Vegan

Battle of the Food Allergies & Eating Disorder

A few weeks ago I wrote one of my favorite entries, Can I be Allergic to my Eating Disorder?. I had always wanted to share with my readers how food allergies changed my eating disorder recovery in a myriad of ways.  Even though food allergies make recovery more difficult, they have helped me overcome and stay on top of my eating disorder (for the most part). I stay on top of my ED with a few simple tools: learning a new way to eat, inventive ways to prepare/cook food, meal planning-my ultra super secret weapon.

I grew up eating, enjoying, and cooking good ole Southern food. You name it I can make it. Chicken and Dumplin’s, beef stew, biscuits and white gravy, pound cake, layer cakes of all kinds, buttercream frosting, casseroles, apple butter, canned green beans, etc. If it was a cheese dish, you added extra cheese. If it was a cake, more frosting!  And like all Southern kids, I spent quite some time stirring the jelly in the copper pot while complaining my arms are getting tired. It took many years to master the subtle art of Southern-Appalachian cooking however, when I was diagnosed with food allergies I had to adapt to this new world of food. Gluten free cooking/baking a horse of a different color. I had to learn about flours and how they interact, how to make blends, how to decrease contamination. When it came to dairy free cooking/baking I learned how to make my own buttermilk, how to create dairy free cheeses out of tofu and nuts. I even learned to make my own nut butter since I was allergic to peanuts. It was, and still is an ongoing and fun process! I enjoy learning new ways of approaching food and the challenge of making gluten-dairy-nut-free food taste good.

Lets take that a step further and add eating a mostly vegetarian, sometimes vegan diet. It definitely makes things more difficult, maybe I am a glutton for punishment or I just like my tummy to feel good, possibly both. When you cook vegetarian or vegan fare it takes finesse, skill, and an understanding of spices/herbs, how you can make non-meat (tofu, mushrooms, beans, lentils, I don’t eat “fake meat”) taste like meat and manipulate the textures to make it tasty. When you have a meat loving husband you try even hard to make your allergen free, meat free, food taste better than their gluten and meat filled counterparts. It is fun to read cookbooks, find pins on Pinterest, and go on your whim-take what you already know and play with what you are learning or what you think would work. In other words: YOU COOK! I have had epic fails and amazing successes. All in all when I rely on good food I know I am nourishing myself which is exactly what Melvin (my ED) doesn’t want. Cooking is a way to shut him up and feed him yummy, tasty, delicious allergen free, meat free fare.

I have also started to incorporate mindful eating and a more yogic perspective on eating. The book Yoga of Eating inspired me so much.  When I eat more mindfully, as in I eat slowly and listen for hunger cues, I can stop myself from binging. I can also stop myself from getting sick and irritating my GI issues. I also try to eat smaller portions slowly so I can fully fill my stomach get full and go back for more if I  need it. I also try not to pigeon hold myself into traditional dinner rules or other eating rules. I may not have any grains in a day and that is ok because my body may not be able to digest it. I may have more grains than fruit. I  may have more vegetables that anything else. Whatever it is, I make sure I get enough nutrients and listen to what my  body wants. When I eat what my body wants and not what I want I again have set myself up for success against Melvin.

Lastly, my biggest tool against my eating disorder that I have learned in my fiveish years of this lifestyle, is to meal plan. I never really understood meal planning till I got married. I had to plan our meals and maximize our budget. Then that changed once I stopped eating meat. I had to plan my own meals, his meals, maximize our budget, and make sure I have enough food for snacks (which I have a hard time doing because I just think of three meals). I sit down each Monday and meal plan for at least two weeks, sometimes I get through one. I peruse Pinterest, cookbooks, and my recipe collection, pick similar recipes or recipes that use similar ingredients. I also look at my pantry staples and see what I can already  make out of them. I write down my recipe ideas, usually three to five dinners/lunches (it’s just me and I LOVE leftovers), three snacks that make multiple portions (raw bites or smoothies), and then I pick up some go to prepared but whole food snacks that I can supplement as well (bean chips, whole grain corn chips from Aldi’s, with their peach mango salsa is a must!).  I have noticed that when I don’t plan I go to the grocery store more I rely more on packaged, processed foods like Amy’s Meals, while great on occasion, aren’t the best all the time. Or drive thru Bo-rounds and their Cajun Pintos.  I also notice that Melvin is more rampant. I tend to refuse to eat because “I have no food” or I binge on junk food (vegan ice cream anyone?), I also feel hungry. My body isn’t properly fueled and can’t sustain itself with my busy and active lifestyle. Ages ago I could go on hours of exercise on little to no food. But now as I am older and more aware this yogic dancer needs her food or else I am not pirouetting or down-dogging!

