In this debut manual, a nurse who has faced her own eating problems explains why people overindulge and what they can do about it.
Smith begins this book by discussing her own health struggles, frequently drawing on her life experiences throughout the text. “Toxic hunger” is the term she has coined for a specific, destructive appetite. Individuals with this condition devour more food after eating what they need (in contrast to “healthy hunger”). Toxic hunger can be a side effect of chronic dieting, which puts the body in a state of starvation. Smith explains why crash diets are both ineffective and damaging in the long term, and details various types of eating disorders. The scientific explanations are easy to understand (there is a section on GMOs). The book also discusses the kinds of food that readers require, healthy ways to prepare dishes, and other standard advice on topics like exercise and water intake. The author offers some unorthodox tips for resisting junk food, such as imagining it is full of worms. She describes weathering many health problems, including eating disorders, and as the narrative progresses, she discloses further hardships that contributed to her condition. Smith’s deep exploration of her own life gives this book a highly personal touch compared with the usual health guides. This is a huge asset until the author discusses the death of her son as a young adult. She harshly blames herself for his death, which she believes was caused by imposing her own eating habits on him in childhood. Even though this is a sincere representation of Smith’s feelings, within the context of a health manual, it lays a psychic burden on readers, especially those who are parents. It stands in stark contrast to the solid information in the work on the biology of eating disorders, weight gain, and addiction. Input from a mental health professional (beyond just research) might have further enhanced the valuable psychology discussions throughout the book.
The author’s personal history mostly elevates this useful guide to healthy eating.