By: Judy Collins
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publication Date: 2/28/207
My Rating: 5 Stars + Biographies & Memoirs Top Books of 2017 No-holds-barred account of folk legend Judy Collins's harrowing struggle with compulsive overeating and of the journey that led her to a solution. Since childhood Judy Collins has had a tumultuous, fraught relationship with food. Her issues with overeating nearly claimed her career and her life. For decades she thought she simply lacked self-discipline. She tried nearly every diet plan that exists, often turning to alcohol to dull the pain of yet another failed attempt to control her seemingly insatiable "cravings."
Today, Judy knows she suffers from an addiction to sugar and grains, flour and wheat. She adheres to a strict diet of unprocessed foods, consumed in carefully measured portions. This solution has allowed her to maintain a healthy weight for years, to enjoy the glow of good health, and to attain peace of mind.
Alternating between chapters on her life and those of the many diet gurus she has encountered along the way (Atkins, Jean Nidetch of Weight Watchers, Andrew Weil, to name a few), Cravings is the culmination of Judy's genuine desire to share what she's learned—so that no one has follow her heart-rending path to recovery.
Iconic singer, (folk legend) songwriter, and author, Judy Collins delivers her most timely and critical memoir yet CRAVINGS: How I Conquered Food — courageously told, a personal harrowing struggle with painful addictions and her battle food: bingeing, bulimia, weight loss, and gain. One of hope, recovery, renewal, and inspiration. CRAVINGS is the author's heartfelt honest story of finally "filling the black hole" in her soul that comes from untreated food addiction. Sixty years of experience, struggling to find a solution. Compulsive eating. How she "slayed her demons" and conquered food addiction. Insightful and informative, the musical star shares her personal story with others, to help them find a way to break free. Folk singer Judy Collins' tumultuous relationship with food began when she was a child, and led her into a downward spiral of bingeing, purging, and alcoholism that followed her for much of her life. "In music, Judy found spiritual solace. In her addictions, she lived in a spiritual desert and had to find water and sustenance, the spark of inspiration and some solution that would end the drama of diets, pills, plans, doctors, extreme answers and mutilating consequences. . . " Her proven plan has been a success offering joy and continued health. She is sharing her discovery with others. To help others out there seeking answers to their own food disorders. A new life, "free" of cravings. It wasn't until she met her now-husband, Louis Nelson, in the 1970s that she decided to get sober and recover from bulimia. Collins, now 77, hopes her upcoming book, will help others resolve their own addictions Her solution is a balanced food plan "free of the foods" that cause the addictions: Sugar, grains, flour, wheat, corn, and many foods which she is allergic to (containing alcohol). The foods which cause bulimic, anorexic, or overweight disorders; causing feelings of fear and self-loathing; diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, among many others. (It works. Trying removing all these items for your diet, and you will remove the cravings.) Collins highlights her life from childhood through her music career and her battle with alcoholism. Her personal and business relationships. Her family and the many people she has met along the way and influences in her life. Diet Gurus and others in her fight. Her ups and downs. She has spoken out previously and references here, regarding her alcoholism and the suicide of her only child, and the survivor of her own attempt to end her life at age fourteen. With CRAVINGS the author wants to encourage others who suffer from the same problems—there is a way "through the dark" night of the soul of compulsive overeating. The folk star has been sober for thirty-eight years from alcohol; however, has had to learn to eat in a different but healthy way. Someone who was controlled and obsessed by food. From fasting, compulsive exercise, restricting food, bone loss, purging, bulimia and an array of dieting. As we learn from Judy’s personal story and account, this horrible addiction begins at childhood. With our children and grandchildren today — being subjected to large amounts of sugar, processed foods, chemical, additives, and preservatives— (as well as adults) trouble lies ahead which will carry into teens and adulthood in many ways, if not identified and corrected. We all have to take control. She like many of us, have become an advocate for healthy foods, speaking out against the big food companies which make money with added corn, fat, sugar, salt, and additives. Judy steps out to share her tragedies, even from an early age of three, nothing made her happier than to devour sugar in any form. Sugar fueled her race through life, as does many others today. It was the beginning of her dance with the devil. From depression, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, sadness, nightmares, anxiety attacks, and blackouts. She spent most of her life deep into her addictions, trickling over into other areas of her life. She explains how alcohol addiction is sometimes twinned with sugar addiction.