All of these tools I learned or honed because of my food allergies. Without being diagnosed with food allergies I would not have learned how to use these tools to manage my ED. I am continuing to develop these tools and adding new ones to my arsenal. How do you use food to manage your ED or other food plagues? For my fellow allergen followers what have you learned from your food allergies? I would love to hear what you have to say in the comment section!

 

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Yoga and Eating?—why yes and it is not what you think!

When I first got my yoga teacher training book list I saw a book I was scared to read/thought it would be triggering….Yoga of Eating by Charles Eisenstein. What I thought would be another book on how to eat like a yogi, or another “diet” book, I wanted to avoid it. I have a hard time reading anything that has to do with eating or “dieting” because of my own issues and how I am navigating my own recovery. I heard from my peers how great the book was, even from one who was in ED recovery too. So I decided to give it a whirl. Boy, was I surprised! This book is great for ED’s. It isn’t about what to eat, but how to eat better with where you are in your “diet” or lifestyle.Eisenstein breaks up the book into a variety of chapters addressing willpower, breath, personality and food, karma, fat, sugar, different kinds of diet, food preperation/cooking, and so much more. He dives deep into each subject and relates it all to his idea of Yoga of Eating. Take mindfulness and love of food and you got Yoga of Eating!

Yoga of Eating has definitely helped me navigate this world of ED recovery and how to approach my lifestyle with happiness and food appreciation. I believe that those of us in recovery and professionals who work with ED patients need to read this book. It can definitely help with perspective and break down some barriers ED sufferers have with food.

Here are some nuggets of food wisdom I found worth sharing:

*”Self-improveent is an appealing but malignant idea, a poignant rejection of our innate goodness. It means that we have accepted and internalized those messages of deficiency, laziness, and sin. Sometimes people take up a strict diet in hopes of therefore being good, deserving, or pure, thus establishing a tendency to withhold from themselves what they really want or need. Even without this tendency, because our conventional dietary recommendations are a confusing mish-mash of shoulds and shouldn’ts that seemingly have little to do with our desires as expressed in the body, a diet of self-improvement inevitably becomes a diet of self-denial. ” (12)

*”You are a symphony of vibrations that encompasses every thought you think, everything you do, everything you eat, everything you are.” (20)

*”The idea of deep breathing is not to impose upon the breath, not to direct it or control it in any way; rather it is the opposite–to liberate the breath, to free it of the constraints already upon it. That is why the foundation of deep breathing is what I call natural breathing…The same joy of liberation applies to diet as well, and equally it requires a release of physical habits and mental habits such as belief systems.” (32-33)

*”The central practice of the Yoga of Eating could not be simpler: to fully experience and enjoy each bite of food.” (41)

*”The benefits of the Yoga of Eating come not from self-denial, but from uninhibited enjoyment of and delight of food. nonetheless, the practice I have described may seem demanding and extreme. Meals, after all, are our main theater of social interaction. Who wants to spend every meal in silence? It would seem that the Yoga of Eating take all the fun out of eating…Why do we use meals for social interactions; for dates, for instance? One reason is that without distractions–such as a meal, a view, an activity, at least a cup of tea–interaction with other people gets uncomfortably intense. True intimacy develops under conditions of silence or joint creativity–and true intimacy is scary and uncomfortable. So, we use various means to keep intimacy at arm’s length, interposing small talk, glances away, facial masks, insincere remarks, little jokes changes of subject, sips of tea…or bites of food. Eating helps us maintain a comfortable distance from one another. Any time things get uncomfortable, you can escape into your food. Moreover, the acts and sensations of eating themselves dull one’s awareness of other presences.” (49)

*”The good news is that when you practice attentive eating, even once a day or less, you progressively {instill} a habit of complete chewing and assimilation of nutritive energies. Eating becomes so enjoyable that it calls to you through the conversations and through the distractions. It is not willpower that draws you back to the eating sensations, but rather the sheer pleasure of the sensations themselves, which begins to overwhelm the allure of distractions. Just as meditation brings serenity and mindfulness to all of life, so also does a daily  practice of attentive eating.” (52)

*”Do not be afraid to let go of a diet when it no longer serves you.” (61)

*”Let your {food choice} be okay, no matter how {shocking} it violates your knowledge of nutrition and good diet and, with full attention, enjoy what there is to enjoy.” (67) (very important for us with ED’s!!!!!)

