Open for Discussion Q&A

Jesse asked me a very thought-provoking question, which I thought was very important to post it publicly and let it be open for discussion. This is what she asked:

“Recovery is a looooooong road with potholes here and there… i.e. relapses. When ED’s voice is annoyingly strong…what keeps you going? When you fall down, how do you pick yourself up instead of sliding backwards?”

  • Before I give my own answer, I need to remind all of you that I am in the recovery process of an eating disorder myself, so please do not take my answer as “expert” or “professional” advice. This is just an answer based upon my experiences in the course of my struggles, and I would be very appreciative and interested to hear your own suggestions and experiences on this.

My answer:

“Recovery is indeed a bitch, ain’t it? It’s not a simple wound that can be treated or a cold that goes away after a few bowls of chicken soup. Just like it took a long process for our minds to become more and more disordered, it’s also a long, slow process for our minds to detangle itself from all the disordered accusations and obsessions that has encroached our every thoughts, speech, and actions. But first of all, what is recovery?

Recovery, I realized, is not just about gaining weight, or eating a bit more/less, or even stopping all binging and purging. Recovery is about getting to the root of the problem, and that is simply our inability to love ourselves and to be satisfied/thankful for what we have now. You can’t truly recover unless you address these two underlying problems which caused the eating disorder in the first place. Unfortunately, being able to love ourselves and be thankful for everything is a lifelong process and a lifetime goal, something with which practically everybody else in the world struggles, whether they have an eating disorder or not. People express their symptoms in different ways. I just happened to express them through my eating.

That said, I found out that what’s more important than achieving the goal of recovery is actually the whole process of recovery. Yes, I have a specific goal in mind, a picture of myself free and happy from my eating disorder as my ultimate source of motivation, but I get my practical, consistent feed of strength and will-power from the daily progress of recovery. What keeps me going is the overwhelming joy and triumph I feel from the little steps I make each day towards the positive direction, no matter how teeny they are. There truly is nothing that tastes sweeter than victory, and I delight in each and every single little victory that I can reap. Why? Because they give me hope. Hope is key in recovery. Without hope there can be no victory.

In a way life is a constant battlefield, and each day is filled with its own challenges and trials, so I just try to focus on one day a a time, for each day has enough worries of its own.

But! You have first got to accept the fact that there will be times of failures. I’m not perfect. Hell, if I were, I wouldn’t be human in the first place, I would be up there playing ping-pong with God. As I said, recovery is learning to love yourself, so beating yourself up for a moment of weakness is just going to spiral you in the opposite direction of recovery. In fact, that’s the worst thing you can ever do. ED loves to prey on your guilt to accuse you, dishearten you, and ultimately convince you that the fight is fruitless and useless. I know, because I’ve relapsed before. I let my own guilt tear away all my remaining hope, and told myself, Why bother? Why get all tired and weary over a fruitless fight? Might as well surrender and just accept that I will have ED in my life no matter what, and live as comfortably as I can in my little ED bubble until I die. Needless to say, I fell even deeper into my eating disordered world and ended up in a worse state than before.

So when you find yourself giving up to temptation and having a slip-up, just tell yourself: “It’s okay. I fell once, but what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger. Tomorrow is a fresh new day. I still have many more days full of opportunities to be successful ahead. No point in wasting all my time and energy crying over split milk when there are greater and better challenges ahead.”

Last but not least, my ultimate source of encouragement and comfort is God. I cannot imagine leading my life without Him. He is a firm, unwavering pillar in my life, for no matter how much my circumstances and situations may change, I know for certain that His unconditional love and glorious plans for me will never change. I do not intend to try to evangelize here, but I’m just stating my honest opinion and experiences, and I highly recommend getting in touch with your spiritual side. We humans are not just made of temporary, aging flesh, but also of everlasting spirits.

I wish you all the best on your fight, Jesse, that you will never lack in hope, spirit, motivation, and strength and that you will come out all the more stronger and wiser from this whole process.”

So that’s my personal take on recovery. Thank you, Jesse, for asking this wonderful question. It has been awfully helpful in making me think and reflect more on the elements, essentials, and insights of not just recovery but life in general. I like this question so much I think I may post this several times so I can receive more feedback from all of you out there. So please, share your own opinions, experiences, suggestions, or advices in the comment page. Leave it anonymously or just e-mail me if you want to, but I think an open sharing on this will be beneficial to many, and not just to the ones with an eating disorder. Everyone struggles with these issues.

And also, if you don’t mind, please mention this topic in your blog so that we can get more participants in this discussion.

Phew! That’s enough philosophy and analyzing for today. On to the more casual stuff…FOOD!

