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Life Without Ed

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,966 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
Jenni had been in an abusive relationship with Ed for far too long. He controlled Jenni’s life, distorted her self-image, and tried to physically harm her throughout their long affair. Then, in therapy, Jenni learned to treat her eating disorder as a relationship, not a condition. By thinking of her eating disorder as a unique personality separate from her own, Jenni was a ...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published December 26th 2003 by McGraw-Hill Education
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Crystal W
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My recovering anorexic daughter was hospitalized in 2009. During the next year, I spent a great deal of time in waiting rooms. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on about eating disorders. This was the first book I read that truly gave me hope for my daughter. A year after her hospitalization, we were lucky enough to attend a speaking engagement of Jenni's. My daughter has a picture of a herself and a few of her compatriots from the hospital at the book signing with Jenni. It's ...more
In Life Without Ed, Jenni Schaefer shares how she ended her abusive relationship with Ed, the personification of her eating disorder. Two things stood out to me in Schaefer's book in comparison to other works I've read centered on eating disorders. First, she sticks to the theme of making Ed a person - giving her eating disorder a voice, a personality, and a hurtful spirit. This creation of Ed as an actual entity gives her book consistency and allows her to provide a variety of helpful tips: tak ...more
Jennifer Brierly
Overly simplified view of ED's and recovering from one. Strongly pushed in many treatment centers, maybe I would have been more receptive if Jenni Schaefer hadn't been shoved down my throat and this elementary book touted as revolutionary.
Alex Murphy
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book kept coming up in conversation while asking others what I might possibly do to help a struggling friend of mine.

I was simply going to give it to her and say "This was recommended to me. Read it or not, but I want you to have it," but after flipping through it, as you do any book you just bought, I found myself engrossed in it and decided to read it myself first.

I really liked the short, concise chapters. It made an already relatively-slim volume (188 pages) even less daunting to read (
Kyle Schindler
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very memorable read. I feel like the author's prior therapy experience was a definite boon in her ability to convey her thoughts and feelings, as she truly held nothing back. I feel this gave me a phenomenal understanding of just how difficult eating disorders are.

Conceptualizing her eating disorder as a man named "Ed" personified her difficulties and served to emphasize the persuasiveness and relentlessness of her thoughts very effectively. I did not just envision the abstract thoug
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, memoir
Life Without Ed was a very interesting book, although not extremely helpful at the point in my journey when I read it. I didn't take advantage of the exercises that Thom Rutledge provided at points throughout the book, although I would advise readers who are in recovery from an eating disorder to not ignore them as I did.

Jenni's voice is clear and honest and helps make the reader feel not as alone in his/her journey through recovery. She's unflinchingly true to herself about triggers and problem
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book while I was in the hospital this past March. I was in the process of being treated for anorexia, which I'm still battling today. This book was very inspiring to me, and made me feel that I was not alone in fighting such a terrible disease. With each turn of a page, I felt more and more determined to recover, whether my "eating disordered mind" wanted me to or not. Every line of this book is completely truthful, and is relatable to all who have an eating disorder. I strongly reco ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2012
A bit repetitive in some parts, but that's a good thing because there are some things we need to hear more than once. This is an incredibly helpful book that I'm glad to have on my shelf, and I really like the fact that Schaefer took into consideration the possibility of her readers suffering from short attention spans due to their eating disorders. Her decision to break her writing up into short sections throughout the book allows a lot of sufferers to sit down and work on their recovery withou ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lifesavers
A review in the beginning of this book recommends Life Without Ed "if your relationship with food is undermining your self-esteem, your honesty, your happiness, and your joy." And I couldn't agree more. Jenni's honest compassion for the reader and her sense of humor sets this book apart from others. She puts into words what I've struggled to put into my own, and does so in quick, easy-to-read themed segments. Writing this way kept my attention, and it also made it easy for me to return to the bo ...more
I first read this about six years ago. I had just begun my treatment for my eating disorder then, and this title was suggested to me by the counselor I was seeing. I found the book to be tremendously helpful to me at the time, and it's one of the first books I would recommend to someone suffering from any eating disorder.

Reading this again years later, continuing to battle my eating disorder and feeling like I still have a long way to go, I still got a lot out of the book. Because more time has
Feb 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: a professor and dear friend - a long time supporter of my recovery
Shelves: 2015, own
While there are times that Jenni Schaefer is repetitive throughout the book, the concept and theme is strong: you have to disconnect from your eating disordered thoughts in order to make room for your own.

Here is a list of my favorite essays/chapters of this book (as a reminder to myself) - and yes, they are short for a reason and the author states why:
"The format of this book is specifically designed for the eating disorder victim in mind. ... my thoughts were so consumed by food and weight t
Kristin Gheen
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone who wants to heal
Practical for anyone who struggles with an eating disorder (any kind), or wants to understand what letting go of an eating disorder is like for a loved one. Speaks to the pain of breaking things off with the eating disorder, like the pain of a breakup. So true...

