Weekend Reading, 12.3.17
December 3, 2017

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about intuition. Merriam Webster defines it as “quick and ready insight,” “immediate apprehension or cognition,” and “the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.” The gist, I think, is that it’s a kind of understanding that presents itself before rationalization kicks in.

Intuition has been on my mind in the context of my nutrition coaching work. In the last few weeks, many clients have expressed to me what other clients in the past have shared, too—that they have a gut feeling about something that’s going on with their bodies, which may or may not be getting validation from healthcare practitioners or clinical investigation.

I’m not a doctor, and it’s not my job to take guesses at the cause, but it is very much my job to listen, to take whatever physical manifestations are showing up seriously, and to assure my clients that, if they feel or sense that something is awry, then they’re probably right—even if the origins are multifaceted, psychosomatically mediated, or otherwise difficult to pinpoint. It’s also my job to help them find ease, peace, and nourishment with food, so that eating doesn’t become (or remain) a source of additional stress.

As I was working to gently assure my folks of their “quick and ready insight,” I got to thinking about how I relate to my own sense of intuition. I used to have faith in it—in my instincts, gut feelings, hunches—but I’ve been much less assured lately. Part of this may be the humility of growing a little older and realizing that one can be wrong, often, and that things are never really as black-and-white or self-evident as they might seem at first.

Part of it has to do with my anxiety, which is better these days, but still an ongoing challenge. It’s difficult to trust in one’s own quick and ready insights when paranoia, overthinking, and painful indecision over small choices are a part of everyday life.

Lately, though, I’ve received some small but significant reminders that I have a sense of intuition and it is trustworthy and sound. It may be more difficult for me to hear it than it is for some others—I’m an over-thinker by nature—but it’s there. And, when I tune in, it usually steers me toward honest and authentic choices, actions, and words.

I’m working to foster and connect more deeply with my intuition in daily meditation practice, in yoga class (closing my eyes while I’m practicing has been a big part of this), and I’m even hoping to pick a mantra or two that might serve as guideposts. I haven’t come up with anything yet, but if anyone has a suggestion, I’d welcome it. My intention isn’t to turn off intellect or ration so much as to understand that beneath my conscious thought is a force that can guide me honestly and wisely, and to take thanks for its safekeeping.

On that note, welcome to December! Can’t believe it’s here. Some wonderful recipe sightings this week, including great choices for vegan entertaining, and an interesting collection of article links. Enjoy.


In spite of my cravings for all things warm and bready and soupy right now, I’m loving Lindsey’s crispy, textured, refreshing brussels sprouts, honeycrisp, and cabbage slaw with spicy almond butter sauce. What a perfect winter salad.

Hosting a holiday party? These hoisin glazed vegan meatballs are a perfect, protein-packed appetizer. I love the earthy base of walnuts and tempeh.

Another winter salad, this one featuring tender wedges of roasted kabocha, crispy fennel, creamy avocado, and sweet maple-glazed pecans. Yum.

I know what’ll I’ll be making to satisfy my next comfort food craving: Jeanine’s creamy white bean shells with broccoli. Bonus points for being wholesome as well as cozy and filling.

I’ve never tried butternut squash in a crumble, crisp, or pie, but I’m really intrigued by winter squash dessert recipes, and Tessa’s apple butternut squash crisp looks like an excellent place to start.


1. I know I’ve posted a lot of articles and essays on the theme of “I didn’t seek help for my eating disorder, because I didn’t think it was ‘serious’ enough to warrant treatment,” but I’ll keep doing it, because this message is so important. So many men and women suffer quietly with disordered eating because they don’t think they’re sick enough to seek help, or because they’ve internalized a socialized, media-reinforced image of what someone with an eating disorder looks like.

This article is a competitive runner’s reflection on coming to terms with the fact that she had the female athlete triad (amenorrhea, energy deficit, bone density loss), in spite of the fact that she could pass for “normal” or “healthy” even at the worst of her restrictive periods.

It’s a reminder that eating disorders can quietly wreak their havoc regardless of how a person presents outwardly. And, speaking of intuition, a powerful story of finally listening to an inner voice that was crying out for help and support.

2. An interesting interview that touches on how the public’s relationship with science is changing. The upshot is that scientists are coming to understand that they need to emerge from their proverbial “ivory tower,” engaging in open dialog with a public that no longer accepts their authority on faith.