Remember my Green Pilaf? Well, I might have bought a bit too much cilantro for my cilantro “pesto” and I knew I had to use them up before they withered away in the fridge. So I decided to experiment making green sauces again.

I was in the mood for a sandwich, so I wanted something that would spread well on toast and be versatile enough to complement different fillings. And of course being too lazy to look up for a recipe, I just threw a whole bunch of random stuff together to make (so the measurements are just an estimate)…

Cilantro-coconut spread

  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1/4 small green bell pepper
  • a few pieces of pineapple
  • a small wedge of mango
  • lime juice from 1 small lime
  • 1 tsp each sweetener, salt
  • pinch of garam marsala

I just dumped all the ingredients into my Magic Bullet and blended away until smooth. This made a pretty big quantity, and I stored some away into an empty jam jar:
Look at that lovely GREEN! How can you not love something so deliciously green?

I spread a heaping amount of this cilantro-coconut spread onto two pieces of whole wheat bread. I topped one piece with roasted winter squash, and the other with black beans and raw red onions:

And then I slapped the two together and toasted them up on a skillet to make this:

What a combination! This was another great yin-yang combo, what with the fresh, sharp tropical jolt from the cilantro-coconut combo, mixed with the warm, autumn flavor of the squash and beans.

To tell the truth, I got a bit uptight about the high amount of carbs in ratio to protein in this sandwich, but then I figured that I need all the energy I can get from carbs to get my brain pumping for more creative ideas in the kitchen.
So it all works out good…
And super delicious.

Lunch today, however, was not meant to be innovative at all. I just simply wanted to get rid of all the little scraps in the fridge. I had random bits and bites of black beans, squash, bell pepper, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and pineapple leftover, all taking up tons of space in the fridge. Also, I could tell that they were all close to expiry, and I hate to throw food away. So I decided to slap them all together into a single dish, and came up with this idea:

Trop-Mex Shepherd’s Pie

I just basically did the same Trop-Mex filling for the souffle-omelet I made here, but tripled the quantity, and added mushrooms and chicken sausages to the mix, while omitting the mango and cilantro.

Since I’ve already posted the recipe for this, I’ll just quickly list out all the ingredients that went into this: onions, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomato, tomato sauce, black beans, roasted squash, chicken sausages, pineapple, cumin, lime juice, salt, pepper.

Whew! What a truckload of flavors! But to jazz it up even more, I started messing with the traditional mashed potato that crowns every shepherd’s pie:

Green Mashed Potatoes

First I boiled and mashed 4 huge potatoes, then added:

  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • spoonful of my cilantro-coconut spread
  • chopped green onion
  • salt & pepper

I then dumped the Trop-Mex filling into a baking dish, spooned the green mashed potatoes on top, and then scattered 1/2 cup cheddar cheese on top:
In the oven it went…
And out it came looking and smelling heavenly!
I could barely wait to spoon out a big hunk for myself:
WHAT A FIESTA of flavors! The ingredient list was quite long, but none of the ingredients were extraneous. I thought every single one of them played a crucial part in this dish.
I just get a kick out of adding pineapples to everything. They add such a juicy, zesty bite!
I also really liked how the cumin added just the right touch of smokiness to the dish.
Don’t you just love the green hue of the potatoes? I wish it could have been greener, but I didn’t want to overdo with the cilantro-coconut flavor. I still wanted my potatoes to taste like potatoes!
DSC02467 DSC02468
Not only was this a freaking delicious lunch, it also cleared out all the leftovers I mentioned above! Hooray for a clean fridge! Now I get to go and fill it up again with fresher stuff.

Oh, and another great news:

Selba and Christina presented me with this award:
Yay! I pass it on to Jesse and NotanotherOmnivore.

Wow. This is yet another freaking long post. Mainly because of my long response to Jesse’s question. But totally worth it, in my opinion.

No question of the day for today, except another pleading reminder for your comments, experiences, advice, and suggestions in regards to today’s Q&A!!!

P.S. Tales of Expansion is having a great giveaway! uh-uh, not telling, check it out for yourself here!

61 responses to “Open for Discussion Q&A

  1. Thanks for answering my question! I’m going to try and find some pistachio cheese back here in the States.

    Your post today is so inspiring! The whole “inability to love ourselves” is 100% fact. I read over my journals from ED time and everything there is hate, hate, hate! Recovery means love and ED doesn’t like love.
    So pass the love around! <3

    Yummy eats! They are sooo creative.

    Have a nice day!

  2. ooh your eats are always so creative, sophie!

    i am so proud of you for sharing that. it’s difficult, but you’ve stayed so strong and have really inspired many people.

