About us

From left: Vincent Deary; Duika Burges Watson; Callum Dyer; Keith Mills; Sam Storey

Altered Eating is a Community Interest Company. Our five directors are:

Sam Storey

Sam is the cook for Altered Eating. He has been involved in several well-known and successful commercial projects such as Belle and Herbs and Dil and the Bear. He has also worked on community- based projects such as Soul Soup, an arts and food initiative to encourage people to cook, Festival of Thrift and for the Station Master's Community Wildlife Garden. He was involved in the Comfrey Project in the West End of Newcastle where he has helped set up cooking groups for asylum-seekers, an experience that also brought him into contact with new cooking styles. With Duika Burges Watson, Sam has run numerous 'flavour masterclasses' in the community for 'normal' eaters and for those with altered eating difficulties. Sam was finalist for the 2018 BBC Food and Farming award 'cook of the year' for this work. Sam has an interest in using whatever cooking skills and knowledge are available to help those with altered eating difficulties - including modernist techniques where valuable. He is fascinated by the 'science of deliciousness'. Sam leads the altered eating cookery projects and events.

Dr Duika L. Burges Watson

Duika was Principle Investigator on the NIHR/RfPB funded study with survivors of head and neck cancer that let to the development of the Altered Eating approach, Altered Eating CIC and the Altered Eating Research Network at Newcastle University. From a research perspective she is interested in food – from source to senses – and how health geographic and qualitative methodologies can help in re-thinking why and how food matters to health and well-being. From a practical perspective she is also interested in how community food and growing projects can be of value in engaging people in the pleasure and joy of food, particularly if that joy has been lost. She was founding member and Director of the Station Masters Community Wildlife Garden, Yoga Station and Green Beans Market. She is also academic advisor to the charity AbScent for people with smell loss.

Professor Vincent Deary

Vincent co-leads the Altered Eating Research Network. He is a practitioner health psychologist and a practicing cognitive behavioural therapist. His research work draws upon his clinical experience to develop new psychosocial interventions for physical and emotional health complaints. Vincent was co-applicant on the Resources for Living research on altered eating in head and neck cancer survivorship. He supervises PhD and Masters students employing the Altered Eating Framework in relation to Primary Sjogren's syndrome, Autism, Parkinson's Disease, Peanut Allergy and 'altered intimacy'. He is a founding member of the Northern Association for Persistent Physical Symptoms, a clinical network aimed at supporting the care of people with long-term physical symptoms. He is also a published author whose first book 'How We Are' on habit and change in normal life is published by Penguin Press.

Dr Sue Lewis

Sue Lewis is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Geography. A post-doctoral position helping to evaluate a Big Lottery-funded health initiative in Scotland – more than two years spent “embedded” with the delivery team – shifted focus to the social anthropology of health. She has since worked on a range of projects with public health organisations and in communities across the North East of England. Examples include a collaborative project with the first office for tobacco control in the UK, understanding young people’s risky health behaviours, and co-producing solutions to altered eating with survivors of head and neck cancer.

Val Bryant

Val has been working with the Altered Eating team since its inception. In the process, she received training in qualitative research and has contributed to some of the data analysis for research projects. Val was a deputy head teacher in a primary school, when she was diagnosed with a secondary from primary tonsillar cancer. She was treated with 6 weeks chemo- and radiotherapy. As a result she was unable to eat and could hardly sip water. After 8 years her sense of taste is practically back to normal and she actually looks forward to food again. However she had to have a PEG reinserted in 2012 because she was becoming too weak and malnourished. She also still suffers from trismus (spasm of the jaw muscles, causing the mouth to remain shut), xerostomia (abnormal dryness of the skin, mucous membranes, or conjunctiva) and dysphagia (difficulty or discomfort in swallowing). Val is thoroughly invested in the research and the development of the Altered Eating CIC and has been actively contributing to the development and direction of both.

Keith Mills and Callum Dyer lead the multi-media developments for Altered Eating.