I’m going to keep my intro short and sweet today, because NEDA week kicks off tomorrow, and I’ll be sharing a lot more throughout the course of the week. Longtime readers know that I always greet NEDA week as an opportunity to celebrate the recovery process and send my support out to those who are struggling with food and body image.
I don’t demarcate my recovery story with start and end dates, because it’s an ongoing journey that unfolds in new dimensions all the time. But when I move into my thirty-sixth birthday this June, it’ll have been about a decade since I really made the choice to stop restricting—not a half-hearted promise to other people, not a dutiful articulation that I didn’t really feel. A sincere commitment to getting better.
My life isn’t populated by too many “before” and “after” moments—most of what really matters has been revealed to me slowly and subtly, often many years after the fact. But that choice does create a dividing line in my memory, and I look back on it as a very particular kind of coming-of-age. It was the first time since adolescence that I wanted to be healthy more than I wanted anorexia.
The recovery that followed was anything but neat, yet somehow through all of the ups and downs I held fast to the intention of giving myself permission to eat, to be satisfied, to have my appetites met. It probably wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the choice saved my life, because even if my physical health teetered above true precariousness even at my worst, recovery is what has allowed me to blossom into a fleshy, fully-realized, totally imperfect human being. It gave me the gift of real life, rather than the bounded and constricted life I’d known before.
Real life doesn’t always feel as good as anorexia did. It’s a lot more confusing, for one thing. There’s less that I’m certain about, more variables to cope with and unknowns to wrestle with. It’s messier. I’m messier. I write about my recovered self with deep love, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes love the memory of my sick self, too. She certainly wasn’t messy.
It just so happens that NEDA week’s theme this year is “Let’s Get Real.” The intention is to start a more nuanced and inclusive conversation about eating disorders, to bust through stereotype and stigma. I’ll have more to say tomorrow, but I love any effort to create a dialog about EDs and recovery that can accommodate the full scope of what people actually experience: the unexpecteds, the unknowns, the things you don’t read about, the mess. All of it.
I plan to post all through the coming week, but I realize that many of you may not be able to tune in regularly. So, if you’re out there and you’re struggling, I want to offer you my love, support, and energy today, this week, and always. I may not know you, but I’m rooting for you. I believe that healing lies ahead of you and that you have the strength to journey toward it. I hope you can believe it, too.
And now, let’s switch gears (sort of!) to talk about food. Specifically, these wonderful recipes from fellow food lovers.
I’ve seen a lot of vegan poke bowls made with watermelon, which isn’t my favorite fruit, so I was really excited to see Alanna’s beet poke bowls as an alternative. Love all of the colors here.
Jessie’s smoky pecan dip looks so creamy and tasty and simple! I’d love to try this in place of mayo in a vegan BLT situation.
Heidi Swanson has deemed this the best simple cauliflower soup, and I believe her.
It’s not quite rhubarb season around here, but as soon as it is, I’ll be making the vegan version of Izy’s beautiful almond rhubarb cake.
Double dessert today! I’m sitting here drooling over Jess’ 5-ingredient vegan toffee bars, and thankfully I’ve got everything I need to bake them tonight.
1. On topic today, 5 truths to hold onto when the pangs of ED recovery feel overwhelming.
2. An inspiring profile of Michael Solomonov and his addiction recovery story.
3. Sharon Salzberg has powerful insights to share about the process of re-writing one’s own story. I love this: “To truly love ourselves, we must treat our stories with respect but not allow them to have a stranglehold on us, so that we free our mutable present and beckoning future from the past.”
What an appropriate sentiment to carry into NEDA week, too.
4. Major kudos to Dianna Chillo-Havercamp for having the guts to address her own relapse as an ED treatment professional. So many of us who do or wish to work in this space have the passion and drive we do because we’ve struggled with EDs ourselves, but it can be frightening to speak up about our histories in professional contexts. Chillo-Havercamp describes how the relapse has actually strengthened her capacities as a practitioner and reminded her that “the work I do isn’t all about victories. It’s about the climb.”
5. This article, like the first one I shared, addresses how to sit with seemingly intolerable emotions, but it does so from a therapy perspective. Some good and practical tips here.
More very soon, friends. For now, happy Sunday.