By Sunny Yingling, MS, RDN, CSSD
Reviewed for IFEDD by Janice Baker
Recover: Finding Freedom with Food Again is an easy to read, practical, and useful book that I have already shared with several of my patients both with and without an eating disorder and disordered eating. Sunny’s book breaks down and normalizes much of the prevalent confusion surrounding food, nutrition, and weight obsession that magnifies the underlying stressors in how people choose to eat and care for themselves.
As an RDN of 37 years, I’ve witnessed the surge of diet and weight loss approaches, along with eating disorders increasing at a seemingly exponential rate. I continue to work with patients across the age span who hang on to fatphobic food rules, and, recently, a fear of carbohydrates, leading to risks of malnutrition and a depletion of joyful eating.
This book succinctly explains the roles of macro and micro nutrients in an easy to understand manner. It also emphasizes the importance of not only nourishing our body, but the soul. I particularly enjoyed the easy to prepare and creative recipes at the end of each chapter, thinking while reading “I want to make that!”. Dining out is addressed, which is important, as this can be both a source of pleasure and anxiety for those struggling with eating issues, especially with the required calorie labeling on many menus. Physical activity as a health benefit for the body and mind versus a way to “earn food” or as a way to dangerously purge calories is also carefully and thoughtfully reviewed.
Sunny is a registered dietitian and Director of Nutrition with Plan Health and Fitness in Fresno, California. She provides outpatient nutrition counseling and specializes in eating disorders, sports nutrition, and weight management. Sunny has taught nutrition at Clovis Community College and was the dietitian for the Summit Eating Disorder IOP program.
A specific part of Recover: Finding Freedom with Food Again that resonated with me is each chapters’ encouraging context to experiment with cooking delicious and enjoyable dishes, adding to the practical and multidimensional value of this book. Even those of us who have been cooking for many years, for family or other reasons, may develop “cooking fatigue” or lack of interest due to a variety of reasons, and this book provides a gentle and compassionate approach to providing or restoring “kitchen confidence”.
Recover: Finding Freedom with Food Again is well organized, and physically small and compact enough that I can bring it along with me to my various classes and clinics for my patients to review. Explanations of nutrition science concepts were clear and useful for those with a variety of educational backgrounds. This is especially helpful to patients and clients who have been subjected to fear-based nutrition advice (most of my patients!) and are wary to start including “real” versions of foods such as bread, rice, and pasta into their eating plans. I feel this would be an excellent addition especially to an undergraduate college program in health sciences including nutrition science & dietetics, nursing, kinesiology and exercise science, and physiology, as a resource in how to educate on nutrition topics. I will be recommending this book to friends and family members as a reliable nutrition resource.
As an RDN, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, and Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management, my patients have complex medical issues often in conjunction with disordered eating, eating disorders, whom are confused by layers of nutrition and health misinformation from a variety of sources. Most have not had any formal education in nutrition or health sciences, and regularly ask for recommended books. I will be sure to include Recover: Finding Freedom with Food Again on my list of books to consider.