Weekend Reading
July 11, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

One of the interesting things that can happen when you recover from an eating disorder is that some of your compulsions get rerouted from food and exercise to other places.

No one told me this about recovery. So I was surprised when, years after my food behaviors normalized, I found myself getting disproportionately worked up things like scheduling. Rigidity about food diffused. But a sneaky tendency to be rigid and anxious about planning emerged.

It wasn’t so extreme that it interfered with my ability to socialize, but it did sometimes keep me from actually enjoying myself. If I had to sum up what it felt like, I’d call it an inability to go with the flow. When plans changed unexpectedly or things turned out differently than I anticipated, I’d feel disoriented and irritable.

And we know how often in life things go exactly as planned 😉

I’ve been going with the flow a lot lately. I’m saying yes often, letting my days and my schedule be full.

Of course, having more plans means that there’s more opportunity for things to not go as planned. The more you say yes to, the more you’re also saying yes to uncertainty, to the messy, energetic motion of life.

I’ve been surprisingly OK with it. It’s only when I stop and notice how I’m moving through my days that I realize how far I’ve come in challenging the impulse to control things, circumstances, experiences.

For years after ED recovery, I’d take notice of moments when it became clear to me that I had really and truly changed. Most of these moments involved eating out, socializing, or traveling.

I still have one of these moments on occasion; I remember having one after my trip to Korea two years ago. The moments make me proud. They’re a reminder of how hard I’ve worked to have the kind of relationship with food that I have now.

They make me grateful, too. Grateful for the gift of recovery and the freer, bigger life it creates.

Softening my relationship with food is what ED recovery was all about. I become less judgmental, less strict, and less afraid. I leaned into flexibility and acceptance.

It seems to me that the last step in recovery, which may well take a lifetime, is to take notice of the ways in which the tendencies that made one’s eating disorder possible in the first place express themselves outside of food. And to slowly, kindly, and self-compassionately learn how to challenge them.

I can feel myself softening into life right now, this summer. It’s a new feeling, but a good one. And, just as I used to give myself a little pat on the back each time realized that I’d broken one of my old food rules without so much as a second thought, I’m now feeling proud of how much I’m doing without micromanaging.

I wish you a week of leaning into life, whatever that looks like for you. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

I’m very excited about Constanze’s vegan whipped cream recipe.

Laura’s spicy peanut noodles are a perfect, cool dish for summer.

Simple, vibrant vegan fajitas.

Eva’s smashed potato salad is just the dish for all of your summery gatherings.

It’s not quite as hot in NYC this week as it was last week, but it’s still humid and muggy and not an ideal time to turn on the oven. Natalie’s no-bake sunflower seed butter cookies to the rescue.

Reads

1. On the need for restaurants to accommodate diners who are differently abled—which is clearer now, post-Covid.

2. Very interesting: there may be an association between prebiotics and bone health. The notion of a gut-bone axis is intriguing.

3. How much relative value should we attach to the past, present, and future?

4. When I was doing my GI rotation, as part of my clinical internship, I worked with patients who had Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, or MCAS. It’s a condition that gets limited mainstream attention, so I’m glad to read about growing awareness, as told through one patient’s experience, here.

5. A quick listen about (and lovely image of) firefly swarms.

Happy start to a new week! I’ll be back with my favorite comfort food of late.

xo

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