“My mind is clear, my heart is light, my health is perfect, she writes. . . I surrendered to it and never looked back." Collins has been sober now for 39 years and recovered from bulimia for more than 33 years. "We are all in the same lifeboat, but the rescue ship is in the harbor, and we can all come aboard," she writes, hoping that readers will be inspired by her story to resolve their own addictions.
In summary: Teaching people about addiction and opening up a forum is part of Collins’ goal with Cravings.
After reading her latest book, have even more respect for her incredible journey. She is a timeless legend. Compelling and absorbing, readers will be moved by her inspiring journey and hopefully educated about food addictions— and make the necessary changes needed. Highly recommend! A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an early reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * On a side "food/health"note: As many of you know, I am a food advocate. Having severe food allergies, and after keeping years of food journals, about ten years ago, went to a totally vegan diet. I found additives, preservatives, and chemicals to be causing my health problems, plus all the items Judy has listed in the book. I do not drink alcohol or eat sugar, or processed foods. I do not take any medications, nor do I eat grains, sugar, flour, corn, etc. The slightest addictive or chemical, I go into anaphylaxis or experience heart issues. Plus without them, you maintain your health, weight, and your size 4. The exact foods Judy outlines are some of the main factors which cause these problems. When you eliminate these things from your diet, these health problems go away. Yes, it takes planning, no you cannot dine out and a little more difficult when traveling; however, it is worth it in the end. Our society today is lazy and will not take the time and effort to stay away from these foods and take a bolder stand. If they did, our food industry may be different, today. I totally agree with the addiction. I see my son and his family. Always dieting, exercising, and health issues at a young age and grandchildren. They crave the sugar. One thing leads to another. When I visit, I tell them they must throw out everything in their pantry and refrigerator. I cringe. I refuse to eat any of these items and until they take their health seriously, they keep doing the same things and expecting different results, as many others. On a side note "about the name": Fun to see my name on a book cover. We all love "The Judy Collins!" (After all, I have her name). I was born Judy Dianne Collins (my parents love her, as well). The name Judy was very popular in the 50s. If you grew up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, you have to be a fan of Grammy-winning folk-music legend Judy Collins, known for her iconic renditions of "Amazing Grace", "Send in the Clowns" and “From "Both Sides, Now." After my divorce, I legally took back my maiden name, Judy Collins in the early 80s, and have been referenced to the “Queen of Folk” throughout my career with the same name. Especially when in the media, advertising, and publishing business in Atlanta— always a reference to “The Judy Collins,” and her songs. Proud to bear her name! However, when it was time to find a domain for my website and blog, and social media, of course, that spot was taken by the "queen" herself, so I had to avert to Judith D Collins. Have listened to her music for years, enjoyed her concerts, her record albums, and her books — still a huge fan of her music. An inspiration to many. Exciting, to see she still is "full throttle" ahead at age 77 with Judy Collins and Ari Hest: Silver Skies Blue Album. Nice!
Do not see retirement in her future (ever).
Praise for Cravings
“Collins's radiant memoir shines a light on her almost deadly struggles while vividly celebrating her new life free from cravings and sharing hope with everyone who suffers from food addiction." —Publishers Weekly, starred review “Judy Collins has looked at life from both sides: as an incredibly successful singer and as a person tormented by addiction—to alcohol, substances, and, worst of all, food. In Cravings her candid recounting of her long and ultimately successful struggle, and of the insights she gained from various diet gurus, will give comfort and guidance to the many people trying to improve their relationships with food.” —Andrew Weil, author of 8 Weeks to Optimum Health and Eating Well for Optimum Health “Cravings is a detailed history of recovery and the power of the life force. It’s not only the story of addiction and recovery in our culture but also an inspiring autobiography of one passionate individual finding a way of living that radiates health. Judy Collins is a beacon of hope for us all.” —Erica Jong, author of Fear of Flying “Judy Collins has enjoyed many triumphs in her long and glorious career as a singer, but this memoir tells the tale of a deeper and darker—and in many ways more difficult—triumph over the twin demons of alcoholism and food disorders. Brave in its candor and clear-sighted in its solutions, full of heartbreak but also tremendously uplifting, Cravings spotlights a path of spiritual and physical renewal for everyone.” —Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton "Blessed with an angelic voice and a shining public persona, Judy Collins fought private demons that made her privileged life a living hell. In Cravings, she rips the veil from her darkest secrets, revealing her decades-long struggle with deadly eating disorders. Detailing her personal journey, she points the way to sanity and health." —Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way
A compelling read for fans of Collins and/or those confronting their own addictive behavior.