*Neither does “health worship” reflect a sincere love of the body. there are people, most notably extreme adherents of various dietary philosophies or exercise regimens, who worship bodily health, seeing it as an indication of virtue, and disease as a sign of, or punishment for, some impurity of diet practice.  According to this calculus, the healthy zealot of our scenario is superior to the sick people of the world. He is better than they are. He has found the True Gospel, and will not hesitate to prozelytize. Very often (as with anyone who clings to pride) the result is humiliation–and what could be more humiliating to the health zealot than a serious illness? But even if the health-worshipper never gets sick, what good does his health do? The body is our vehicle for living and acting in the world; it is meant to be used. There is more to health, to wholeness, than mere physical integrity. You have been incarnated as this body for a purpose, and to achieve it your body possesses tremendous strength, resilience, and resources.” (72)

*”Like a young child, your body loves you totally and instinctively. Like a faithful dog, it stays loyal even when you kick and abuse it.” (74)

*In regards to fasting…”It does no good to clean the body without doing any deeper spiritual work.” (80)

*”A healthy diet thus becomes a constant battle between or natural appetites and the received belief that fat is bad.” (89)

*”In Chinese the most common world for fat in describing a person, pang, is never used to describe fat, fei, piece of meat, and I’ve been told this is true in other languages as well.” (90)

* In regards to meat eating/veganism/vegetarianism…”In general, though, to sustain a state of being that is energetically involved in the world, and that is hale, hearty, and humorous, meat is necessary for most people…You may choose to ignore your body’s needs. That’s okay! If you have a physical need for meat but nobly chose a vegan diet out of compassion, that is fine–as long as you can accept with equanimity and without resentment the physical degeneration that may follow. I have known quite a few vegans who have developed some kind of chronic disease or degenerative physical condition…Physical degeneration is virtually assure if the motive for the diet is not entirely compassionate, but tainted with the kind of vanity–a factitious self-image of purity, superiority, or exculpation from the sins of industrial society. Self-righteousness and judgmentality indicate that vanity-love of an image, in this case the image of compassion–has supplanted compassion itself as the motive for eating a vegan diet…Of course there are people who thrive on a vegan diet–most often people who are well-nourished in the spirit, secure and generous, autonomous and nurturing of others. They do not take pride in their diet or derive self-esteem from it. They do not advertise it or urge it indiscriminately on on others; they seldom mention it. They are radiant people. But even these people usually do better with some amount of eggs, butter, milk, and cheese, unless they practice a very monastic lifestyle.” (99)

*”The Yoga of Eating is quite the opposite: that each is the ultimate authority on his or her bodily requirements, and that the body will reveal its requirements given sufficient attention and trust.” (100)

*”Closed off from the experience of sweetness in life, yet hungering for it to the depths of our souls, we turn to the imitation of this sweetness in sugary foods. Sugar does nothing to allay the essential longing, though; at most it temporarily distracts our attention from the soul’s craving for sweetness.” (104)

*”Perhaps sweet foods are here to remind us and reaffirm that yes, life is sweet.” (106)

*”For yoga means union, and the Yoga of Eating extends beyond bodily integrity to encompass every aspect of our individual and collective lives.” (130)

*”Thus the fundamental method and practice of the Yoga of Eating is to listen to your body-soul, trusting the tools of taste, smell, and intuition, not imposing any specific expectations, not expecting any specific results. The results will come themselves. Meanwhile, enjoy the delights so freely available from food, a gift that never ends.” (145)

one-meal

rolling in the gluten free dough…

Daily Prompt: Ingredients

by Ben Huberman on February 9, 2014

What’s the one item in your kitchen you can’t possibly cook without? A spice, your grandma’s measuring cup, instant ramen — what’s your magic ingredient, and why?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us KITCHEN.

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I know this prompt is a few days old, but I don’t check my blog/write in my blog daily. When I saw the prompt I knew I had to write about this! For those who don’t know me, I LOVE cooking and baking. I grew up by my mother’s side in the kitchen. I had little aprons. I had real pots and pans, not just the Fisher-Price kind. Growing up I wanted to be a singer AND a television chef like Julia Child.

