Refinery29 Accuses Author of Claiming to Cure Bulimia

Posted by on Feb 4, 2015

For the last few weeks I have been writing for the Media Response Team. A dozen or so 20-somethings (and some younger) keep an eye out for images, articles, and anything else that sustains the thin ideal, unrealistic body image, fat (or thin) shaming, and so on and so forth.

My editor recently alerted us to a recent book review put out by the website Refinery29 about a forthcoming book called Chasing Hunger. According to Refinery29 writer Kelsey Miller, the book is “so outrageous and offensive that it’s almost laughable. Almost.”

And indeed — what Miller recounted was pretty outrageous. According to the review, the book’s author, Vancouver therapist Kathy Welter-Nichols, claims to have landed upon a cure for bulimia nervosa. Moreover, anyone can enact this cure in just 90 days.

A Cure for Bulimia?

If you know eating disorders, you know that talk of “cures” is simultaneously ridiculous and dangerous.

But as I read on, it all began to seem a little too outrageous. So, in keeping with my journalistic roots, I decided that I needed to go straight to the source. I emailed Welter-Nichols to ask for an interview, and she responded within a day inviting me to ask any questions I had.

Chasing Hunger offers cure for bulimia?

I came right out and asked about her credentials, her treatment philosophy, and why she promoted the idea of a cure for an eating disorder. Lo and behold, she refuted every one of the “outrageous” claims which Refinery29 attributed to her — and she hadn’t even seen the book review! When I did alert her to the review and told her that that was how her book had crossed my radar, she was horrified. In fact, she agreed with Miller — the idea of a cure for bulimia is, indeed, outrageous!

I was a little shocked at the outcome of the interview. Perhaps it is my being on this side of 30, but I still held onto the belief that writers and reporters do research before penning articles, if not actually reach out to their sources. Granted, I have not read Chasing Hunger, and my knowledge of Welter-Nichol’s treatment philosophy comes only from what she told me directly. (Interestingly, after hearing about her method, I can say that I’m fairly sure that it wouldn’t have worked for my own eating disorder treatment — in part because Welter-Nichols does not treat anorexia).

However, it made me pretty angry to think that one poorly-researched review could decimate a person’s life work before it even hit the shelves. That’s just not right.

So please check out my post for Proud2BMe, which talks more about Chasing Hunger and where Refinery29 got it wrong. And in case it wasn’t obvious from the above, I repeat: this book does not offer a cure for an eating disorder. Welter-Nichols doesn’t even claim to be able to treat all eating disorder patients. Her method is one among many treatment models — although, in my humble, non-professional opinion, it’s an interesting method and it holds promise.

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