A Food Lover's Journey from Obsession to Freedom

by Dayna Macy

Hay House, Inc., 2011. ISBN 978-1-401-92691-5.
Reviewed by Khadijah A.
Posted on 05/17/2012

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Food/Cooking/Kitchen

In Ravenous: A Food Lover's Journey from Obsession to Freedom, Dayna Macy shares her feelings with us—about food and how it has shaped her life from the time she was a little girl gorging on Halloween candy and Laughing Cow cheese. As she advances in age she increases in weight until, at age 48 and women's size 18, she decides she has to find a way to change her relationship with food.

Macy begins her journey by exploring her four favorite "binge" foods: sausage, cheese, chocolate (of course!), and olives. She does this by actually visiting places where these are produced, in some cases even taking part in the process. Unsatisfied with the results of these visits, she widens her scope, spending time with a Buddhist meditation teacher and cook, as well as learning how to forage for food and, at one point, watching the slaughter of cattle on a small farm that sells organic beef. Eventually, she does find a way to bring about change in her life. She loses weight, yes, but she also gains a connection to food and its many sources that seems to ground her and allow her to eat more consciously and mindfully, ultimately affecting her whole life.

I was intrigued by the premise of Ravenous before I ever picked it up. Having struggled for years with anorexia, I was surprised to realize that Macy's path to "freedom" was actually very similar to my own. Macy said once in an interview, when asked whether she was free of her obsession with food, "I'd say I'm freer, but I'm not fully free. I'm a work in progress." This is exactly how I see my relationship with food as well.

Another intriguing thing about Ravenous is the fact that it is, overall, a light-hearted and enjoyable read. Macy gives us glimpses of the darker aspects of her journey, but the book is not difficult to read on any level. Her optimism, honesty, and sense of humor overshadow this, showing the strength of her spirit throughout the book.

Ravenous is not a how-to book. It is an insightful, enjoyable look into how one person was able to confront her food demons and come out on the other side, on her personal road to freedom from obsession.

Read an excerpt from this book.

Dayna Macy's essays have appeared in Self, Salon, Yoga Journal, and other publications; and in several anthologies. For the last decade she has worked at Yoga Journal as Communications Director, and now also as the Managing Editor for International Editions. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, the writer Scott Rosenberg, and their two sons. Visit her website.

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