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I've never had anorexia, but I know it well. I see it on the street, in the gaunt and sunken face, the bony chest, the spindly arms of an emaciated woman. I've come to recognize the flat look of despair, the hopelessness that follows, inevitably, from years of starvation. I think: That could have been my daughter. It wasn't. It's not. If I have anything to say about it, it won't be.
Millions of families are affected by eating disorders, which usually strike young women between the ages of fourteen and twenty. But current medical practice ties these families' hands when it comes to helping their children recover. Conventional medical wisdom dictates separating the patient from the family and insists that "it's not about the food," even as a family watches a child waste away before their eyes. Harriet Brown shows how counterproductive—and heartbreaking—this approach is by telling her daughter's story of anorexia. She describes how her family, with the support of an open-minded pediatrician and a therapist, helped her daughter recover using family-based treatment, also known as the Maudsley approach.
Chronicling her daughter Kitty's illness from the earliest warning signs, through its terrifying progression, and on toward recovery, Brown takes us on one family's journey into the world of anorexia nervosa, where starvation threatened her daughter's body and mind. But hope and love—of the ordinary, family-focused kind—shine through every decision and action she and her family took. Brave Girl Eating is essential reading for families and professionals alike, a guiding light for anyone who's coping with this devastating disease.
Harriet Brown is a regular contributor to the New York Times and also has written for O, Redbook, Psychology Today, and other publications. Her previous books include Feed Me!, which is also the title of her popular blog that covers food, weight, and body image (harrietbrown.blogspot.com).
“As a woman who once knew the grip of a life-controlling eating disorder, I held my breath reading Harriet Brown’s story. As a mother of daughters, I wept for her. Then cheered.”
“What sets this book apart is the author’s incorporation of clinical research findings from the field of eating disorders into the story of one family’s struggle . . . [A] compelling story of family strength and an inspiring story for all of us committed to treating individuals with eating disorders.”
-Evelyn Attia, MD, Director, Center for Eating Disorders, Columbia University Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College
“One of the most up to date, relevant and honest accounts of one family’s battle with the life threatening challenges of anorexia. Brown has masterfully woven science, history and heart throughout this compelling and tender story. Brave Girl Eating was fortunate to have one brave family.”
-Lynn S. Grefe, Chief Executive Officer, National Eating Disorders Association
“Harriet Brown is an intelligent, elegant writer and this book offers both solace and useful information for families struggling with eating disorders.”