The Longest Match - Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife
By Betsy Brenner
Reviewed for IFEED by Janice Baker MBA RDN CDCES CNSC BC-ADM
The Longest Match is a heartwarming and intimate memoir reflecting on the author’s experiences from youth to midlife, describing the influences – both internal and external- that set the groundwork of disordered eating and eating disorders, and how this illness, especially combined with other stressors and life events can be so exhausting and consuming.
Being in my later midlife years and having lived through decades of diet culture influences, family turbulence and illness (both physical and mental), I looked forward to picking up this book daily to read, as it felt like I was connecting with a friend who had similar life experiences. Keeping parents happy, feeling like I had to “perform” and look/ act a certain way to gain acceptance from peers and be valued for body shape, size, hair style- i.e. fitting into the “mold”, not to mention being entrenched as a young dietitian in the early 1980s in the upcoming tsunami of the diet world, The Longest Match brought up memories that, though I did not have a diagnosed eating disorder, did parallel my career and a significant part of how I viewed food, eating, body image and how I likely transferred this to my patients.
In my 38 years of practice as an RDN, this is a book that would have been a welcome addition to my undergraduate or dietetic internship curriculum and would have been a great influence in how I have practiced. However, since research and awareness of eating disorders were very sparse and under recognized, I’ve been reading and learning from respected authors, colleagues and professionals in this area for the past 20+ years. The Longest Match is a valuable addition to my library on this topic. As I work with many in mid-life (men and women) with decades of disordered eating and misdiagnoses (GI, other issues likely related to food restriction and rules), it is valuable to have books to discuss and recommend to my patients and clients to help them understand that they are not alone in their struggles and that there is hope for a full recovery.
Betsy Brenner’s honesty and experiences in so many parts of her life including family history, passions, education, career and recovery journey helped me and will certainly help others reflect on these influences and the concept of “being in control” when we are actually often not so much “in control”, and give us encouragement to seek help without shame or guilt.
The Longest Match is well organized. It is physically small and compact enough that I can have this by my side to pick up at any time. The tone of the book is warm and intriguing. This could be an excellent educational addition to an undergraduate college program or dietetic internship in health sciences including nutrition science & dietetics, nursing, kinesiology and exercise science, and physiology. I will be recommending The Longest Match to the faculty and internship coordinators at my alma mater, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where I have been a guest speaker for the nutrition science department for several years.
I highly recommend The Longest Match. Once I started reading, it was hard to put down, as I found it engaging and helpful. As an RDN, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, and Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management, my patients often have complex medical issues in the setting of disordered eating and eating disorders, who are confused by layers of nutrition and health misinformation from a variety of sources. As I work on my goal of becoming a CEDRD (always a student!), this book helps me to continue to appreciate the struggles of eating issues throughout life stages and support my clients with compassion and respect.
Reposted with permission.