Cooking is in my genes. My mother cooks. My Memaw (grandmother) cooks. My Mimi (great-grandmother) cooked. My mom’s God-mother cooked. It was a way for them to show their love to others. Feed them mind, body, and soul. Growing up in the South a young girl is taught, more like schooled, in how to cook (all except for my sister, she never cared to learn). Family recipes and “old”/”country” way of doing thangs is passed down from generation to generation like cast iron skillets. I have early memories of stirring apple butter on top of a wood stove. I have early memories of learning how to make biscuits from scratch.  I have early memories of being taught my mom’s famous chicken and dumplin’s recipe. I adored making dumplin’s and dropping them in the creamy, white, thick, gooey broth. I even remember the first time I made buttercream frosting (just butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. NO EGGS. This isn’t Yankee buttercream).

As I grew older I learned more recipes. Boiled Custard. Mimi’s Applesauce Cake. Fudge. How to make cakes from scratch. Scones.  I learned stories from the good ole days of my Mimi. How they didn’t use toothpicks to test a cake, they used broomstick hairs (what is cool, you can still get these in old country stores and artisan shops).  I even learned how to properly season a cast iron skillet, and how to thump bread to see if it is done. It took me years to master flouring and greasing a pan. Let’s just say the kitchen sink and floor would be covered in flour!

Once I was diagnosed with food allergies I had to change the way I cooked. Suddenly those old methods of cooking didn’t apply to gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan cooking. But I loved the challenge. Learning to cook new styles of food and new ways of food has really broadened my foodie side even more. So now I am learning to turn gluten-free bread on its side after baking, that tofu can make: Alfredo sauce, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, and feta cheese. That gluten free cakes are different, but just as, if not more tasty than their gluten filled counterparts. And most of all, I can share these new foods with others. Just like my family did with their cooking, I can with my own cooking. I introduce people, and my husband, to this new and tasty world of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan-vegetarian world I live in. I feed them mind, body, and soul.

Now you maybe wondering, “this is about an ingredient or a cooking tool. This chick isn’t there yet.” Well I am getting there…I have to make all this food with something correct? I don’t have a magic wand to bippty boppity boo it (even though that would be super amazing if I did). I have to use my own utensils. And these are more treasured to me than some of my family recipes.

*Mimi’s Rolling Pin

This rolling pin is my Mimi’s from 1929. Yes, 1929! It was given to me by my Memaw about a year or so ago. I never had a rolling pin and was using an old Pam spray can as my rolling pin. I was(and still am) so in love with the rolling pin. My Mimi was a very special woman and I loved having something of hers. As my Memaw was giving it to me, I started thinking about all those biscuits she made with it. All the pie crusts. All the goodness that came out of her kitchen. I like to believe that her kitchen magic comes out in that rolling pin as I use it on my gluten-free biscuits and scones.

*Memaw’s Cast Iron Skillet

If you are not familiar with cast iron, here is a bit of information: just like silver, cast iron skillets are handed down from one generation of women to the next. Cast iron skillets must be seasoned. If you have a new skillet you must wipe some bacon grease (ultra Southern) or shortening then bake it in the oven, some people put it in a brown bag before they put it in the oven. After each time you use it, just a little soap and hot water does the trick for cleaning. You will then put more bacon grease or shortening and put it away. The more a cast iron is used, and the older it is, the more flavor is put in your dishes. You can do anything with good cast iron, make fried chicken, bake cakes, make cornbread, caramelized onions etc…This  past Christmas I was given one of  my Memaw’s skillets. I don’t know who was more excited, my husband or myself. Just like Mimi’s rolling pin, I believe her kitchen magic comes out of the cast iron skillet into my cornbread.

*My China

I didn’t register for China or crystal. I had no need to because I had a Hope Chest. Which was filled with pretty much everything my husband and I needed in the kitchen. One part of it was my china. The china is from my Memaw (catching a drift here?). It is a gorgeous Noritake pattern from the 1960s. It is antique cream with a blue trim. It has a trio of poppy’s (orange,blue, green) on it. It makes me so happy and it is a stunning set. Especially when I use my blue Noritake glasses we registered for.

So there we are.  My take on ingredients/kitchen tools. I hope this inspires you to go to the kitchen or take a look through your family recipe box. In the voice of Julia Child, “bon appetit!”

“Southerners know you can’t be considered a serious Southern cook if you don’t know how to make peach cobbler.”  – Trisha Yearwood

“Southerners equate food with love, so if you love what they cook, they’re sure to love you back.”–Kim Holloway