Collins' many fans, and everyone touched by or concerned about addiction, will be moved by her inspiring story
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About the Author
Judy Collins has inspired audiences with sublime vocals, boldly vulnerable personal life triumphs, and a firm commitment to social activism. In the 1960s, she evoked both the idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices. Five decades later, her luminescent presence shines brightly as new generations bask in the glow of her iconic 50-album body of work, and heed inspiration from her spiritual discipline to thrive in the music industry for half a century.
The award-winning singer-songwriter is esteemed for her imaginative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own poetically poignant original compositions. Her stunning rendition of Joni Mitchell's “Both Sides Now” from her landmark 1967 album, Wildflowers, has been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Judy's dreamy and sweetly intimate version of “Send in the Clowns”, a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the Broadway musical A Little Night Music, won “Song of the Year” at the 1975 Grammy Awards. She's garnered several top-ten hits gold- and platinum-selling albums. Recently, contemporary and classic artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen honored her legacy with the album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins.
Judy began her impressive music career at 13 as a piano prodigy dazzling audiences performing Mozart's “Concerto for Two Pianos”, but the hardluck tales and rugged sensitivity of folk revival music by artists such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger seduced her away from a life as a concert pianist. Her path pointed to a lifelong love affair with the guitar and pursuit of emotional truth in lyrics. The focus and regimented practice of classical music, however, would be a source of strength to her inner core as she navigated the highs and lows of the music business.
In 1961, she released her masterful debut, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, which featured interpretative works of social poets of the time such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Tom Paxton. This began a wonderfully fertile thirty-five year creative relationship with Jac Holzman and Elektra Records. Around this time Judy became a tastemaker within the thriving Greenwich Village folk community, and brought other singer-songwriters to a wider audience, including poet/musician Leonard Cohen â€“ and musicians Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman. Throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and up to the present, she has remained a vital artist, enriching her catalog with critically acclaimed albums while balancing a robust touring schedule.
On September 18, 2015, Judy will release her first studio album in four years, Strangers Again. She invited a cast of icons and young talents to sing with her on this fresh collection, from Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne and Jeff Bridges to Glen Hansard, Ari Hest and Bhi Bhiman. Judy delicately soars over a revitalized “Send In The Clowns” and breathes new life into “Hallelujah.” She puts her indelible touch on songs by Leonard Bernstein, Randy Newman, James Taylor and more.
In 2012 she released the CD/DVD Judy Collins Live At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art which aired on PBS. This special television program was nominated for a New York Emmy and won a Bronze Medal at the 2013 New York Festival International Television & Film Awards. Based on it's success, in 2014 she filmed another spectacular show in Ireland at Dromoland Castle.Live In Ireland was released in 2014. This program also won a Bronze Medal at the 2014 New York Festival International Television & Film Awards and the program will broadcast on PBS in 2014 and 2015.
Judy has also authored several books, including the powerful and inspiring,Sanity Grace. For her most recent title, the memoirSweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music, she reaches deeply inside and, with unflinching candor, recalls her turbulent childhood, extraordinary rise to fame, her romance with Stephen Stills, her epic victories over depression and alcoholism, and her redemption through embracing a healthy and stable lifestyle and finding true love with Louis Nelson, her partner of 30 years. In addition, she remains a social activist, representing UNICEF and numerous other causes. She is the director (along with Jill Godmillow) of an Academy Award-nominated film about Antonia Brico ‐ PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN, the first woman to conduct major symphonies around the world ‐ and Judy's classical piano teacher when she was young.
Judy Collins is as creatively vigorous as ever, writing, touring worldwide, and nurturing fresh talent. She is a modern day Renaissance woman who is also an accomplished filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor, and an in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. She continues to create music of hope and healing that lights up the world and speaks to the heart. Read More