Cookies, cupcakes, and pies that might classify as “comfort foods” to the general population often become “fear foods” for those struggling with an eating disorder. Whether you restrict, binge, or engage in other disordered behaviors around these foods, a great deal of fear and shame can develop in response.
Cooking and baking can also be a way to exert control over food and be close to it while struggling with an eating disorder, without actually eating it.
In 2012, a young woman named Camilla Kuhns knew that her anorexia nervosa was closely tied to her ritualistic baking habits . Poetically, she ended up selling baked goods to raise money for her eating disorder treatment.
As you get back in touch with the joys of baking in recovery, you can work to challenge old food rules and disordered thoughts by creating new memories and building a positive relationship with food.
Baking Tips to Support Eating Disorder Recovery
If you are interested in baking for the first time in eating disorder recovery, it is a good idea to take certain measures to protect yourself throughout the process. Let yourself have fun baking while taking into consideration these important relapse prevention tips:
1. Bake with loved ones. Try connecting with a friend or family member and making a fun day or evening out of it. By diving into this experience with a loved one, it can become a social experience with built-in support in case you are triggered in any way.
2. Try a brand new recipe! Instead of making the same old sugar cookies you used to make when you were sick, consider trying a new recipe. If you previously used to make your baked good of choice for other people without letting yourself partake, baked it alone and then binged on it, or had other disordered behaviors surrounding it, that could be an instant trigger. This gives you an opportunity to explore new tastes while making new memories.
3. Have a plan. To avoid being triggered by an overabundance of baked goods after an afternoon of baking with a friend, have a plan for what you are going to do with the food. Set aside a certain amount that you are going to keep, and let your friend take the rest home with them, bring some over to your neighbor’s house, or take the leftovers to your local fire station.
You will get to the point where you can have baked goods in the house without being triggered, but give yourself time. Baking at all is the first step.
4. Check in with yourself. After baking, check in with yourself and/or a support person. Where is your head at? Did you have fun baking? Are you proud of yourself for letting yourself mindfully eat and fully enjoy the fruits of your labor? Or do you need some extra support right now?
About the Author: Courtney Howard is the Director of Operations & Business Development at Eating Disorder Hope. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from San Diego State University, holds a paralegal certificate in Family Law, and is a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate. After obtaining her certification as a life coach, Courtney launched Lionheart Eating Disorder Recovery Coaching in 2015 and continues to be a passionate advocate for awareness and recovery.
References:: Neporent, L. (2012, November 04). Anorexic Takes Up Baking to Gain Control Over Food. Retrieved June 30, 2017, from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/anorexic-baker-cooking-trouble/story?id=17629180
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on July 22, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 22, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com