brightcove.createExperiences(); While Francesca Baker was at an inpatient facility to get help with her eating disorder, food was often a topic of conversation.
“Patients suffering from eating disorders often wished they felt comfortable eating certain foods and missed the connection with friends and family,” Baker, 29, tells PEOPLE. “We laughed how we spoke so much of food, and knew so many meals that we should make a recipe book. It was an idea that a few months later I picked up and ran with.”
Baker created Eating & Living: Recipes for Recovery as a guide for eating disorder victims to reintegrate food into their lives in a healthy way.
“The necessity of shopping, planning, cooking and eating that comes with turning eating from a disordered experience to one more ordinary is crucial, and the book aims to play a role in helping individuals conquer those obstacles,” she says.
Her own experiences with her eating disorder helped shape the book’s content.
“It taught me that while the cause of [eating disorders] is not food or weight, addressing those issues is crucial to recovery,” says Baker. “It can be really, really tough to make the right decisions for your body when battling the negative voices of an eating disorder, and sometimes people need extra prompts or support, some guidance, and I hope the book offers that.”
To create the book, Baker reached out to other people with eating disorders and those that know and work with them to curate the recipes she featured.
“It’s a mix of those in recovery, those recovered, professionals in the sphere and people who have seen others in the journey,” she says. “It’s been great to get support from people all around the world who have reached out and shared their recipes.”
Baker features personal stories about the contributor’s own experiences with food alongside each recipe.
“Hearing how people have been in some dark and difficult places but overcome them is always inspiring,” she says. “It’s also a good reminder that food, as anxiety-provoking as it can be at times, is ultimately an enjoyable part of life that not only fuels the body, but fosters connection.”
“I love hearing about meals that evoke memories of childhood, those tried for the first time in recovery, those lost for a while but rediscovered, and think that recognizing the social and emotional value of food is a good thing,” she continues.
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While the book is aimed at those recovering from eating disorders, Baker says anyone will enjoy the recipes.
“The meals are all balanced and tasty, and can be eaten and shared with everyone,” she says. “I don’t want it to be that people with eating disorders have to have special food or something different – the idea is ‘normality.’ “