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Book Review: 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook

Our society continues to be obsessed with body image and body shaming. Young girls and boys are placed at a disadvantage if they feel they do not measure up, and often feel they have to conform to societies “ideal” body shape.

Authors Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb write that their book, 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder can be useful for anyone who has self-defeating or destructive food- or weight-related behaviors. Readers do not need to have a formal eating disorder diagnosis to benefit from the workbook.

“Everyone’s journey of healing and recovery is unique,” write Costin and Schubert Grabb.

The authors begin by emphasizing that readers should not compare their recovery successes or failures against those of another person. Recovery is not a linear journey; it will include setbacks and triumphs. They also write that knowing what to do is the easy part, it’s getting it done that takes some doing.

The workbook format allows for easy-to-do assignments, and the chapters are comprehensive and tightly organized. The assignments and activities are designed to focus on increasing skills, self-awareness, and self-compassion which ultimately may lead to behavior change and recovery.

According to the authors, the more an individual feels in control of the process, the more beneficial it will be. They do caution, however, that in addition to using the workbook, readers who have been given an eating disorder diagnosis should also incorporate professional help into their recovery.

The workbook incorporates many personal accounts from people who have been or are still on their recovery journey, which provide useful anecdotes of personal struggles, insights and encouragement. What is especially impactful is that the authors have struggled with their own eating disorders, and share their challenges, setbacks, and successes openly with the readers.

One assignment, which deals with identifying difficult feelings, instructs the reader to read the list of feeling words—which include things like failure, shame, hurt, powerless and successand to check off the feelings that they may find particularly difficult to deal with.

The reader is then encouraged to take two words from the checked list and explore each in more depth through a series of specific questions. This exercise is designed to help the reader to recognize, understand, accept and handle feelings that challenge them. By facing and embracing the feelings and accompanying thoughts, the reader is more equipped to let them go.

The workbook also includes optional journal entries that readers can complete.

Each chapter contains one of the eight keys to recovery, and explores the path to addressing eating behaviors in depth. Each key addresses a separate aspect of recovery, and provides extensive information, resources and activities to encourage and challenge the reader.

For example, the third key, which is entitled “It’s Not About the Food,” presents information and assignments that increase a reader’s awareness and understanding of what may have caused or contributed to their eating disorder. This chapter explores the psychological issues, biological vulnerabilities, relationships, and life experiences that may help the reader address their issues.

This workbook is a must-have on the bookshelf and is a great resource for doctors, clinicians, group therapy facilitators, individuals and family members who may have a loved one struggling with an eating disorder.

8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook

Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb

W.W. Norton & Company

March 2017

Softcover, 288 pages

Book Review: 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook

Psych Central's Recommendation:
Worth Your Time! +++

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Paula Lopez

APA Reference
Lopez, P. (2017). Book Review: 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 4 Aug 2017
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 4 Aug 2017
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