Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Appetite Awareness Workbook – A Book Review

This well composed self-help book for disordered eating focuses on teaching the reader to adjust their eating habits based on physical cues instead of on external stimuli. At first I thought this approach might be problematic for more severe disordered eating habits as starvation and binge episodes can reset internal, physiological, metabolic signals. If a person starves themselves for an extended period, for instance, the body will grow tired of being constantly hungry and the person will cease to have an appetite drive. As well, when that person does eat, the body wants to take in as much food as it can and the person will also not have the feeling of being full, even if they are in pain. But this problem is addressed briefly in the book, arguing that the underlying signals for appetite are still there, they just need to be brought into awareness.

The book contained a fair amount of text, something I find to be a good quality in self-help books which might otherwise become overly redundant with their worksheets. The text gives the reader more insight into how and why they are working a particular issue. It offers support and encouragement during the recovery process as well.

The worksheets that were in the book, I found quite appealing; there was more of an inter-active, fill-in-the-blanks approach to record keeping (as opposed to circling a number or checking off symptoms from a list). Even the rating type worksheets kept the focus on mindful record keeping, using the scales more as visual aids. Also, the homework exercises begin challenging thinking patterns from the onset of the book, instead of introducing it as an exercise somewhere near the end of the book.

Mindfulness is the key concept in this book and they do a good job of reminding and guiding the reader through the process of becoming more aware.

Work is done on both a general and specific scale of mindful eating where appetite, instead of food amounts, is monitored. The book helps identify healthy and unhealthy external cues for eating and offers suggestions on how to maintain control of your eating in social situations where a number of pressures may occur. The author also spends a good amount of time near with an ending that encourages phasing out monitoring behaviours towards a sustained, mindful approach to eating and helps set out relapse plans.

One problem I had with this book (which I have with all self-help books) is that it requires the reader to be subjective about their thoughts and behaviours. As with any more severe disorder, readers should be encouraged to use these books as aid within a therapeutic framework.

A more specific problem was that the book was centered around binge eating. There were two appendices that briefly outlined AAT approaches to bulimia, purging, and restricting behaviours, but these chapters would have been better placed at the beginning of the book to help those people focus their work from the very start.

Final Rating: If I was a psychiatrist with an annual book allowance, this is a book I would add to my shelf and recommend to patients.

1 comment:

  1. I have mined your blog on several occasions for observations of interest. I am a student and researcher of neuroscience with some philosophies of my own on its panoply of subjects. You have been somewhat of a resource for me in terms of contemplating some of these matters(some of which I've blogged about).