Emma Bacon, author of Rebalance Your Relationship with Food and co-author of Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook, is the founder of BalancED MK, an eating disorder support service, which she set up after her own recovery from anorexia nervosa. She also offers mentoring and facilitates a self-support group for sufferers and carers, with the aim of spreading awareness and understanding about eating disorders. We caught up with her and asked her a few questions about her book, her inspiration and what keeps her motivated.
What inspired you to write ‘Rebalance Your Relationship with Food’?
I provide support to people affected by disordered eating and body image issues, through the provision of self-help groups and one to one recovery coaching. I knew that a cook book specifically designed to encourage a regular eating pattern would benefit the people I work with. Instead of joining the long list of ‘clean eating’ cook books, I wanted to create something that advocated ‘everything in moderation, including moderation itself’. Having recovered from an eating disorder, I also hoped that my position would reassure confidence in the recipes.
What do you think are the main challenges of building a healthy relationship with food?
Everybody’s thoughts about food are affected by culture, relationships, social occasions, education and emotion. Also, human beings are creatures of habit, meaning that we can find ourselves following an unhelpful eating pattern that is hard to change. It is therefore important to find motivation to improve our relationship with food long-term. Rather than following unrealistic diets, we should instead focus on making small, sustainable changes that involve cooking fresh food which is good for both our body and mind.
How is your book different from other cookbooks?
‘Rebalance Your Relationship with Food’ has been specifically designed to support anyone affected by disordered eating. Each recipe page includes simple instructions, a photo demonstrating a healthy portion size, positive messages about natural ingredients, and a quote from someone in recovery. There is no mention of calories. Instead, the book encourages the reader to eat and enjoy wholesome, natural food, whilst also taking good care of their emotional wellbeing. There is even a self-help section at the back of the book, which includes a ‘Wellness Assessment’, considering aspects such as eating habits, physical health, psychological health, coping strategies and relationships. The book has a holistic approach to wellness.
What is your favourite recipe?
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. Therefore, I love pancakes with yoghurt and berries, or avocado and poached egg on toast. Having said that, I also love mango and feta salad and the lentil stuffed peppers on page 176. Bliss balls and bis-cakes are also delicious. I can’t decide. I like too many things to choose just one!
What inspired you (and Dr Nicola Davies) to write the ‘Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook’?
I have run a self-help group for people affected by disordered eating for over ten years now. The group discusses recovery focused topics that encourage self-reflection, pro-active coping strategies and a positive mindset. Nicola and I wanted to capture what we had learnt from the group and share this knowledge with as many people as possible.
In your opinion, what encourages long-term recovery from an eating disorder?
Honest communication, self-compassion, determination and acceptance. My recovery taught me how to respect my natural personality type, accept my past experiences as personal growth, and appreciate the importance of managing balance in life. I try to live authentically, knowing that I may not be perfect, but I am perfectly me!
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