(Long) Weekend Reading, 3.4.14
March 5, 2014

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

First of all, I just want to thank everyone who read and commented through the course of NEDA week, especially my body dysmorphia post yesterday. I know it was a lot of heavy stuff, but I hope I ended up on a hopeful note, and that the process of sharing was as meaningful to you all as it was to me. I’ll be responding to comments tomorrow.

I’m back on the East Coast and getting back to business as usual tonight. This means a special, Monday edition of weekend reading. Hope you enjoy the links.


Let’s start with something sweet, right? If Ashlae’s sea salt chocolate chip cookies taste as perfect as they look, I’ll be making them far more often than is reasonable.


And if you’re looking for something sweet, but just a little more crunchy, you can check out Golubka’s fantastic sweet potato buckwheat snack bars.


Switching gears, I don’t even know how to handle the beauty that is the alkaline sisters’ ginger creamed pecans and chopped kale with pomelo and avocado. Mind = blown.


Jaime’s orange and fennel salad with avocado looks equally refreshing, and it’s perfect for late winter.


Speaking of winter, I’m currently readjusting to DC temperatures. As is my neighbor, Vaishali, whose Ethiopian lentil stew looks fabulous.


1. Interesting article about “aisle 6” (situated in the center of grocery stores, and famous for housing primarily packaged foods) from Michael Powell.

2. Dan and Mike, who write The Gay Vegans, are two of my favorite bloggers. They are passionate, they are warm, they are kind, and they are incredibly honest. Last summer, when I spoke at Vida Vegan, they sat in the front and asked a ton of questions. Dan told me that he was trying to go deeper with his writing, and in the last year, I think he’s more than made good on that intention. His posts lately, which often focus on echoes between social justice movements (gay rights and animal rights) have been particularly real. I like his post on “coming out” as vegan, posted this week. It definitely brought me back to the days when I was eating a vegan diet, yet still incredibly shy about sharing my choice with others, lest they associate me with any of the stereotypes I was scared of: “angry vegan,” out-of-touch, whatever. I found it tremendously rewarding to start identifying publicly as vegan–matching my intentions with the language I used to describe myself–and it seems as though Dan had a similar experience.

Of course, everyone feels differently about labels, and I don’t think anyone ought to pressure him or herself to talk about lifestyle choices prematurely, or use words that don’t feel authentic. But I agree with Dan that speaking openly about one’s veganism can often lead to interesting, productive, and candid conversations.

3. This isn’t really food or health related, but I’m going to share it anyway. I’m an admirer of Dinaw Mengestu’s writing, and I particularly like his essay on Tayeh Salih’s Season of Migration to the North. Mengestu focuses in particular on the ways in which Salih’s writing creates a vision of empathy and shared humanity. He focuses on this passage of Salih’s:

I preferred not to say the rest that had come to my mind: that just like us they are born and die, and in the journey from the cradle to the grave they dream dreams some of which come true and some of which are frustrated; that they fear the unknown, search for love and seek contentment in wife and child; that some are strong and some are weak; that some have been given more than they deserve by life, while others have been deprived by it, but that the differences are narrowing and most of the weak are no longer weak. I did not say this to Mahjoub, though I wish I had done so, for he was intelligent; in my conceit I was afraid he would not understand.

Mengestu admits that such a bold declaration of universal humanity at the start of a novel may come across as sentimental, but holds that the narrator’s doubt and questioning prevent it from entering such territory. I agree, and I love his closing words:

I came to writing as a supplicant, out of debt and gratitude. If it was necessary, under some dramatic form of duress, to state what the value of literature, or the novel is, I would most likely recite that passage from Salih, not because I’m certain those sentiments are true, but because like the narrator I come to books hoping to find that they just might be.

4. Another much needed, well researched, and evidence-based article from Ginny Messina, about whole grains. Such a vital reality check in this moment of anti-grain hysteria, thanks to books like Wheat Belly (which call on plenty of research, but do so selectively and while also making tremendous generalizations and conflations of facts). Important reading, I think, for anyone who has been scare-mongered into fearing these nutritious foods.

5. Not tired of NEDA week yet? My friend Jenni (whom I had the pleasure of meeting in LA this week) just wrote an incredible post about her ED experience. This is, I know, one of the first times she’s discussed her history on her blog, and I am really proud of her, not to mention touched by her story. I recommend checking it out, along with her blog, which is always thoughtfully written. Jenni, thanks for sharing.

And now, my jetlagged brain is going to retire. Night, friends.


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  1. Dearest Gena, I am weeks behind in my blog reading (I am still saving your body dysmorphia post for when I can pay careful attention) and so I am just now seeing your mention of my post here. Thank you for your support and encouragement. It was intense to write and was followed by an interesting e-mail exchange with my mom, which was a great opportunity for openness, as well. What a relief to have shared and my deep hope is that my story will help others. xoxo

