Local author chronicles her "food frenzy"
FALMOUTH — After struggling with “food frenzy,” a local woman is hoping her new book helps others cope with the confusing world of food.
Susan Lebel Young, the author of “Food Fix: Ancient Nourishment for Modern Hungers,” was born and raised in Falmouth and spent much of her life in Portland raising her children. A retired psychotherapist, she doesn't think of herself as a full-time writer, but thought a book on dealing with what she calls “food frenzy” could help some of her patients and, hopefully, others.
“Writing is a fun and poignant way that I feel I can still contribute in a helpful way,” she said.
In her practice, Young saw many women struggling with food-related issues and she herself struggled with weight and body image. Many women, she found, ended up in a yo-yo cycle of dieting: signing up for weight loss clubs, going to meetings, and eventually falling back into old habits.
“All of (the weight loss clubs) were obviously helpful in some ways, but at some level they didn't help me heal my relationship with food,” said Young.
“They would give me a food plan and I would follow it but I kept thinking that there has got to be something that helps me heal this 'I can't have it but I want to have it and I shouldn't have it' feeling.”
After many years of this cycle, she finally used her training as a yoga and mindfulness teacher to bring herself a sense of peace. She also began writing her story in a journal, but later ripping the entries up because she didn't want anyone to read them.
That process changed, however, after she realized that she wasn't alone in her struggle.
“I started saving (the journal entries) and I realized I am not the only person in the world who suffers from this,” she said. “Every single woman I saw (in my practice) had some kind of something.”
Young eventually decided to publish her journals as a memoir, and publishers told her she needed to show more about how she reached her sense of peace. So she added what she calls "antidotes" to food frenzy at the end of her chapters.
Each chapter concludes with three antidotes that aim to help people be more mindful about what they put into their bodies. The antidotes range from meditation as a method of impulse control to an exercise where you travel through a grocery store picking out only foods that could be found in the Garden of Eden.
Young said that “Food Fix: Ancient Nourishment for Modern Hungers,” is very different from other books. It's definitely not a diet plan, she said, although she worked with many diet books in her writing. Instead, the theme is more about being mindful of food instead of dealing with it on autopilot.
“I hope it is a voice of sanity in a very confusing culture around food,” she said. “I think it is a different voice, and I was inspired by the fact that it is really possible to heal.
"It's not easy; there is temptation everywhere. But it is possible. Certainly if I could heal anyone could.”
Young has several book discussions and signings in the area over the next month, and said she hopes the events will bring out people interested in learning more about mindful eating and stopping their own food frenzy.
Her first signing will be at Falmouth Memorial Library, 5 Lunt Road, on Tuesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. Young will also be signing at Nonesuch Books in the Mill Creek Shopping Center, South Portland, on Saturday, March 30, at 11 a.m.
For more information on Young, her book or book discussions in the area, visit her website www.heartnourishment.com.