. Thank you again 🙂

    1. Hey Christa,

      Glad this has reminded you that you DO have the power within you. Sometimes our brain seems to be US, but it’s really not. When we can step outside of our thoughts and realize they’re just thoughts and we’re freakin amazing beings having thoughts, that’s when we can practice being powerful…and choosing to not let bulimia run our lives. You’ve got this my friend…always have faith that things are always working out for you. The Universe is on your side, has your back and is working behind the scenes to bring you all that you dream of. Remember to let your cork float and allow the incredible well being that is your nature.

      With love and light,

      Polly

  2. Dear Polly, I totally agree viewing things like Kathryn is a very very important or helpful step towards recovery. The underlying problems are for some of us not so easy to resolve quickly, and so we spend our time resolving our emotional/social problems etc.. and meanwile we strenghten the neural pathways of bulimia. It would be extremely important that this book is translated and read by every person who is working with eating disorder clients. It is a pity also, that in some countries there is no organisation to defend people with eating disorders (who wants to talk about it?), but only an organisations of therapists… So the really helping news don’t get spread unless there are good blogs like this one here. But I’m not sure that normal therapists read it. Luckily I started searching the internet in english about 3 years ago. I hope the therapies get better quickly than what I experienced during about 15 years of testing different therapies! Thanks for your hard work spreading your experience & knowledge!

    1. Hi Andrea!

      Thank you for the beautiful feedback and idea to help spread support for people with ED all over the world. I have had many people contact me from outside of the US because they don’t have support in their home country. I will continue to do my best and I wish you success in helping as many people as you can, as well.

      In joy,

      Polly

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