We use your tuition fees to support systems change through the Annie Elliot Awards programme. Discover in this report how a team of visionary healthcare professionals have successfully completed the BALM Diploma implemented the BALM framework and facilitated system change.
Psychiatrist Professor David Veale and the team of occupational therapists have trained, designed and built an extraordinary nutritional psychiatry project that is set to change how healthcare professionals approach treating mental health by underpinning treatments with a programme that supports gut health. The Guts Cafe demonstrates how using BALM protocol as a framework, something as seemingly simple as pizza, can become integral to a comprehensive therapeutic experience, ultimately supporting the holistic well-being of individuals with severe anxiety disorders.
The Guts Cafe: Implementing BALM for Social Change
When people ask who can use BALM protocol, this remarkable project is an amazing example of the application of the Baking as Lifestyle Medicine (BALM) framework for social change and nutritional psychiatry.
We have been empowering systems change for many years. In class, as we teach, we often share stories of our student’s projects, and as a small business, we have used the fees that you pay to create change. Last year we supported over four times our turnover in awards to students who will use BALM to support change.
BALM used as both Nutritional Psychiatry and part of the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Programme in the NHS
In 2018 Professor David Veale attended, with his team, what was then one of our RCGP-accredited courses. The team have worked tirelessly to build something remarkable, and they returned for another week of training as part of The Sourdough School awards programme in 2022. As the team trained and practised their baking skills, they designed and built The Guts Cafe within the Bethlem Royal Hospital.
The Cafe supports individuals residing at the Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit (ADRU), which specialises in treating severe anxiety disorders, as they learn to bake to improve physical and mental health.
BALM Protocol works on many levels.
The BALM Protocol operates on multiple levels; in this cafe, it is a framework that provides occupational therapists with a structure to teach and work with the residents imparting valuable skills and knowledge that extend far beyond the confines of the therapy itself. At its core BALM teaches residents how to utilise simple, inexpensive ingredients to nourish themselves with food they like to eat.
This skill not only empowers residents with the ability to continue nourishing their bodies when they leave the therapy program but also equips them with a set of baking skills that may open up vocational opportunities.
In addition to learning about nourishment, residents participating in the BALM program also gain a deep understanding of symbiotic eating. The program incorporates the connection between the gardens at ADRU, and residents make soups and salads served alongside the baking activities. This approach helps residents recognise the importance of symbiotic eating, which nourishes their gut health and supports environmental sustainability. By embracing symbiotic eating and using the Botanical Blend flour, residents actively contribute to regenerative farming practices prioritising soil health and the environment’s well-being.
Enhanced cognitive-behavioural therapy. As residents delve into the fascinating world of lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast, they understand the symbiotic relationship between microbes and humans. This knowledge enables them to work alongside these beneficial bacteria, further supporting their overall well-being and augmenting their cognitive-behavioural therapy. Learning about sourdough starters and kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir means that residents explore beneficial bacterial roles within the BALM Protocol. They learn about gut health, which is supported by many of the lectures and conversations within the Sourdough Club membership.
The community behind teaching BALM
The Sourdough School BALM Diploma is taught by a community of amazing people who support the programme, including an introduction to the course by Professor Tim Spector, lectures on nutritional psychiatry by Professor Felice Jacka, Professor Rob Dunn and microbiologist Professor Michael Gänzle. There are “in conversations” for residents to learn from with some of the world’s leading fermentors, such as David Zilber. The practical training has been delivered by Vanessa Kimbell and renowned baker Adam Pagor, who runs Grain & Hearth in Whitstable.
The recipes in the cafe have been developed using BALM, and one of the recipes donated to the Cafe is from one of the best sourdough bakers in the world. This ’10-minute’ (ten minutes of active work) high-fibre rye loaf was developed at the Hart Bageri by Richard Hart and his team.
Pizza is therapy.
Pizza itself becomes an integral part of the therapeutic experience within the BALM program. As residents create and enjoy these nourishing and delicious sourdough pizzas, they savour the flavours and actively participate in their healing journey. This hands-on approach fosters a sense of empowerment, instilling confidence and inspiring residents to embrace the therapeutic potential of baking. They engage with their environment, support regenerative farming practices, and develop a deep understanding of the symbiotic relationship between humans and microbes. This multifaceted approach represents empowerment at its best, intertwining therapeutic benefits with practical skills and environmental consciousness.
This a beautiful illustration of how BALM can be effectively integrated into real-world settings, generating positive outcomes.
Dr Alex Davisdon, our Medical Director, says, ” Whilst we provide comprehensive training and commitment, these graduates have emerged as catalysts for change. They skillfully employ BALM principles to support individuals grappling with severe anxiety disorders. The pizza, bread and cakes are absolutely delicious. I stood quietly for a moment and listened as people declared that the pizzas were the best they had ever eaten – and the patients were making them. I am beyond proud of the team.”
The Guts Cafe
The cafe offers a range of practical, everyday delectable foods, including sourdough pizza, rosemary focaccia, beetroot and feta pizza, and sage and onion flatbreads, each meticulously crafted to promote holistic well-being.
The Guts Cafe serves as a space for individuals to enhance their skills and demonstrates the profound impact of baking as therapy using BALM Protocol as part of a holistic approach to fostering mental well-being and overall quality of life.
We take immense pride in the accomplishments of our graduates and their unwavering dedication to effecting meaningful change. Their educational journey at The Sourdough School, coupled with their active involvement in the awards program, has equipped them with the necessary tools to make a tangible difference in the lives of others by applying BALM principles.
Stay tuned for additional updates and success stories from our talented graduates as they continue to create positive change.
We are also delighted that the occupational Therapists can prescribe The Sourdough Club membership BALM social prescription as they complete their time at ADRU with a baking kit and a Sourdough Club membership to access lessons, live support our baking as lifestyle medicine live classes and the wider baking community that we have built over the past decade. This is made possible by the licence funds from the sale of Botanical Blend flour and the generosity and support of Hodmedods and Campbell of Rackmaster.