Weekend Reading
May 15, 2022

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’m happy to report that I’m fully recovered from the flu. And I felt better in time to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom last weekend.

I felt the mix of emotions that I always feel on Mother’s Day: appreciation of my mom, admiration of my friends who are moms, sympathy for anyone who chooses not to observe that day because it evokes difficult personal history, and empathy with all people greet the day—and other family-oriented holidays—with some sadness and longing.

I posted some photos of me and my mom on Instagram, with a loving and appreciative caption. One kind reader thanked me for nurturing my community of followers.

A few hours later, a new client wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, disclaiming that she didn’t know whether it applied directly. But she guessed that, as a dietitian, I’m a nurturing person.

Both comments touched my heart more deeply than their senders might have intended.

I get so, so tired of feeling as though I’m only taking care of myself. I sometimes can’t see, or don’t acknowledge, that I have the capacity, opportunity, and gift of caring for others.

The majority of my private practice is now eating disorders, and many of the individuals I work with are teens. I’m able to be a caring, watchful presence in their lives, and I’m able to encourage their parents and family members, too.

I do some of the same things, albeit in different ways, for my clients who aren’t dealing with eating disorders. It’s always my hope to find the right balance of offering support while also sensing when a client needs me to stand back, remain present, and allow them to work through a problem on their own.

I’d imagine that this is a kind of intuition that mothers use often.

Speaking of my private practice, it’s been taking a lot of my time lately. It’s hard work in the best of ways, and this happens to be a particular intense moment in the lives of many young people that I work with.

So, in the spirit of mothering myself (and not picking up another virus), I relaxed this evening, which is why I’m now posting so late.

To whatever extent I do nurture and care for the community that reads these weekend posts, I feel so lucky to do that. Thank you for allowing me to realize that part of myself.

And happy Sunday, folks. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

I know that Passover has passed, but I just found Lindsey’s smart recipe for homemade, gluten-free matzoh.

I love all of the vibrant colors in these vegan mushroom bowls.

This quick cauliflower bolognese would be super easy to veganize with non-dairy milk and cashew Parmesan cheese.

Red potatoes and leeks, for spring.

What a beautiful sesame orange cake! And that frosting—tahini in/on everything, always.

Reads

1. I didn’t know anything about Dr. John Fryer until I read this article in the New York Times this week. What a legacy—and how poignant it was to read about both the personal cost and the powerful impact of his professional anonymity.

2. An interesting article on the “network associations” of food craving, restrained eating, hunger and negative emotions. The findings are complex, and fair warning, they’re presented with complex visuals. But one major takeaway is that restrained eating, which in the context of the study means intentionally limited eating, was a “central predictor” of eating behaviors and negative emotions. It was a predictor of food craving, hunger, sadness and loneliness.

According to the authors, “food craving was also predicted by hunger and stress, and hunger predicted loneliness.”

Given the nature of my work, I know all too well how devastating the longterm consequences of intentional food restriction can be. Eating to adequacy is crucial.

3. I know almost nothing about climbing, so I’m fortunate to have stumbled on this essay. The author, who is of Piikani Blackfeet heritage, describes the personal thrill she finds in climbing and addresses the complexity of popular narratives about climbing as they relate to Indigenous Peoples.

4. I was very interested to read about Protactile, a language of touch that originates in DeafBlind communities.

5. I appreciated this take on the term “junk food,” which is a phrase that I don’t use. When I work with a new client, I ask them directly whether it’s OK for us not to use words like “junk” or “crap” when we discuss food choices. I also try to gently steer us away from saying that food choices were “bad” or “wrong.”

I even discourage use of “healthy” to describe a single type of food or instance of eating. Context is everything.

It’s up to my clients to define with is nourishing and healthful for their own bodies, along with a vocabulary to describe it. But it’s my choice to create a counseling environment that’s neutral, curious, and free of judgment.

Terms like “junk food” have, as the author of the essay explains, taken on moral insinuations that are problematic for a lot of reasons.

What I can speak to is the problematic reductiveness and oversimplification of assigning these words to food selection. We choose the foods we do for a lot of reasons. Nutrition isn’t always one of them.

This week, a lovely and simple new baking recipe for spring. Look forward to being back here soon.

xo

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    3 Comments
  1. Re your thoughts about indigenous climbing. There’s a very interesting Duolingo podcast about Lidia Huayllas Estrada and a group of middle aged Bolivian women who climbed Potosi mountain in traditional dress. (This wasn’t a stunt, they always wore traditional clothing. Lidia had been a cook at a base camp for mountaineers). Their pride in their achievement brought tears to my eyes. If you don’t read intermediate Spanish, you can probably find out about them by googling Cholita Climbers.

  2. Hi Gena, very thankful for you, reading your weekend post some weeks have really connected with me in a way you may only do so with someone in person.
    I am a mum to a wonderful daughter, and even though being a mum and nurturing tend to be hand in hand, I feel some people just have that nurturing side already there inside them. It really shows in your kind, uplifting words, week in and week out. Anyone who knows you day to day is really blessed to have you in their lives.
    Keep spreading the love dear Gena.
    Faye x

  3. Gena,
    I think that the very fact that you continue to blog here on a fairly regular basis is an example of the way you nurture other people, even though you are not a mother and even though you say you feel as though the only person you care for is yourself. Your posts are thoughtful, considered, insightful and compassionate, and your continuing presence here on your blog creates a sense of community.
    We can’t all be mothers or wives or partners; we can’t all be doctors or nurses or managers or team leaders. We can’t all be the women we thought we might one day be, either. You are a warm, caring role model. Be proud of yourself. Know that there are many people who are grateful for you even if we’ve never met you.
    Sending love,
    Rebecca xo

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