Eating and drinking are something we all need to do to stay alive and well. People can lack cooking skills for a variety of reasons and joining a cooking group can address this. Occupational therapy is about giving people the skills they need to live. This group was designed to be run for clients with eating disorders, but it can be altered to suit different needs.
Disordered eating can be considered an activity addiction in which maladaptive occupational patterns are adopted by a client. For something to be considered an activity addiction, engagement in that activity must be having a serious, negative impact upon the health or quality of life, of that client. Addictive behaviour patterns destroy the occupational pattern that client aspires to and stop them from engaging in other activities, thereby isolating themselves (Pierce 2003). Therefore, it is necessary to practise holistically and address the occupational balance across the client’s life, not just eating and drinking.
Eating and drinking can be considered to be restorative occupations. Humans physically re-gain energy from ingesting food and drink, with which they can undertake other occupations. It is also crucial for survival and something which every human being needs to participate in (Pierce 2003). Therefore, it is necessary to address them during recovery, so that they can be put back into a healthy perspective.
These activities could be overlooked, as they may seem to be an obvious part of everyday activities for most people. However, participation in three regular mealtimes per day, gives a vital structure and routine (Pierce 2003). Menu planning and meal cooking should be part of the treatment plan (Martin 1998). Eating meals with other people also holds a cultural significance. We also mark important events, such as; Christmas and birthdays with special foods (Pierce 2003).
Cooking groups can help with;
- Shopping, purchasing and choosing of foods
- Encouraging acceptance of a variety of foods with differing nutritional and calorific content (Stoner et al. 1996 cited Martin 1998).
- Adjustment of client’s diet to incorporate these foodstuffs in order to re-gain and maintain good health.
- Understanding of appropriate portion sizes to maintain recovery and long-term health.
- Enabling the client to prepare a normal balanced meal.
- Appropriate use of cookery books and recipes, as well as other sources (e.g. learning healthy eating knowledge by heart and applying it to different foodstuffs).
- To develop realistic eating habits, taking into account individual preferences, needs and lifestyle
- Graded introduction to cooking, in order to maintain interest and motivation
- Eating a meal in the presence of others
- Developing a normal rate of eating (Martin 1998).
Martin, J, E., 1998. Eating disorders, food and occupational therapy. London: Whurr.
Pierce, D, E., 2003. Occupation by design: building therapeutic power. Philadelphia: Davis.