3. Joel Kahn, a vegan cardiologist, elucidates new evidence linking mouthwash use to hypertension and possibly to an increased susceptibility to type II diabetes.

The correlation is to do with mouthwash’s interruption of oral production of nitric oxide; nitric oxide helps to increase blood flow and reduce the likelihood of blood clotting, which is beneficial for cardiac health and circulation. According to Kahn, you can increase nitric oxide production through careful chewing of food and avoidance of antiseptic mouthwash, unless it’s been prescribed for a short period of time by a medical professional.

4. Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I like Julia Belluz’s words about the importance of placing holiday meals into a reasonable perspective.

There’s a lot of alarmist messaging out there about holiday dining, which is natural, given the abundance of social gatherings at this time of year. But the truth is that a few holiday indulgences are perfectly fine, so long as healthful eating patterns are in place. Belluz interviews a few nutrition experts, including Marion Nestle, and their words affirm what dietetics students like me are taught all the time: it’s the big picture that counts.

5. Finally, The New York Times has republished a heartening and—I think—inspiring essay about the value of renewal (mapping restorative periods and rest onto the work day) as a means of working more productively and effectively.

Speaking of that, wishing you renewal and proper self-care as you head into the first full week of this busy month. I’ll be back tomorrow with a seasonal and crowd-pleasing salad recipe.


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  1. Have you read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow? It’s not exactly what you’re looking for, but it may give you a better idea of when it’s a good idea to trust your intuition (“System 1”).

  2. Dear Gena, my reading “ears” always perk up when someone starts writing about intuition, so I was very interested in what you had to say about it. I can certainly relate to anxiety getting in the way of it, but nevertheless we do find ways to reach ourselves. Your mention of yoga with your eyes closed (which I sometimes do a little of) made me realize that I have lately been compelled when taking a photo of my art to position the phone camera and then close my eyes as I actually snap the shot. It seems to be all about trusting I have framed it and can let go. Surprisingly, I have gotten some really good shots that way. So if I was going to suggest a mantra, it would be something very simple like “trust” or “I trust myself.” Hope that doesn’t sound silly. The food this week was absolutely beautiful. Now I have to get up my courage to read Joel Kahn’s take on mouthwash. In my long and winding tooth fixing journey, it has become an essential component. So I guess “trust” may be helpful in that situation too! Much love to you and thanks again for this great series. I always look forward to it.

  3. Hi Gena, thank you for the kind recipe feature here in your post. You have a lovely writing style – I’ve been missing my own connection with my intuition recently and I feel like you hit the nail on the head when you mention anxiety and being a chronic over-thinker (me too!) – it really clouds that connection with your higher self. The tools I use to clear my mind and tune back in are a simple chakra meditation to re-balance and re-align, and use of oracle cards because I find the guidance they provide with the affirmations or prayers at the end give me something clear to focus on. Much love to you x

  4. Oh Gena – how do you always know exactly what my soul needs?! That article about holiday dining? And the reminder to take a fucking break (which in all honesty I did last week in CA and then by reading instead of working on the plane)? *bows*

    Thank you, as always, for your honesty, open-heartedness, and balanced views. So grateful to have your wisdom in my life.


  5. Gena,

    I have been following along for a few months now and wanted to say thank you for your writing. Your site is a nice place to visit when I need to read something sane and reasonable. I look forward to the weekend “wrap ups” that you provide and have passed some of the articles/ideas onto friends. I particularly like this weekend’s recommendation (#4) about alarmist reactions to holiday dining. I subscribe to a cooking magazine and saw an article which advocated a pre-holiday detox diet so that you could indulge at the holidays. (And to be fair, the magazine promotes a balanced way of eating a variety of food groups year round.) The article certainly got me thinking though about the messages that get put out there-whether or not those messages might be harmful or helpful to the way Americans view healthy eating.

    Lastly, I have made a few of your recipes too and so far have gotten good results. Thank you for all of the effort that the site must take you. It’s appreciated!
    Libby Fife

    • Thank you for reading, Libby! I love writing this blog, and it means so much to me that you’re tuning in. Thank you, and I’m glad that the posts (and recipes) speak to you.

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