Thursday, 27 April 2017

An interview with Emma Bacon - Rebalance your relationship with food

Meet Emma Bacon, the author of Rebalance your relationship with food, and founder of an Eating Disorder Service, called BalancED MK which she set up in 2007. 

As this is such a sensitive subject and a topic I really care about, I have created an introduction video - Yes my first ever! Click on the image below to view and for those of you that get this post by email, you may have to click here to view.

Who is Emma, where are you based, and what do you do?

First and foremost, I’m a mum of two super kids. We live in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, with our dog, rabbit, two pet pygmy goats…and last but not least, my wonderful husband. I run an eating disorder support service, called BalancED MK, which I set up following my own recovery from anorexia. I am also a Personal Trainer and Martial Arts Instructor (teaching Jado Kuin Do) to kids and adults in my local community. Last year, I wrote two books linked to disordered eating and began offering one to one recovery coaching to individuals striving to find balance in their life. 

What has been your journey so far?

I grew up in a large, loving family of five children and numerous animals. My childhood was full of love but also had some challenges. I was quite a sensitive person and didn’t really feel that I fit in, turning to my horse on loan for company instead. I struggled with feeling low, and began to use food as a way of expressing or repressing my feelings when I was about 17 years old. As is often the case, this situation spiralled out of control and I actually took an overdose when I was just 18. Luckily, I survived to live another day and began to rebuild my life. Sadly, I relapsed when I was in my early twenties and subsequently sought specialised one to one and group support to help me get better. Some years later, I decided that I’d like to help other people affected by an eating disorder, so set up BalancED MK in 2007. Since then, I’ve done various training courses to compliment the lessons I’ve learnt from experience and try my best to turn a bad situation into something good. 

What is a typical day in the life of Emma?

I mostly work from home, so I’m able to take my kids to school each morning. I then walk my dog, do some admin, meet with someone for recovery coaching or personal training, do the school run again and finish off with teaching martial arts. Sometimes I give talks about eating disorders at events, organisations or schools too. My life is very varied, which I enjoy. 

Tell us about your book ‘Rebalance your relationship with food

I provide one to one coaching to people that benefit from having an experienced mentor supporting them through recovery. I was looking for a recipe book that would help them to rebuild a healthy relationship with food, but couldn’t find anything very appropriate, so I decided to make one myself! I used my personal experience of recovery, combined with my professional knowledge and feedback from self-help group attendees to create my book

Why a recipe book? 

I wanted to create a recipe book specifically designed for people affected by disordered eating or body image issues, but realised that the recipes were all based on balanced eating so would be relevant to almost anyone. So I put together a book that gave examples of simple, nutritious meals, set out in a way that wasn’t overwhelming. I didn’t include any reference to calories or fat, but instead noted the positive benefits of key ingredients, helping to justify and encourage the reader to try new things. I wanted to help people to establish a positive eating pattern, based on the theory ‘everything in moderation, including moderation itself’. I hope the book sets a good example of balance. I also included quotes from people in recovery, inspiring and empowering others.

What’s your favourite recipe?

Too difficult to choose. I love the healthy pancake recipe in the breakfast section! Some other favourites include mackerel pate, salmon and spinach frittata, rainbow salad with houmous, sweet potato and chickpea stew, lentil stuffed peppers, pizza/pasta sauce, bliss balls, pecan bis-cakes and rejuvenating chocolate cake! I’ve developed some new favourites too, which I often share on my Instagram account rebalancing_me.

If someone feels that they know somebody who may benefit from having this book, how should they approach giving it to them?

This would depend on the person. The recipes are examples of balanced meals suitable for anyone, with or without an eating disorder, so a loved one could buy the book themselves, making it available to the person directly affected. Alternatively, someone might be more likely to trust and use the book after reading a little about my story and seeing written endorsements on my website

The work you do covers a very serious life issue, that many families struggle to understand if someone they love so much is doing so much harm to themselves, what is the best first step?

Appreciating that there is an issue to challenge in the first place is a huge step towards recovery. Calm support from friends and family will also make a big difference, but it’s important to establish a wide network of support so that no one person feels overly responsible for someone’s recovery. Specialised professional support, from a counsellor, recovery coach, self-help group or eating disorder team can often play an important role in recovery. It may also be necessary to involve a GP, to monitor any physical complications needing attention. There’s no need for anyone to struggle alone because there are people wanting to understand and support people wanting to recover, even if they’re not sure how to go about it. 

What other support is there for people with an eating disorder?

There are various organisations dedicated to eating disorder research and recovery, in addition to the specialised help available through the NHS (accessed via a GP). Self-help materials have been shown to play an important role in recovery too. For example, I have published a second book, called the ‘Eating Disorder Recovery Handbook: A Practical Guide for Long-term Recovery’ by Dr Nicola Davies and Emma Bacon. This book is based on the topics we discuss at the self-help group, aiding recovery from any form of disordered eating. See for further information. 

I like how you say you are not perfect, you are “perfectly me” – what tips can you offer to get us to understand it’s ok not to be perfect?

Learning self-compassion has been key to my recovery and ongoing happiness. Self-compassion is a skill that has to be learnt and practiced on a daily basis, but worth all the effort. It’s important to invest some time and attention on your emotional wellbeing. Self-care is not selfish, it’s responsible and necessary to live a happy life. I accept that if I’m trying my best, with what I have, in each particular moment, that that is more than good enough. I think that trying your best is something to be proud of, even if it’s not perfect. 

How do you relax from work?

