Book review: Full by Asheritah Ciuciu

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I am reviewing this book as part of the Moody Publishers review program. This means that I am sent a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. My goal is to provide an honest opinion from the perspective of a devout Catholic.

Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction was written by Asheritah Ciuciu and strives to promote “[a] healthier relationship with food through a stronger relationship with Christ.”

This is my first time reviewing a book for Moody Publishers, and when I was given a list of books that needed to be reviewed, this one caught my eye. Though I do not have food fixation as described in this book, I do think that my relationship with food can be a little weird due to my Type 1 Diabetes. On a bigger level, I think we as Americans have weird relationships with food so I wanted to read a book that could potentially be beneficial to a larger audience. This review will be a little longer than my other reviews because I am addressing both her success in accomplishing the goal of the book and how a Catholic would feel reading this book.

There were a lot of really good things about this book. It was broken up into four parts that built on each other as a person progressed through their food fixation journey. What I really appreciated was that she addressed food fixation on both ends of the spectrum: overeating/being controlled by unhealthy choices and being so obsessed with eating healthy that our food choices control us. Throughout the book, there are reflection questions so the book could be used in a group setting or as an individual. There were also notes from other people who struggled with food fixation, so in addition to Ciuciu’s powerful testimony, you were exposed to brief glimpses into other peoples’ stories. Ciuciu recognized that failure was a possibility and provided support for that in her book as well; this built on her honest tone which made her struggles and successes seem relatable. She provided some science in the beginning to support her points, and Scripture was definitely a focus. Generally speaking, I think the advice and encouragement she gave accomplished her goal of helping people grow closer to Christ, but there were some flaws to this book.

One of the minor things that got to me is that there wasn’t a distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes; she simply said diabetes when mentioning it as a consequence of unhealthy eating habits. To be fair, this is a problem in most literature about unhealthy eating habits, and while it certainly isn’t something that would cause me to not recommend a book, as a Type 1 Diabetic, I feel that it is important to call these things out.

The rest of my concerns with the book arise from a Catholic perspective while reading non-Catholic Christian literature. Obviously, there were points in the book that used very Protestant terminology. While it isn’t wrong, it could be a little odd for a Catholic reader. There were also three general topics that could’ve been dug into more deeply from a Catholic perspective. The most important is the Bread of Life. Obviously, a book about satisfying spiritual hunger feels incomplete without talking about the Eucharist. Having a godly entourage -that is, support from other Christians- is mentioned, but there is no mention of the cloud of witnesses we have at our disposal (Hebrews 12:1). She mentions regular confession, but it isn’t sacramental.  Again, none of these things are wrong, and they are in fact very, very important, but she is disregarding some incredible experiences and gifts we as Christians have at our disposal.

If these were the only aspects a Catholic would find unusual, I would be ok recommending this book to Catholic readers, however, there are two things cause me more pause. Her discussion on fasting could potentially cause problems for Catholics. I completely agree that our fasting doesn’t secure our salvation, but I disagree when she says that we should “[b]eware of anyone who teaches that fasting will make God more pleased with you.” Plain and simple, fasting (when done properly) is pleasing to God. Our good works do not secure our salvation, but we show our faith through the good works we do on Earth. More erroneous is the claim that “God created us as three-personed beings, with bodies, souls, and spirits..” While her point that we need to consider both the spiritual and the physical is important, we are not three-personed (CCC 362-367).

Overall, I think this book does a good job addressing the topic of seeking Christ when we are longing for satisfaction. I felt that the last section of the book started to drag a little, but in general, the book was honest, encouraging, and practical. I believe it could be a useful resource, but the lack of depth and errors make my recommendation less enthusiastic. If you struggle with food fixation, I would recommend this book, but with the warning that you should know there are some things that are wrong in it and encouragement to explore some components at a deeper depth as I mentioned above.

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