Attachment, Identity, Community & Food

A Bowlby Centre Conference – 26th February 2022

Where there is food there is attachment. How we feed ourselves and others is a product of both cultural practices and personal capacity to nourish and welcome the other. The dinner table is a stage where guests are welcomed and family dramas are enacted. Sharing meals helps build connection and communities, but food is also a political and social hot potato. This ‘in person’ conference brings together six speakers to explore some of the powerful meanings expressed through our relationships with food.

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Linda Cundy
Attachment, Greed and Generosity: Feeding Ourselves and Others

The impact of the Covid pandemic, global warming and refugee crises have highlighted our capacity for generosity, selfishness and greed. Food is a vital, precious and finite resource, and how we share it out depends on feeling adequately resourced in our internal worlds too.
While empathy and a sense of fairness appear to be innate, they can be distorted and perverted by insecure attachment experiences. This talk will consider attitudes to others, whether they are welcomed at the table as guests, viewed as rivals, seen as objects of pity or ignored as they starve.

Toni Hoskins
Fingers and Forks

Sight loss has a profound impact on a persons’ relationship with food, themselves, other people, and the wider community. In losing vision, blind people can become invisible. Shopping for ingredients, cooking and sharing meals become hurdles that can further isolate them.
Toni will share her experiences of working with and meeting those whose lives have been changed through their visual impairment, raising awareness around some challenges blind and partially sighted people encounter. She will consider factors that tend to promote a better quality of life and highlight some of the aspects that are likely to inhibit independence, connection, and a sense of wellbeing.

Professor Julia Buckroyd
‘Closer than hands and feet: food my frenemy’

Identity, sense of self, is forged in the crucible of relationships in early life, attachment experiences. A viable identity will enable intellectual and emotional development so that we become capable of loving and working. Attachment that is significantly inadequate will leave a child struggling for safety and identity. An eating disorder may provide a way of life that can substitute for an absent or unduly hostile self-definition. However painful, it is pre-occupying and can provide some relief from ‘I don’t know who I am’ or ‘I hate myself’. As a solution it is expensive, since time for development passes by.

Rebecca Smith
Trauma, dislocation and allotments: growing people, crops and community

Food growing is a rewarding and challenging skill that encompasses the personal, inter-relational, and draws on a deepening connection with nature. Voltaire advised a garden can reveal much of life to us, and through the act of nurturing seeds into harvests, gardeners suffering from trauma, dislocation, deprivation and mental ill-health find solace, connection and meaning. Rebecca will share vignettes of moments in the process that she has encountered with clients, from two decades of horticultural therapy practice.

Charlotte Hastings
Kitchen Therapy: creating community in the time of Covid

Kitchen Therapy combines cookery with therapeutic practice, using the relationship with food, cooking and eating as a therapeutic medium to connect people with their deepest sense of Self as profoundly social beings and bring their basic attachment needs into focus.
During Covid 19, KT went outdoors. On a community farm, around real fire, people from differing backgrounds, cultures and resources gathered to pick, cook and eat together, sharing stories and their common humanity. This talk, including film clips of these community-building events, will demonstrate how food-related memories and practices, when shared, can create potentially transformative bonds between people.

Richard Ratcliffe
The significance of food for Nazanin

This talk considers the importance of food and eating in Evin prison, Iran, as reflected through the experiences of Nazanin, her cellmates and her family. It will draw out some of the different dynamics of eating and not eating, making and sharing food, as a way of holding onto a life outside prison, and a dignity inside – and of recovering a sense of humanity and solidarity.


Professor Julia Buckroyd

Julia Buckroyd is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of Hertfordshire. She has been working in the field of eating disorders since 1984. She trained first as a counsellor at Birkbeck College, University of London and then as a psychotherapist with the Guild of Psychotherapists. Her first post as a student counsellor in 1984 was at London Contemporary Dance School where she became interested in eating disorders. Her first book on eating disorders, Eating Your Heart Out, (2 nd edition, Vega, 1996) derives mostly from this experience. From 1994 – 2008 she worked at the University of Hertfordshire while continuing her clinical practice as a therapist. Her work with dancers, including work relating to eating disorders, was published in The Student Dancer (Dance Books, 2000)

Since 2008 she has applied the insights of therapeutic work with eating disorders to obesity, as well as continuing her work on eating disorders.
From 2004 to 2007, she was editor of Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, the research journal for BACP.

She has developed a programme for emotional eaters available to the general public, Understanding your Eating,, and has published an account of her ideas for the general reader in Understanding your Eating (Open University, 2011). In addition, Professor Buckroyd offers supervision, workshops and consultancy to a wide range of organisations on psychological approaches to all forms of disordered eating and related issues.

Linda Cundy

Linda Cundy is an attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice in north London. She has twenty years’ experience of providing training days and courses in the UK and overseas and has curated, contributed to and edited four books to date. While running a postgraduate diploma in attachment-based therapy, she realised the significance of food in mediating all relationships. Consequently, she collected together a group of colleagues who shared her interest in the place of feeding and being fed, leading to the latest book, Attachment, Relationships and Food: From Cradle to Kitchen (Routledge). Linda is the Attachment Theory Consultant to the Bowlby Centre.

Charlotte Hastings

Charlotte Hastings is a psychodynamic counsellor whose work also draws on her training in systemic family therapy and attachment theory. Partly informed by a 1970s childhood split between her grandmother’s home-cooking and her working mother’s boil-in-the-bag dinners, she developed what she calls Kitchen Therapy, integrating talk therapy with cooking in sessions, designed to enhance personal and social wellbeing for individuals, families and groups. She has contributed articles on Kitchen Therapy to professional journals, blogs and the media, and a chapter, Kitchen Therapy: cooking for connection and belonging, to the book Attachment, Relationships and Food: from Cradle to Kitchen. Her Kitchen Sessions podcasts feature interviews with people from many backgrounds about the place of food in their lives.

Toni Hoskins

Losing her sight overnight in 1999, Toni began a journey of learning to live in a world with no vision. She trained originally as a Person-Centred counsellor. Deeply changed by the transitional process of coming to terms with her own blindness, and her firm belief that anyone can have a good life after sight loss, she began to focus her work on supporting other blind and partially sighted people, their families, friends, and carers.

She completed a three-year Postgraduate Diploma in Attachment-Based Therapy in 2017.

BACP- accredited and with over thirteen years of extensive experience working in the sight loss and disability sector, and in private practice with this client group, Toni continues to focus on the importance of valuing difference and raising awareness through her diverse work.

Richard Ratcliffe

Richard Ratcliffe is the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British Iranian charity worker who has been held hostage in Iran since 2016. He lives with his daughter in West Hampstead, London, where he campaigns for her release and works as an accountant.

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith is an award-winning horticultural therapist and landscape designer who has worked for two decades in a wide range of community and care settings with adults, older adults and children. She specialises in supporting clients to recover from mental health difficulties through fruit, vegetable and herb growing. She has most recently collaborated with refugees recovering from the effects of torture, an inner-city deprived neighbourhood, and adults recovering from anxiety and depression. Her practice is Nature Studio,