As you have decided to take a look at my website, I bet you’re now wondering who I am, what my story is and how I came to be. Well, you’d be correct in thinking that I am first and foremost a chef. I specialise in promoting mindful eating and focusing on developing nutritious and tasty recipes that are gluten-free, low in dairy and contain no refined sugars. But there is a whole lot more meaning to my work besides fancy words and appetizing recipes. For me, food is like a love affair. My mind will often wonder what type of eggs I’m going to cook for breakfast and how I am going to roast my potatoes for dinner. I find utter joy in experimenting and conjuring up new ways to make delicious food whilst always maintaining my passion for health and nutrition right at the heart of it.
One thing I’ll never forget growing up, is how heavily engaged my family was with food. The kitchen is the hub of our family home filled with lots of love and happy times. However, despite these happy times, it was here where my relationship with food became a difficult one.
Something you should know about me is that my family genes are more prone to holding onto weight and I have always been exposed to conversations about weight. Unfortunately, it could be said that my love for food grew at the same rate as my body. At school, I was bullied for being overweight which, in turn, made my issue worse as I turned to food as a source of comfort; I became a secret eater. As the years went by the weight piled on and it became increasingly more apparent to my parents that something had to change.
Growing up as an overweight child, I found it challenging to understand how to control it and maintain it. I went on various diets at a young age, purely because my parents didn’t want me to grow any bigger but this proved a difficult and long process. I felt excluded, different and constantly angry with life. Over the years, after trying several diets that didn’t work, I finally found a diet that worked for me – by keeping a food diary and taking control of what I was eating. At the age of 13 I weighed 13.5 stone which was more than my dad so I knew something had to change. It didn’t happen overnight but by the age of 15, I had lost 4 stone.
I believe that one of the hardest parts of losing weight is knowing how to maintain it. I noticed that there was a lack of guidance and knowledge of what to do at the time and my greatest fear was putting it all back on, so much so that this fear soon overcame me. There are multiple statements that people have made along my journey that stay in my mind, even to this day. I recall being in a fitting room and a shop assistant explaining to my mum, ‘We have nothing that will fit your daughter’. Now, my feelings when entering a fitting room are not ones of excitement, rather ones of dread and panic, mindful of my past experiences.
Everyone knows that when you lose a considerable amount of weight, the natural reaction from others will be, ‘Oh my g-d you look amazing!’. Comments like these made me feel good. I was terrified to put the weight back on. I began restricting all food groups that I perceived as bad, instigating my negative relationship with food, as I excluded so many beneficial things from my diet.
I soon became introverted and obsessed with food, jeopardizing the relationships I had with my family and friends. As my relationship with food became detrimental to my health and wellbeing; I was admitted to an eating disorder hospital in London, Charter Knightingale on Lisson Grove, to the eating disorder unit. Unfortunately, it was here where my eating disorder got worse, surrounded by likeminded people. After returning home I was disruptive and depressed. I was admitted to Charter Knightingale hospital in Kings Road- the leading private mental health hospital in London, dedicated to treating and preventing mental health problems, eating disorders and addictions for both adults and younger people. It was only after spending a considerable amount of time here that I was helped on the road to recovery.
Ripe future ahead
Following my departure from the hospital, I went to work at the age of 17 in various fields unrelated to the food industry, adhering to the advice from my doctors at the time. However, I soon realised that food is where my passion lies and that I feel most content when working within the food industry. The journey was by no means easy but I am forever grateful for the path I went down because I am now in a position to share this journey and help others realise that it is possible to overcome an eating disorder and work within the food industry.
In 2008 I studied at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school to further my knowledge as a chef. I then went on to set up my business, Cook with Lisa – teaching children and adults how to cook in their own homes, helping others who may have issues surrounding food and in 2014 I self-published my story in my cookbook, My Relationship with Food, combining some of my most favourite recipes to encourage people of all ages and skill levels to cook together and also help people who may have been on a similar journey to myself.
I hope you find my website easy to navigate and enjoy following me on my continued journey. I love sharing my recipes and my passion for food in a positive way so be sure to check out my blog posts, events and recipes to get you on your way.