To Eat with Joy: A Guest Post on Recovery and Activism at Our Hen House
January 28, 2013


Evening, friends! I’m delighted that we have so many budding fermentation freaks in the audience Smile

Tomorrow, I’ll go through some Q & A that arose from the lacto-fermentation post, and I’ll show you a delicious recipe I recently made with my fermented veggies! But tonight, I want to share a special, recovery-themed post with you.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time know that I became vegan in order to address digestive illness and other, related health problems. Early in my twenties, I found myself perpetually tired, bloated, irregular, sleep deprived, plagued by bacterial imbalance, and dragging myself from stimulant to stimulant. I’d been suffering from eating disorders—cycles of anorexia nervosa and a constellation of guilt, restriction, and food phobia that likely falls someplace between orthorexia and EDNOS on the diagnostic spectrum—since I was eleven. An excellent, integrative gastroenterologist helped me to get my IBS under control; a wonderful, empathetic therapist helped me come to terms with the fact that I had a very serious problem with food, and needed help. But it was my transition to a vegan diet that truly allowed me to heal, body and spirit.

I’ll always be grateful that I found veganism as a part of my quest for health answers. But its biggest contribution to my life has been the gift of compassion. Through veganism, I became attuned to the consciousness of other living beings, and I learned that my food choices are not only about me and my well being. To hear more about my transformation from a health junkie to a vegan activist, please read my post over at the wonderful Our Hen House magazine. In it, I share the details of my dietary and philosophical transitions, as well as some thoughts on the power of veganism to heal broken relationships with food. I talk about growing out of ED habits and orthorexia, and learning to eat with gusto and joy. As always, I hope my story will help any of you who are suffering through the isolation of an ED. And for everyone else, I’m also sharing a massaged kale salad!

Our Hen House, by the way, is a very special destination for those of you who are interested in helping animals and learning to express your own activism. Very soon, I’ll be sharing details of my new collaboration with this wonderful non-profit, but for now, I encourage you to check out the ‘zine and explore the option of becoming an OHH flock member for access to exclusive content!

Till tomorrow,


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  1. Although I know and appreciate that you pour your heart and soul into every article here on choosing raw, I always feel like your writing has an extra special charm when you do guest posts. This article is no exception – great job! I can totally relate to it, and I particularly like the kale salad recipe at the end.

  2. Love this post. However I do think it is worth noting how important timing was for you and many of us other “Green recovery” folks. Had you found veganism, or raw foodism in a time when you weren’t actively seekign to get well with a therapist, etc, then things could have turned out very differently. I agree veganism brought more compassion in my life, but wonder, more than veganism, if it was my yearn for living and fighting my disorder that opened my heart, enabling me to fully appreciate the vegan lifestyle.

    At the moment, the many people undergoing the 80/10/10 diet comes to mind. Yes, they are vegan. Yes, they are integrate raw foods. But it seems to me as if they (and I don’t mean “they” in an accusatory way – just a manner of speaking simply) are hurting themselves and exhibiting disordered behavior. No?

  3. Love this. So important to keep sharing the issues openly In a world where so many people are affected by eating disorders, yet often afraid to share. I am so much more adjusted than I’ve ever been, yet I may never consider myself fully recovere. That’s such a static term an I’m constantly in process.

  4. I make a similar very similar to this, only I use a jar of salsa instead of canned tomatoes; it adds an extra kick. I also usually in some quinoa and let it cook in the vegetable broth. Even more of a protein boost!

  5. Gena,

    Fabulous post! I recently posted a blog post on my recovery struggles and successes as well. I consider myself recovered, but know it is a LIFELONG process. I am so thankful to have another plant-loving healthy nutritionist blogger like yourself along there with me who has recovered too. Isn’t it interesting how we are so much more passionate about nutrition SINCE overcoming this ED struggle. This week, specifically has been a week that I have truly had to fight hard against those old voices- but I won! What a blessed thing recovery is. Learning how nutrition helps others often helps me too, Thank you for sharing this post! I just love it and love the picture! #LOVEMYKALE!!:)

    God Bless,

    Here’s a link to my post on my recovery and honest admissions:

  6. Gena, this moved me so much (because I relate to it so much!). Thank you for writing such a beautiful reflection. As I mentioned in my recent blog post, you are a true inspiration. Reading your words makes me feel like I’m un-learning the toxic thoughts I’ve been stuffing in my brain (also since age 11). Thank you thank you thank you.

    I do have one question—and I hope it doesn’t come of as judgey or confrontational—but I’m curious why you put the number of servings a recipe yields. There are times that I feel like that number makes me restrict how much I would normally eat, or, alternately, if I eat as much as I want, I feel guilty because it was *supposed* to serve 2 (or 3, or 4). Just a comment, but certainly not an attack! I suppose part of the process of making peace with food is being okay with eating more than the recommended serving, so I’m not even suggesting you change anything. Just curious if you had any thoughts about that!

    • Raechel,

      I routinely eat twice as much as some of my suggested servings, but I have a bigger appetite and eat more volume than most people I know, so they’re supposed to just present an average. Sometimes they work for me, sometimes they don’t; I *always* encourage you to eat to appetite.

      It’s one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” things. When I don’t post them, I get tons of comments asking me for the serving size, and folks get confused. But when I do post them, I have to do so knowing they’re not appropriate for everyone. Maybe I should make a note of that with each recipe?


      • Eh, like I said, it’s more of my issue than a suggestion to change it. It’s probably very helpful for people who are feeding more than one person, and for things like salad, I know sometimes people assume that’s a “starter” rather than a meal, so I bet the servings make more sense then. And if people read your blog regularly, I’m sure they know that you encourage people to eat in an amount that works for them.

        Anyway, thanks again for the article, that was the real reason for my comment. : )

  7. I loved this article and shared it on Facebook. This, of course, is a timely reminder that veganism–as opposed to the many fad diets and exercise plans of the new year–can serve as an important tool for recovery. It is so critical that we disabuse people of the idea that this diet is a transient way of eating or a means of restriction; it can be freeing and ultimately open of stores of compassion inside each of us that we might not discover otherwise. Hope you’re well, Gena!