Eve Simmons and Laura Dennison, the duo behind the website Not Plant Based have released their first book “How to Feel the Fear and Eat it Anyway” – a guide to help you rid your anxieties around food.
Anyone who has ever felt the need to restrict their food or go on a diet would benefit from reading this. They want you to reconnect to eating with ease and happiness. To stamp out unnecessary guilt, that many have associated with eating.
Some sections of the book come with an additional caveat for Eating Disorder (ED) sufferers. Offering trigger warnings and advice for particularly sensitive topics. This constant nurturing offered by them shows the depth of their understanding around food anxiety, ED’s and the complexities of recovery.
Both Eve and Laura share their personal experiences with ED’s and their journeys through recovery. They recount experiences and rituals that accompanied their illnesses with brutal honesty.
By shining a light onto them, they alleviate shame and offer comfort. It’s this sharing that makes you feel like you are sitting down to have a cuppa with a really good friend every time you pick up the book. A safe space is created by being consistently mindful that some details they share could be triggering. This recognition emits a true sense of recovery which is both heartwarming and encouraging.
I found the following section particularly moving. Laura recalls in detail a fond and carefree time when she and her boyfriend frequently ate out. How it formed a special period of their relationship. So much more than simply eating out, it was about romance, adventure and experimenting. But when her ED hit she lost that joy and it hasn’t returned;
“To this day, that euphoric sense of food freedom and bewildering excitement is yet to return. I pick what I fancy, but I’m not salivating at the thought of my incoming pudding. Nor can I ever quite pluck up the courage to order something totally obscure, on the off chance that I might like it. These days, it’s just not worth the risk. To those who relate to the screaming sense of enchantment that food choices illicit, I beg you: harness it, cherish it and choose unwisely – with your eyes, stomach and whichever part of your body is intrigued by what garlic-basted snails may taste like.”
To acknowledge and share you have lost such positive and happy experiences as a result of your ED is remarkably courageous. It highlights the power of our food choices and what a privilege it is to experience the unadulterated joy she spoke of.
And if an ED, or any form of food anxiety, has stifled this sensation, suggestions are offered by taking recommendations from chefs and cooks (NB NOT Instagram wellness bloggers!) to encourage and guide you through ordering at restaurants. I was astounded by this incredible talent to talk both to ED sufferers and non sufferers. One of the many aspects that makes this book a delicate and helpful read.
Personally, I found the meal recommendations for those who just cannot be bothered to cook particularity helpful. Based on ease and cheapness it appealed to the lazy shit in me. I’m talking beans on toast, microwaved jacket potatoes and pesto pasta. Yes it might seem obvious, but who doesn’t need reminding of the beauty and simplicity in these classics? They have a place in modern day life. Letting go of the need to make every meal nutritionally complete, without over thinking our food choices is a vital component of ED recovery and the following excerpt from the book articulates it beautifully;
“The point is that food, for much of history, has never been just food. The objective of eating is never simply to fill a nutritional hole. Eating does not exist in isolation and every diet expert worth their salt will incorporate the messiness of life into any proposed understanding about the way in which we eat.”