Eating disorders are portrayed as an abusive relationship in this book, and that severing ties is vital to being healthy. Not the scientific/medical perspective, but I've found it necessary to recognize this element in recovery. NOT a tr
Mar 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, anyone recovering from any type of eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc.) is not going to be able to write completely coherently because our maltnutrition combined with our personal issues means our individual mental states have been so oddly affected by the disease itself that writing a truly magnificent, poetic, and touching book would be a Herculean feat. But somehow, Jenni's created as touching a novel as a "survivor" of an eating disorder possibly could. Jenni's b ...more
Laurie Hamame
It seemed to me that most of Jenni's chapters consisted of "I did this when I had my eating disorder. I don't anymore. Isn't recovery great?" While there's nothing necessarily wrong with this (and, additionally, while Jenni does spend a good amount of time talking about how tough it is and what she did to overcome it), as a book directed at those afflicted with ED, I expected (and hoped for) a more journey driven "This is what I went through, and this is an exercise I did, and this is what happe ...more
Taylor Groneck
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone struggling with an eating disorder, family, friends, mental health professionals
I recommend this book to my clients with Eating Disorders. Originally recommended to me by a former client struggling with ED/BI concerns. Schaefer writes in a manner that's engaging, easy to relate to, and informs of the struggles one faces when beginning ED recovery. A great book for clients, family, friends, and mental health professionals alike.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this a couple years ago when i was diagnosed with an eating disorder, i still come back to this book from time to time to remind myself that recovery IS possible, no matter how hard it truly is.
Mackenzie Giebel
This book has given me hope, and many ideas about who I am instead who Ed thinks I am. I am so happy and astonished and amazed after this book ended. I advise everyone with an eating disorder to read this book. Even if you are not in recovery, it can help become you again.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for school and I read it pretty quickly. Easy read and it was interesting finding out more info about this unfortunate sickness
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Has become The Bible for eating disorder recovery. The personification of the disorder, Ed, rubs me the wrong way.
julia brantley
I read this while in residential for my own eating disorder and found a lot of it very useful and inspiring. I read it after meeting Jenni and overall, wasn’t too disappointed. There’s a lot of circled paragraphs in my copy of the book. Jenni is an incredibly kind, well-intended, and insightful person.

However, I do have to encourage readers who are in a vulnerable mindset to be careful. There were some triggering bits, a particularly frustrating part mentioning exact pant size coming to mind ab
The truth: my advisor gave me this book because I struggle with binge eating disorder. Because my disorder is different from Jenni’s, there are many places where I just can’t relate or feel like my “Ed” (whose name is actually Grizelda, and she is just as heinous as Ed) is essentially hers in reverse. Mine never tells me I can be perfect or throws out life preservers. Instead, she tells me I will fail at everything I try, that bingeing won’t matter because I’ve already messed up my diet today, a ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This book is honestly very boring. And that's why it's great: It is also boringly honest.

Most books about recovery were written by people either very much entrenched in disordered thought processes or extremely nostalgic. An elegy at best and a how-to manual at worst. Definitely just function as another model for sufferers to compare themselves to or compete against.

I like that Jenni uses it explore the ups and downs of her recovery, and shows how she applied some of the techniques she learned i
Ferris Knight
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, new
"Ed, I have given you a chance for more than twenty years, and all that has gotten me is a lot of pain and suffering. It is time for me to give someone else a try."

I had heard about this book for years but nothing about the actual contents which stopped me from actually buying it. I am unfortunately absolutely buggered right now so I'll finish this review up later.
Amy Allen
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful book that anyone should read who has an eating disorder, is close to becoming someone with this disease, or who loves someone with this disorder. I had no idea what people were going through and now think completely differently about so much of life.
I'm really glad I read this book.
Emily Braaten
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
PROFESSIONAL READING: This book is a very real glimpse into life with an eating disorder. Schaefer weaves a series of vignettes (involving binge/purge/restriction behaviors) that show the ups and downs of pursuing recovery and independence from "ED." Great read for people struggling with their own eating disorders as well as those who support them.
Laura Elizabeth
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read around eating disorder recovery. Accessible and easy to relate to. Very well written by both the author and the input from her therapist. Looking forward to reading more by her.
Leah M.
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-in-summer
This book is good for anyone trying to understand eating disorders. Many books are not appropriate for someone in ed treatment, but this one would be okay, I believe. Jenni does a phenomenal job of telling a raw story in a way that isn’t triggering. I found the constant personification of “ed” to be a little much, but it’s needed to help those who have never struggled understand. Jenni doesn’t write in complex or beautiful style, but that isn’t her purpose. If you’re trying to understand eating ...more
Clare Moore
Mar 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eating-disorders
I'm sure this book has helped eating disorder sufferers gain some insight, but I can't get past Jenni's excessive use of platitudes. Also, they pushed her writing on us so hard in treatment that I developed an aversion to her on principle.
Michelle Spencer
So glad Jenni Schaefer wrote this book. Completely different way of looking at this beast of an issue. I realized what an impact this book had when I heard Ed's voice in my head one afternoon. If you have any type of ED, read this book. Try attacking this from a different angle
Sara Nelson
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very informative. A great way to get a look inside the head of someone who has an eating disorder. An excellent resource for someone who has an eating disorder, who is a practitioner that has patients with eating disorders or who is a concerned family member or friend.
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Jenni Schaefer is a bestselling author, singer/songwriter, and eating disorder and trauma advocate. Jenni has appeared on shows like “Today,” “Dr. Oz,” and “Dr. Phil,” as well as in publications ranging from Cosmopolitan to The New York Times. Her books include Life Without Ed; Goodbye Ed, Hello Me; and Almost Anorexic, a collaboration with Harvard Medical School. Currently, Jenni is at work on a ...more
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“To stay in recovery, you must be responsible for finding your own motivation. Remember, motivation may not be easy to come by at first. It will probably be a very small, timid part inside of you. When you find it, let that part be in charge. Let the minority rule and lead you to a life you never dreamed was possible” 17 likes
“I wrote in my journal about how good I felt when I was not living under Ed’s control. Then, when I really felt like giving up, I read these pages and realized that I was striving for in recovery was a real possibility. I thought about these experiences and used them as encouragement to keep moving forward. Even one minute of freedom was proof that I was getting better. At first, these times were few and far between. Now, these moments are connected; they are my life” 6 likes
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