I love yoga, cooking lunch for my friends, walking my goats on a Sunday afternoon and chilling out on the sofa with my husband. The simple things in life make me happy. Having said that, I also love to travel as and when my work allows me the time. We’re planning a four week trip around Europe with the kids this summer – I’m very much looking forward to that!

What three things could you not live without?

  • My family. 
  • My best friends. 
  • Eggs and avocado!!! 

And finally - what's your favourite indulgence?

I absolutely love a bowl of yoghurt, nuts, seeds and honey, mixed with some maca powder (which makes it take like meringue!). I also enjoy going out for a meal at a good Thai or Indian restaurant. 

If you want to know more about how you can get help or provide support to a family member or friend, then visit Emma's websites, all her contact details are below:

Emma's website Rebalancing Me
Emma on Twitter
Emma on Instagram
BalancED MK

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

My five tips for when you visit House Style at Chatsworth House

"I fear I've done some things in life too late and others too early."  
Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806)

I think nearly every woman I know in my life would probably agree with the above quotation. 

Georgiana Cavendish, was a duchess first, socialite second and one of the most popular fashionistas in her day. The fashion exhibition House Style at Chatsworth House, plays a nod to all the great women who have links with this house over five centuries.

Throughout this wonderful house, there are lots of beautiful pieces of clothing, jewellery, accessories, photographs and very personal artefacts that really give you a feel for the different generations of family that lived there.

There's lots to see, and you will be enticed to look at every little detail, it was very well laid out. Some of the rooms are perhaps a little dark to really get a good view, however it's important to protect the clothing from sunlight damage. The only thing missing, was a glass of champagne as you walked around!!

You can take pictures throughout, these are some of my favourite.

The grand reception

An evening bag which was so beautiful, so fragile too!

They had a room where current designers made their own version of an historic item.
This was my favourite, Vivienne Westwood, she created this dress inspired by Queen Elizabeth I, you can just about make out the portrait behind.
(Apologies for the dark pictures, as I said we were in very dark rooms) 

Chatsworth House appearing in Vogue - August 1952

My favourite room by far!  Six wedding dresses all worn by the different Duchesses.
For the most part, these women chose simplicity and I just loved that.

My top five tips to make sure you get the most of your visit:

Tip 1
Don't go on your own - the exhibition is quite large for it's kind and there is so much to see, so take a couple of girlfriends and make a day of it.  And dress up, why not, you are going to be surrounded by fabulous items throughout!

Tip 2
Take a picnic - if the weather had been warmer, and as the exhibition goes on until October you will definitely get the chance to, I think it would have been nice to have a traditional British picnic with strawberries and champagne in wonderful garden at the back of the house - it was simply fabulous to sit out there and observe the gardens, the people and just admire the actual house!

Tip 3
Aim to go in the one car -  even if you book online, you have to pay parking per car - so think about how you can all go together

Tip 4
Take your time - there is so much to see and you may feel, as it can be quite busy, to be moved on by the people behind you - just let them pass.  Chatsworth have laid everything out well, and some of the notes to explain items are written by hand, so it will take you a little longer to read them - but I think this is a great personal touch Chatsworth have done here.

Tip 5
Enjoy the gift shop - it was a lovely unique little shop right at the end of the exhibition, and there was another one, which had house and garden items in by the cafes. If you have a few birthdays coming etc, then I would explore their accessories and especially their cards as there was quite a lot you would not get on the high street, I love shops like that!


The day I went, the weather was not so great and I thought the house would be cold, but actually it was very warm.  I wore a simple black polo from Zara and I team this up with my new Sofia striped skirt in black and white from Hush, which I simply love, love love; this hits two Spring trends - monochrome and stripes.  There will be more about this skirt on a future post!

An exhibition exploring five centuries of fashion and adornment at Chatsworth, has been curated by Hamish Bowles, International Editor-at-Large at American Vogue, with creative direction and design by Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda.

On until the 22nd October 2017 and the price is included in the purchase of your house ticket.  To book, click here.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Oh what a week!

Sometimes we have weeks where not much happens, and then we get a week where it all seems to happen at once; it started with a perfect day out at Chatsworth House with two fabulous girlfriends, Annette and Susie. We went to see House Style, a fashion exhibition held within the stately rooms. More on this in my next post!

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you'll know I've been into London for a course on Fashion Blogging by the London College of Fashion.  I met some wonderful ladies who, just like me, are keen to share their knowledge and passion with their readers. Hopefully you can spot my certificate, it's been a while since I've had one of them, so it's pride of place in the centre.

The Vogue book is actually a notebook; I got so many compliments for this and my folder, I thought I'd let you know it's still available from the National Portrait Gallery Shop, and it's in the sale - bonus!

My Rayban aviator sunglasses and the Ark Primer are here to give a nod to the great sunshine we've had over the last few days - hasn't it felt like summer? Glorious.  This primer is still one of my favourite beauty products, plus offering protection of Factor 30.  I never travel without it - and on days when it's too hot for foundation, I simply just put this on.

The Daily Planner - well basically I need to get organised.  I'm so good at being organised at work, but not so much in my own life.  If there is one major point I learnt on my course to get things done, you need to plan.  So I will be.  This beauty was only £8 from Paperchase (really sorry, I cannot find it online).

The book The New Garconne was purchased in at Chatsworth House gift shop; I've not had time to read it, but it looks very exciting.  It appears to be the modern day "know how" by the great business women of today on how to be a Gentlewoman.  I'm sure there will be a post coming up on this in the future.

And finally my iPhone - I never leave home without it.  Instagram is my favourite app and so for that reason alone, I am going to leave you with my three favourite Instagram posts from this week!







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