  2. Hey Gena,
    I wanted to comment on the body dysmorphia post already but then this weekend reading came along too quickly and now I want to comment on both :-)!
    The body dysmorphia post really spoke to me: I’m luckily already a good way into my recovery process from anorexia and people who meet me these days can most likely not tell from my appearance that I used to be faaar to skinny. I’m at a healthy weight now, still slim but no longer frail. Actually, the times when I was skinnyskinny didn’t last too long, what however stayed with me for the last 10 years (and until very recently, I’m 28 now) is the fear of food, of putting on weight and the disgust with my own body. Since switching to a mostly plantbased diet I feel that I have gained a lot of pleasure from foods, looking at foodblogs, cooking with my boyfriend and above all: feeding myself well. What however keeps reappearing is my disconnect with my own body, feelings of being “too big” and scolding myself… I think it comes and goes in phases: When I feel happy and in touch with my body it disappears and it returns in moments of stress, discomfort and anxiety. Anyways, it is so helpful to read your thoughts on the topic and to know that there are others who have the same troubles. I especially liked the part where you wrote that you think it is okay not to love every fraction of one’s body at any given moment. I know, that is such a simple statement but given the perfectionist that I am that never ocurred to me… So: Thank you!!
    Now onto weekend reading: Thanks for putting the literature article in (oh, and btw I’d love to see more of those)! I’ve read Saleh’s novel twice before and really enjoyed it (I’m a Phd candidate in Literature), now I’m curious to read the article. I wish we could have a little literature chat 🙂

    • Charlotte, yay! I’m happy the lit geeking out spoke to you 🙂 I wish we could, too — what’s your area of focus?

      Thank you so, so much for this candid and personal comment. I really appreciate it, and am glad my posts this week meant something to you.

      • Sorry, Gena, I’ve just seen your reply. My field is actually Arabic Literature and I am particularly interested in the body and embodiment (incidental?! … well, I don’t know…). If you keep adding the odd literature related read we can have at least a virtual literature chat 🙂

        Oh, and commenting was my pleasure! In fact I asked my boyfriend to read the body dysmorphia post because it seems to express my feelings so accurately that I wanted him so see it.

        • Ha, I agree, Charlotte. In the meantime, I’m happy the post felt so authentic that you could share it with your partner. XO

  3. I really appreciate the reading recommendations. Thank you so much for sharing such interesting articles.

  4. welcome back from cali! those buckwheat bars look amazing! you actually got me hooked on it with some of your sprouted recipes 🙂 ahhh the grain hysteria…while for me, gluten is a big no no. i have found that incorporating quinoa, buckwheat and white yes white rice have helped me tremendously in ‘filler’ and making me feel better in general! eating fruit, veggies, nuts and fruit + lean protein was getting kinda boring. so i appreciate some grains to be a vehicle to my many sauces/dips etc!

  5. Those sweet potato buckwheat bars from Golubka have got me swooning!
    I don’t know how you manage to find all these great articles Gena. I’m totally with Dan on coming out as a vegan. I definitely used to be very quiet about it but now I’m loud and proud about it!
    Looking forward to reading Jenni’s story.

  6. Thank you for introducing me to The Gay Vegans! I’ll be following them from now on. I tried to comment on their post about coming out, but for some reason I can never comment on blogs that use that commenting system. Shame, because I really enjoyed that post.

    I’m also looking forward to reading Jenni’s story! We have the same name, spelled the same way, and we’re both from LA. Weird! I will definitely read her ED experience. Maybe she’ll inspire me to write mine. I’d love to write a Green Recovery story for you sometime. I’ve always wanted to put my experience into words someday. After this week (and in particular, the posts about orthorexia and body dysmorphia), I finally feel like I can do it. Whereas before I grappled with how to accurately tell my story, I think I see it more clearly now than ever before. Parts of my past that I had completely forgotten about have resurfaced in my memory. Not in a triggering way, but in an insightful way. Your posts during NEDA week were some of the most penetrating words I’ve read in a while. Thank you, once again!

    • How unusual to “meet” another Jenni! I’ll look forward to your Green Recovery when you write it; I can say that writing mine was a healing experience.

  7. I enjoy Ginny’s article though I’m still in the anti-grain camp. I do eat grains, but very infrequently, and with exceptions of buckwheat and gluten free oats, I generally regret these indulgences. Though I test negative for celiac, I don’t tolerate wheat, corn, brown rice, or quinoa, even in tiny quantities. White rice I’m not sure about. The thing is, it’s not like I have an obvious allergy either. I only recognize the symptoms because I do eat them so infrequently so when I wake up with a runny nose and a headache and feeling just “blah” I can generally attribute it to the wheat or rice I ate the day before. Moreover, they are NOT that nutritious. They are a cheap and convenient source of carbohydrates (and calories), but I personally think we’re better off sourcing our vitamins and minerals elsewhere.

    I will say that even though I’m in the anti-grain camp, I am glad to see Wheat Belly on trial. I haven’t read it but from everything I’ve heard, the author vilifies not just *wheat* (fine, I agree) but *carbohydrates,* and I think whenever you try and eliminate a macronutrient you are on very shaky nutritional ground. And since the brain requires carbohydrates, it’s the one macronutrient I’d be wariest of cutting back on. Unless I were trying to lose weight, in which case, like the French, it’s bread I’d be eliminating and not butter!

  8. I’m so glad to have read that article about wheat… I have started on the anti-wheat bandwagon after all these online criticisms and bashes against wheat, and I even bought Wheat Belly (but didn’t finish it). However, I find myself better without wheat in my diet so I will continue it, with bits of it here and there in desserts or soups or whatever else but I won’t be so against it anymore.

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