Emily Thomas explores a stereotype with potentially life-threatening consequences - the idea that eating disorders are a problem that only affects white women in wealthy countries. She talks to black women in South Africa, Nigeria and the US who have had eating disorders. Their experiences and their cultural backgrounds are very different, but they all say the prevailing stereotype that eating disorders are a ‘white’ problem, makes it harder for black women to speak out and get the help they need. They also challenge the notion that these illnesses are caused by the pursuit of western beauty ideals.
(Picture: Young woman. Credit: Getty Images)
Unseen: The Rise of Eating Disorders in China
From diet pills to vomit rooms, the Food Chain investigates the rise of eating disorders in China. Is this an inevitable consequence of economic development? And if so, why are eating disorders still all too often seen as a rich white woman’s problem?’
In the first of two episodes to explore the rising prevalence of eating disorders outside of the western world, Emily Thomas speaks to women with the illness in China and Hong Kong, who explain how hard it is to access support for binge-eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia, because of attitudes to food and weight, taboos around mental health, and a lack of treatment options. They describe the pressure on women to be ‘small’ and ‘diminutive’, but still take part in the country’s deeply entrenched eating culture.
A psychiatrist working in China’s only closed ward for eating disorders blames an abundance of food in the country, parental attitudes and the competitiveness of Chinese society. She also warns of the dangers of the uncontrolled diet pill industry. From there we delve into the sinister world of ‘vomit bars’ with a social media analyst.
We also explore the link between the rise of eating disorders and economic development. Does there need to be an abundance of food in a society before these problems develop?
If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues in this programme, please see the links to resources at the bottom of this page.
(Photo: Woman behind glass. Credit: Getty Images)
The Ungarnished Truth: Restaurant Critics
Emily Thomas brings together a straight-talking crowd who are not afraid to ruffle a few feathers - even when they belong to the world’s most successful restaurateurs and chefs.
Three restaurant critics from across the world don't hold back as they swap notes on the job, divulge the tricks of the trade, and confess whether they are ever left with a bad taste in their mouth after writing a scathing review. We hear how different the role of the restaurant critic is depending on where you are in the world - and how it might change in the future.
Plus, how do our reviewers like being critiqued themselves? They are under the spotlight like never before, as an increasingly online world allows any of us to leave a review - and provides anyone with a platform to critique the critics. Plus, do they ever get sick and tired of eating out, and does anyone invite them over for dinner anymore?
Fay Maschler of the London Evening Standard meets Besha Rodell of the New York Times and Rasmi Uday Singh of The Times of India.
(Photo: Woman with spoon. Credit: Getty Images)
Going Off Cow's Milk?
Emily Thomas asks whether we’re on a slow but steady path to abandoning our pervasive, long-standing, and arguably slightly peculiar habit of drinking milk from cows.
In many European countries and the US, alternative plant-based milks are growing in popularity, and cow's milk sales are declining. Is this just a blip in our millenia-old love affair with dairy, or a steady drip towards a cow's milk-free future?
Three guests debate the potential effects on global poverty, the environment and our health.
(Photo: Brown cow. Credit: Getty Images)
Widowed: Food After Loss
In the second of two episodes on food and grief, Emily Thomas explores the food experiences of the widowed.
In parts of the world where widowhood is seen as a source of shame, widows might be excluded from mealtimes, forbidden from eating nourishing food, and even forced to take part in degrading eating rituals. And even in some of the world's most developed countries where widowhood elicits sympathy rather than suspicion, the bereaved are still more likely to suffer nutritional deprivation than those who are still married.
No matter where we are in the world, when we’re grieving, we need the nourishment and comfort that food, can provide more than ever. But losing the person we eat with most can make mealtimes hard to face, and this can devastate our physical and mental well-being. We hear from widowers and widows about how they managed to find joy in food again.
(Photo: Single chair at an empty table. Credit: Getty Images).