Recovering from an eating disorder is difficult. And this is precisely why Francesca Baker, 29, has created a cookbook that aims to help people with eating disorders change their mindset towards food.
Baker, who is in recovery from an eating disorder herself, says the book, called ‘Eating & Living: Recipes for Recovery’, is by “those who have been there”.
The recipes not only offer ingredients lists and methods for balanced, wholesome meals, but they also offer inspirational stories from those in recovery.
Eating disorders aren’t necessarily about food, writes Baker in a blog post on The Huffington Post UK.
“They’re about distress, shame, low self esteem, fear, and a whole host of other difficult emotions which manifest themselves through food and weight.”
Her book features a collection of recipes that have been shared by people who are recovering or recovered, as well as carers, friends and family of sufferers, professionals and health experts.
The idea stemmed from conversations in an inpatient ward for severe eating disorders, where patients would talk about meals they loved and wished they felt able to eat again.
“We joked about how we should make a recipe book, what with all the food knowledge and meal ideas we had, as we told stories about those delicious foods we feared we had lost,” says Baker.
Importantly, her recipe book is not exclusively about food.
“We all know that great meals are so much more than a nice taste,” she says.
“Circumstances, company and memories all play a role. Losing the ability to engage with food in a ‘normal’ way cuts you off from all of these things, and it’s that which really hurts.
“Meals are meant to be an important and enjoyable part of a happy life. It can be hard to remember that.”
As a result, Baker asked people submitting recipes to not only include ingredients and methods, but to share a story or cherished memory as to why their particular recipe matters to them.
One of the contributors, Tabitha Farrar, tells of how she fought her fear of fat and found cheese on toast again.
Shani Raviv tells of how her Granny’s mac’n’cheese was rediscovered and allowed her and her grandmother to bond again.
Proceeds from the book, which costs £10, will go towards eating disorders charity Beat, which provides helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups to adults and young people in the UK.
“The book communicates the message that there is no such thing as a ‘good’ food, but that the old mantra ‘everything in moderation’ still rings true,” adds Baker.
“Recovery is hard. But to live, you must eat.”