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Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too
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Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,725 ratings  ·  206 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
Paperback, 188 pages
Published December 26th 2003 by McGraw-Hill Education
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  2,725 ratings  ·  206 reviews

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Crystal W
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
*10+ years later, my daughter is doing great. That is not to say she doesn't still have anxiety, but she has been able to carry the lessons she has learned with her so that she can manage it. I still attribute this book as one of the major milestones in her recovery.

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 r
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
May 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Alex Murphy
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
✨ kathryn ✨
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Second read; still as good as the first time! As someone who has been in pseudo-recovery for a few years now, so his was such an important re-read for me. Genuinely excited about going back to therapy post-vacation and tackling the anorexia for good! Full of hope!

Potentially the most influential eating-disorder-recovery-focused book I've come across so far. Laid out so very clearly, with the most fantastic tips on how to stay recovery-focused, and anecdotes that even non-ED humans can relate to
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
I am in recovery from an eating disorder and have read this book three times over the last few years, and each time I have had a different reaction to the pages, and so I will separate my review into three sections.

1) The first time I read this book it was mandatory reading while I was receiving inpatient treatment for anorexia. I was extremely malnourished and had difficulty concentrating or holding information, the short chapters and short sentences were really helpful because that was all my
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Amanda Hope
Feb 22, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-and-therapy
a review at the beginning recommends this book "if your relationship with food is undermining your self-esteem, your honesty, your happiness, and your joy." i couldn't agree more! jenni's honest compassion for the reader and her sense of humor sets this book apart from others. her quick, easy-to-read themed segments made this a smooth read. this style of writing kept my attention, and also made it easy for me to return to the book and refer to specific topics. being able to say "screw you" to a ...more
May 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
highly disappointing, but I think it has a lot to do with my personality. It was too much of a Mary Poppins approach to me, and I found myself saying, "This is not what it's like. It's not this easy." But I know people who have gotten a lot of help from this book. ...more
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Has become The Bible for eating disorder recovery. The personification of the disorder, Ed, rubs me the wrong way.
Elise Woodard
Jan 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
I found this book very triggering when I read it with an active eating disorder.
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jenni Schaefer shows how the process of recovery isn't linear because there are always going to be new challenges. She also provided many examples of how to separate yourself from your eating disorder. In the book, she made a divorce decree from Ed and even made her own Deceleration of Independence. Not only does she gives us these examples but she also encourages us to participate in them. Her therapist is also part of this book and he talks about the journey of Jenni as well. I believe that in ...more
Joy Anderson
Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Coming from a recovered anorexic, I’ve read nearly all the books on eating disorders. This book is great for someone on the outside to read. It gives you a glimpse inside the mind of one struggling. It’s not only a helpful book for someone struggling but also for someone who’s trying to support one with an ED.
Rachel Harper
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My therapist gave me this book & I already want to go buy my own copy so I can re-read and mark the whole thing up! Also loved that the chapters were SP short!! Like no more than 3 pages, it made me feel like I was reading SO fast & I felt accomplished lol
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As someone who is currently battling an eating disorder and working with a therapist to externalize their eating disorder, this book was an excellent read. Whether you are battling an eating disorder yourself, know someone living with an eating disorder, or just want to know what it’s like to battle an eating disorder this book is a great, educational read.

10/10 recommend
Georgia Bell
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book.
On one hand, I am completely stunned I didn't write it myself. Every chapter seemed to mimic my own struggles. And more shocking, the way I think about myself and food. It was the first time I realized I am not alone and what I'm dealing with is a serious illness that affects millions. There is great comfort and confidence to be found in that. It made me take this book seriously.

On the other hand, I don't know if I'm far enough along in my recovery to be ab
Kristin Gheen
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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
T Goodnight
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
Iyari D
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adults and teens
Recommended to Iyari by: A therapist
This book really has got me through a lot of things personally. I really enjoyed reading this book although I have read it twice now. I liked going more in depth with the book considering the fact that I really have matured my mind enough to read a book like this. I feel for this book personally more than other people. The synopsis of this book mainly is about how the author herself who has had her past struggles with her eating disorder,depression,and anxiety. She talks about how everyday her m ...more
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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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Some interesting news for book nerds: According to recent industry research, book sales spiked dramatically in 2020–otherwise a rather...
27 likes · 12 comments
“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” 18 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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