Di Archer, CEO of Taste Life shares her own experience in working with people with eating disorders, and how she discovered it was a mental health condition, so she decided to do something to help

girl not wanting to eat

Source: Alamy


Oh, if only! The first time my friend asked me to ‘babysit’ her teenage daughter who had anorexia was over lunchtime. I was convinced that I would get her to eat. Surely this not- eating business was just down to persuasion, and kindness. So we sat down with our salads. We started chatting about her school work, and her favourite subjects. I began to eat, and encouraged her to do the same. It was only salad and a few bits of cheese, after all. She said she would in a minute. We carried on talking. I suggested she started with the lettuce. She said she might. I ate. She didn’t. I pointed out that lettuce had next to no calories, and would be easy to eat. She toyed with the lettuce on the end of her fork, but never lifted it off the plate. I asked her why. She shrugged. We continued like this, with me kindly persuading, and her politely refusing.

I looked straight at her then, intending to be more directive. To my surprise, I caught a glimpse of real fear in her eyes, and I realised she was afraid… to eat.

I was completely taken aback. For me, this was the first step into the challenging world of eating disorders. Little did I know then that my own daughters would develop eating issues too. They too became fearful of food and were impervious to persuasion. Thus began a journey of understanding what eating disorders are, and how they had got a grip on my beloved girls.

Together with our church friend Jean, some NHS input, tons of research and lots of prayer, we staggered through the darkest of days. We learned that eating disorders are mental health conditions, and are unlikely to be ‘fixed’ overnight. As our girls began to get better – which is a story of its own – Jean and I launched a community course for recovery which has proved truly transformational for those with eating difficulties, of all ages, and their family and friends. The Christian-based but open-to-all tastelife charity was born, and the courses are now run by accredited and trained volunteers.

Who do you know who has eating issues?

As eating disorder difficulties escalate across the UK, we are running faster than ever to help people walk out of them, including preventative resources for young people in schools and youth groups. You may know someone who has an eating disorder, as life pressures including the pandemic have sent statistics soaring, there is hope for them, and the details below may be a good first resource.

How do neurodiversity and spirituality affect eating disorders? Should social media come with a health warning? Find out at the tastelife online Gathering

You are warmly invited to our online conference on 17th June 2023 for an inspiring morning of talks, personal testimonies, and interactive workshops. Do join us as we explore how eating disorders relate to Neurodiversity, Social media, and Spirituality, with experts Kyla Craig (Creative Director of ArtsRiotCollective), Dr. Barbara Mitra (Worcester University) and our own Jo Hurst (Assistant Professor in Occupational Therapy), respectively.

If you need some encouragement right now, our effective and compassion-based resources help many to recover from, avoid and understand eating disorders - hear some live stories.

It’s also tastelife’s 10th birthday celebration - with a surprise launch of a brand-new resource! It’s not to be missed, so get your ticket here.