By JANNA HOWARD
Published: August 8, 2013
Recently published as part of Harvard Medical School’s The Almost Effect series, a book series examining medical conditions falling in the gray area between “normal” health and a fully diagnosable condition, Almost Anorexic provides a thorough picture of subthreshold disordered eating behaviors. A collaboration between Dr. Jennifer J. Thomas, an assistant professor of psychology with Harvard Medical School, and Jenni Schaefer, chair of the Ambassadors Council of the National Eating Disorders Association, the book is an informative account of both technical and clinical aspects of eating disorders. True to its name, Almost Anorexic describes what they call “almost anorexia.” This term captures those individuals who do not meet full blown DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder but still exhibit various disordered eating behaviors. Almost anorexia captures the spectrum between “healthy” and threshold, or according to this series, “almost” eating disordered.
Almost Anorexic pairs research findings with highly relatable personal anecdotes and case studies. The book details different factors that contribute to a problematic relationship with food, encouraging the reader to recognize the danger signs of swimming in the grey zone between healthy and eating disordered. The book covers not only behaviors directly related to food such as binge eating and restricting, but other relevant topics such as compensatory behaviors and body image. In addition, Dr. Thomas and Jenni thoroughly explain the physiological and psychological changes that may occur in “almost eating disorder” syndromes. They propose a variety of solutions and suggestions for recovery, including multiple activities throughout the book for the reader to do on their own.
Almost Anorexic is comprehensive and well-rounded. The writing is both scholarly and approachable. Almost Anorexic paints a picture of a dangerous middle ground in a way that practitioners, caregivers, and patients can relate to.