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Book Reviews

Always Too Much and Never Enough. A Memoir by Jasmin Singer

Book Review:
Always Too Much and Never Enough - A Memoir

by Jasmin Singer
review by Marla Rose

Is there anything we have to do every day that is as emotionally rife as the act of feeding ourselves? Some people manage to get through life without there being a deep connection between emotions and food but for many, if not most, of us, food and how we feed ourselves is a rough terrain dotted with many, many landmines. For those of us with, as they say, “issues with food,” nothing is ever straightforward when it comes to eating: from the elation we feel when we’ve been virtuous with our diets to our plummeting self-worth when we are not, to the rollercoaster of guilt, anger, spitefulness, bliss, connection and even numbness we can feel on a daily basis with a fork or spoon as the vehicle for deliverance, food is a complicated and complex part of our everyday lives. Despite this, we have to learn to eat and feed ourselves if we want to stay alive.

Jasmin Singer, the spirited co-pilot of the Our Hen House vegan indy media hub, has just come out with a memoir centered around how she liberated herself from a paralyzing and painful relationship to food (and lost nearly 100 pounds in the process) with her new powerful book, Always Too Much and Never Enough: A Memoir. As a sensitive child who was always somewhat of an outcast, Jasmin did not adapt easily to the upheaval of her early years as her parents divorced and her mother remarried twice and from a young age, she began to turn to food, specifically fattening and sugar-laden junk food, for comfort, stability and numbing out. Even with a very loving and supportive mother who was Jasmin’s biggest fan and a very close connection to her grandparents, especially her dynamic grandmother, we follow along as Jasmin’s relationship to food grows more difficult and treacherous with each year. With each year, too, she grows larger, tamping down her feelings with each successive Oreo cookie. Not conforming to the body size standards of our society, it isn’t long before Jasmin is singled out and mercilessly bullied at school; this emotional abuse lays the groundwork for a relationship to the world that continues well into her adulthood.

I am not going to give away too much but you will find two photos of a fit, present-day Jasmin in the book. By using a process of mindfulness, introspection, education, and, most significantly, awakening to the power of juice as well as an unprocessed, whole foods diet when she began to care enough to want to be healthy, Jasmin has turned her life around and this memoir details her whole evolution, from chubby kid to yo-yo dieting teen to starving 20-something-year-old to obese vegan (yep, you read that right) and all points in between. Along the way, she examines her relationship to food, her emotions around having an enviably slim mother, her anger at a society that devalues those who don’t conform to conventional beauty standards, and what was under the all-consuming hunger, a hunger that so many of us understand, that she was never able to feed.

Jasmin writes with confidence and lucidity about the forces that drove her to overeat, from influences outside of her control, like the multi-billion dollar food industry and their ability to engineer cheap junk that is designed to make us crave more, to what was going on internally, like her inability to feel like she was measuring up to those around her. This is a emotionally difficult book at read at times and I found myself wincing in sympathy several times as she detailed scorn and abuse she endured as an overweight girl and young woman. Through it all, though, is an undergirding of humor, self-compassion and empathy. She is a deep thinker and, understanding that we all have our own path, she is not content to toss consumable, facile lessons to her readers. This is much more nutritious stuff. I also love that the vegan message is woven throughout the memoir through Jasmin’s own unfolding but it is never heavy-handed. The vegan theme is interspersed in an honest but graceful way. Jasmin’s passion and commitment to animal rights underpins the book but never threatens to consume it.

Always Too Much and Never Enough is a beautiful and thought-provoking book with a big, imperfect, vulnerable heart right in its center. Whether you struggle with how food and self-worth intersect or you’re lucky enough to have dodged that bullet, Jasmin’s storytelling will pull you in and make you a better person for having read it. I highly recommend Always Too Much and Never Enough.

2013-2016, Vegan Street

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