Recently MEEDA came together with the talented Yara Zgheib whose debut novel ‘The girls at 17 Swann Street’ addresses the heartbreaking world of eating disorders and the strength, endurance, and support that is required to overcome a disease such as anorexia. As a recovering anorexic herself, Yara is keen to stress her personal story and that eating disorders are a ‘disease’. Too often those who don’t understand the illness are compelled to believe it a habit or a choice of the individual- but Zgheib brilliantly highlights that ‘anorexia is not a choice, it robs you of so many things, sometimes even of your life’.

Dr Jeremy Alford, who runs the Choices Retreats Program, also Founder and President of the Middle East Eating Disorders Association (MEEDA) whose aim is to raise awareness, provide evidence based guidance, support, research and train professionals in the region, understands only too well the complexities of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. His personalized Choices clinical retreats program have been very beneficial to many in the recovery phase of their illness.

The novel tells the story of Anna, a young professional dancer struggling with imperfection, failure and loneliness that ultimately leads to a downward spiral of anorexia and depression. Zgheib’s story hauntingly captures a young woman’s struggle as she partakes in the intimate journey to reclaim her life. It movingly highlights all aspects of anorexia- from the impact on the individual to the torment of the inner circle of family and friends to the strength it takes to enter 17 Swann Street- a residential medical treatment facility inhabited by other vulnerable and fragile women. As well as detailing the devastating aspects of anorexia, the book offers hope to those suffering and emphasizes that with the right support recovery is possible. This is perhaps why People Magazine describes the story as an ‘absorbing page-turner illuminating the raw courage of people who, struggling for their lives, somehow find the strength to support those around them’.

The novel proves that whilst help is available to those suffering, it is important we continue to raise awareness, speak out and encourage toleration and understanding. Eating disorders can affect people of any age, race, religion and gender. They are also a worldwide issue. Novels like Swann Street and organisations like MEEDA play a crucial role in our society by fighting the eating disorder epidemic and offering both support and encouragement to those currently struggling.

It’s as our central character Anna reflects in the book: “The dark, ironically, makes many things far too clear.”

To find out more about MEEDA, visit the website here:

‘The girls at 17 Swann Street’ by Yara Zgheib is available to purchase here:

Are you struggling with an eating disorder? Find out how The Choices Personalized retreats Program and Dr Jeremy Alford can help you:


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