Book Reviews

An Anxious Kind of Mind & Food as Medicine

A True Story of Rising Above Anxiety Disorders & Cooking for Your Best Health.

Gerald A. Klingbeil & Stephen Chavez
An Anxious Kind of Mind & Food as Medicine

An Anxious Kind of Mind: A True Story of Rising Above Anxiety Disorders, by Randy Fishell (SBC Books, 2017), 281 pages, $14.99 (paperback); $2.99 (Kindle edition). Available at Reviewed by Gerald A. Klingbeil, Adventist Review.

Randy Fishell is a household name in Adventism in North America, especially for the junior-age set. As a former editor of Guide magazine he has influenced and shaped thousands of young Adventists who enjoyed his engaging, creative, and always surprising writing style in that magazine.

This volume, directed at adults and sharing his true story of facing an anxiety disorder, will not disappoint readers. Written in a conversational, extremely readable, but at the same time authentic autobiographic style, it tackles a topic that is often taboo in Christian (and Adventist) circles.  Adventists often struggle with stories about dysfunctions; we love stories that emphasize triumph and healing and transformation, and often secretly wonder why Jesus focused so much on those who are downtrodden, weary, sick, and dysfunctional.

Fishell tells his own compelling story of learning how to live with anxiety disorders (including obsessive-compulsive disorders [OCD], panic attacks, agoraphobia, etc.). His journey starts on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, when, as a young man visiting a young woman in Wisconsin, he suddenly faced a paralyzing panic attack that left him stranded on the South Side of Chicago.

Most readers will not put down the book as they share a number of significant moments in Fishell’s life journey. It’s an arresting read. It’s also a disturbing read in its, at times, casual and humorous descriptions of fears and angst that seem to be all too familiar. Readers will cheer when they come to the place where a doctor finally utters the words that nobody, and especially not Fishell, could have anticipated: “I think I can help you!” (p. 225).

The way to recovery, however, is never straight, starting with Fishell’s reluctance to actually take the prescribed SSRI medication (for those outside the medical fraternity that is “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors”). Yet once he accepted the fact that help (including medication and counseling) was needed, healing could begin.

I found Fishell’s book compelling and enlightening. I plan to keep it on my short list of recommended reading for friends, colleagues, and church members who struggle with similar disorders. Kudos to someone who is willing to share his vulnerabilities and pain so that others can be blessed and find healing too. And doing it in an engaging and at times even fun way surely represents the extra blessing.

Food as Medicine

Food as Medicine: Cooking for Your Best Health, by Sue Radd, Signs Publishing, Warburton, New South Wales, Australia, 2016., 396 pages. Hardcover, A$40. Reviewed by Stephen Chavez, Adventist Review.

Food as Medicine is an imposing book. Not just because of its size (11.5 inches x 9.25 inches and weighing nearly five pounds), or because of its nearly 400 pages, or because of full-page photographs of many of the various recipes described, but because of the comprehensive way good health is directly related to a healthful diet. In the words of the author: “To live well, you need to eat well.”

Readers will find it nearly impossible to turn the pages of this book without coming across a recipe just begging to be tried. The stunning photographs and simplicity of the recipes promise tasty, nutritious entrees, salads, side dishes, and desserts, suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The mere look of all these recipes is a marketing triumph for those who prefer a vegan diet. The recipes also suggest substitutions to add variety to any dish.

The book ends with nearly 80 pages of solid, science-based instruction about how our diets contribute to our physical and emotional health, as well as to the health of the planet. The articles address topics currently being discussed in the general population: supplements, processed foods, animal protein, antioxidants, dairy products, sustainable agriculture, alcohol, organic foods, etc. Also included are raw food swaps for butter, chocolate, meat, milk, and cream. It also features a seasonal menu planning guide.

The book’s author, Sue Radd, is one of Australia’s leading nutritionists and health communicators. In 2017 Gourmand International honored Food as Medicine as the best cookbook in the world.

The one downside to the book is buying it. A title search on yielded 20 results on the first page, some with the exact same title, and some with variations on the title, but none that brought up this particular book. Putting “Sue Radd” in the search box brought up a cover photo of her book—printed in German.

The best way to get a copy of Food as Medicine is to go to the Amazon Australia Web site: It’s worth the effort.

Don’t be afraid of the imposing size and comprehensive content of Food as Medicine. It is a wonderfully practical book that will provide you and your family with an endless variety of simple, healthful meals well into the future.

Gerald A. Klingbeil & Stephen Chavez