Hannah Lewis, Isla Parker, James Downs, Mark Hopfenbeck, Nicole Schnackenberg

The Practical Handbook of Eating Difficulties: A comprehensive guide from personal and professional perspectives


This book offers a comprehensive, contemporary and practical guide to understanding and helping people with eating difficulties to live and thrive in their communities. Written by people with eating disorders, their families and leading researchers, clinicians and therapists, it explores healthcare and support services, therapies and innovative approaches within a societal context.



Over the last 30 years, the prevalence of eating disorders has increased to become a widespread problem across the UK and worldwide. This book offers a comprehensive guide written by people with eating disorders, their families and leading researchers, clinicians and therapists, all aiming to improve understanding of practical ways of helping people with eating disorders to live and thrive in their communities. The handbook covers the important topics of understanding eating difficulties in our society’s context, including the role of social media and the fashion industry, and how health care professionals and voluntary organisations currently support those with an eating disorder.  It explores the value of exercise, nutrition and sleep, and considers support from parents and schools for children, as well as making reasonable accommodations for young people and adults in higher education and the workplace. Particular therapies for stabilisation and recovery are detailed, and a final section sets out examples of creative and arts-based approaches.


Isla Parker

is a pen name. Isla is a freelance editor and writer who promotes the understanding of health issues and well-being. She undertook a degree in English, and found it interesting to study how literature explores illness. This led to Isla writing a novel about anorexia for teenagers called ‘Size Zero?’, that is loosely based on her own experience. Isla has co-edited ‘The Practical Handbook of Hearing Voices’ and ‘The Practical Handbook of Dementia’ for the publisher PCCS Books. Recently, she has co-edited ‘The Practical Handbook of Eating Difficulties’ for Pavilion Publishing. In her free time Isla enjoys playing the piano. She also takes part in an online writing group that has introduced her to writers from different countries.


Mark Hopfenbeck

is an anthropologist, assistant professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Visiting Fellow at London South Bank University (LSBU) and Individual Partner at the Collaborating Centre for Values-based Practice in Health and Social Care, St Catherine’s College, Oxford University. For the past 15 years he has been teaching and supporting the implementation of the Open Dialogue approach. He is currently co-investigator on a large-scale programme of research into crisis and continuing mental health care within the NHS (the ODDESSI trial) and is on the advisory board of an international collaborative study to evaluate the effectiveness of Open Dialogue in various contexts around the world (the HOPEnDialogue project). At NTNU, he teaches mindfulness and is a member of the Relational Welfare research group. He is co-editor of The Practical Handbook of Hearing Voices and The Practical Handbook of Dementia (PCCS Books).


James Downs

James Downs is a mental health campaigner and expert by experience in eating disorders. He recently completed a Masters in Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge focussing on understandings of “resilience” amongst secondary school teachers and pupils. James holds various roles at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and NHS England aimed at improving support for those experiencing mental health problems and eating disorders, and for their carers. He enjoys working as a peer researcher on a number of projects relating to mental health and eating disorders. James also works with and represents a number of UK mental health charities and is a yoga and barre teacher and teacher trainer. He has written extensively about his own experiences, with the hope that those who read his work find comfort, affirmation and hope.


Hannah Lewis

is a PhD researcher at Queen Mary, University of London where she studies culturally inclusive prevention strategies for eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder – both of which she has lived experience of. Prior to this, Hannah worked in a senior role for a national mental health charity across their research, policy and practice areas. Here, Hannah championed co-production at a national level, as well as influenced the mental health transformation in schools’ agenda, and  with national public health agencies to acknowledge the harm of traditional ‘obesity’ messaging for people with mental health and eating difficulties. Alongside her studies, Hannah still works with charities where she delivers mental health and resilience training in schools, facilitates research and co-production, and leads on a peer-delivered group-CBT project for the BDD Foundation. In her spare time (of which there is very little!) Hannah is a dancer with the School of Strut, a body positive dance school which aims to reject diet culture and promote female empowerment.


Dr Nicole Schnackenberg

is a child, community and educational psychologist; yoga teacher and yoga therapist. She has lived experience of eating struggles.

Nicole divides her time between working as an educational psychologist in Southend, Essex and her position as a trustee of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation. She is also a director of the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance and a trustee of the Give Back Yoga Foundation UK. Nicole has authored books on food and body image struggles: ‘False Bodies, True Selves: Moving Beyond Appearance-Focused Identity Struggles and Returning to the True Self’ and ‘Bodies Arising: Fall in Love with your Body and Remember your Divine Essence’. She co-authored ‘The Parent’s Guide to Body Dysmorphic Disorder’ and co-edited, ‘Reflections on Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Stories of Courage, Determination and Hope’.


Publisher: Pavilion Publishing and Media Ltd

Publication Date: End of October 2021

ISBN: 978 1 913414 68 9


Brief Table of Contents

Part One: Understanding Eating Difficulties

Part Two: Providing Healthcare for People with Eating Difficulties

Part Three: Supporting People with Eating Difficulties

Part Four: Therapies for Eating Difficulties

Part Five: Creative Approaches to Eating Difficulties



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