Life Without Ed Book Review
By Leah Gardner, Dietetic Intern
Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer
In Life Without Ed, Jenni Schaefer does an extraordinary job at not only explaining the life of living with an eating disorder, but also how it can be overcome. In her book, Jenni characterizes her eating disorder as an abusive partner with whom she is in a relationship. This man’s name is Ed. Jenni describes the unthinkable and uncontrollable things that Ed would force her to do, depicting just how terrible their relationship was. She also describes how she was able to gain freedom and essentially “break up” with Ed with the help of her support group and therapist, Thom.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Life Without Ed is the declaration of independence Jennie wrote for Ed. In this declaration, resembling the United States Declaration of Independence, Jenni states that she will be separating herself from Ed and from his tyranny. She explains how this separation allowed Jenni to find happiness, end her cycle of binging and purging, heal her relationship with herself and her friends and family, alleviate her need for perfectionism, and find food freedom once again. Jenni describes how she was able to overcome these obstacles driven by Ed’s control and provides insight as to how others struggling with an abusive eating disorder can too.
Jenni also describes her relationship with one of Ed’s colleagues, Ms. Perfectionist. Ms. Perfectionist insisted that anything Jenni did was never good enough and urged her to never make a mistake. One tool Jenni used to separate herself from Ms. Perfectionist included finding the ability to distinguish her voice from her own. She learned how to persistently ease up on herself rather than striving for the impossible, perfect. Jenni states, “After all, in recovery and life it is persistence that really pays off. Forget about perfection.”
I found Life Without Ed a fascinating read that enabled me to understand how much control an eating disorder can have over someone as well as the ins and outs of the recovery process. Jenni is open and honest about her separation and recovery process, making this book an essential resource. Jenni was able to share her own experiences and tools for recovery in a light-hearted manner that is a suitable read for older individuals with an eating disorder, for anyone who knows someone with an eating disorder, and healthcare professionals in the field.