  3. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery, and that you help people by sharing it here.

    The food looks great.

  4. WOW! All of that is completely inSANE! That sandwich…WOAH!

  5. That sandwich looks awesome!!

  6. Thank you for answering my question. It’s meant so much to me, especially since now that I’ve tripped over a pothole myself.

    “We humans are not just made of temporary, aging flesh, but also of everlasting spirits.” This is such a beautiful line… I’ve jotted it down in my recovery notebook and I will treasure your words for a very long time.

    On a lighter note… playing ping-pong with God? Really? If I were perfect, I’d be playing.. hmm, World of Warcraft with GOd probably. Hehehe.

  7. What does not kill us, makes us stronger…has been a motto for my husband and myself, for many many years.
    May you continue to recovery and have HOPE!

  8. I love all the bright colors in your food!

    Thank you for being so candid about your ED. I think your blog will help a lot of other people are going through the same thing.

    And KUDOS on the award!

  9. Umm OMG I just saw the award. AHH!! *skipping around with joy* THANK YOU!!!!!

  10. I don’t completely understand ED, but I am learning so much from you and Jesse. You both are in my thoughts and prayers. You have so much going for you, to me, you are such a young and vibrant life force, don’t ever shrink from that. Ok enough of my “mom” stuff…

    Your sandwich just blows my mind…it say SPRING to me. It’s so bright and colorful.

  11. thanks for sharing your deep thoughts about your recovery! I’ve never had serious ED but struggled about eating/weight issue many times, so I totally understand how tough is to change some behavior and actually treat us well!
    Great sandwich combo!!! YUM YUM~~~

  12. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I completely agree with you- that recovery is not just about what you are doing with food but how you feel about yourself. Im definitely loving your eats. Yumm

  13. I am definitely going to try that spread!! Yum-O!

  14. Good luck with your recovery…it sounds like you are on the right pathway.

  15. oysterculture

    Congrats on the award. Your cilantro coconut spread sounds incredible and I cannot wait to try it – I love the wonderful combination of flavors you identified.

  16. I agree with you — it’s a process. Whenever I make recovery a “project” with a specific “goal,” I set myself up for failure, which re-triggers the cycle of self-hate. Forgiveness and acceptance are #1.
    Your food always looks so good!

  17. GREAT post, I really enjoyed reading it! that sandwich sounds amazing, as does that bake… shoot, now i’m hungry :-P

  18. ps- i’ve never tried cooking jicama, but now i’m intrigued so i may have to try it :)

  19. First off, you are incredibly brave and inspiring…thank you for sharing your story and taking the time to engage in this dialouge.

    Secondly…that sandwich…is so beautiful…I cried a little at my desk. My co-worker is freaked.

    Thirdly…thanks for the comment on my blog! I really appreciate it!

  20. You are a very intelligent and well spoken human bean and have a great philosophy about your disease. Go you!

    You eat some of the most interesting combinations, it freaks me out. I am the kind of person who cant stand food to touch, LOL!

    p.s. I am a horrific burper, I gross my poor husband out, and I enjoy it!

  21. eatlivelovedream

    Love your willingness to be so open and honest.
    Fabulous eats my dear!

  22. i love all the flavors you have put into this spread!

  23. Recovering of an eating disorder isn’t easy at all. Multiple factors must take in account to be healthy again.
    Hope you’re ok 100% nowadays and keep up with it!!
    Take care of oneself is the key in these cases :D

    Stunning recipe and photos all delicious. Congrats for your new platform and award too :)

    All the best for you!

  24. I belive someone so intelligent (and who have a great taste in food) like you, are going to do just fine with recovery, specially with the help of God?! ;) C’mon you can take on anything… happy burping :)

  25. Here’s a big hug dear girl…You have a strong mind and that should help you overcome anything negative that may come your way…Lovely looking sandwich…And about my indian recipes, will try and simplify them for you :)

  26. All of this food looks delicious! What a beautiful post. I know that my sister continues to have her ups and downs. I think at the end of the day, the fear of having to go back to Arizona for treatment keeps her somewhat straightened out. She hated the feeding tube up her nose, the constant monitoring of everything she did, and the lack of privacy (no bathroom doors, etc.). I think rehab serves as a big deterrent. I also think she knows that in the height of her sickness, she wasn’t herself at all. Between tantrums and fainting spells, she was so angry and severely unhappy. I think that’s a place she wants to completely avoid if she can. Now, all that said, she’s still extremely self-conscious and has little self-esteem, but surrounding herself with positive people who love her and can remind her how wonderful she is helps somewhat. I’m so proud of you for how far you’ve come. Keep strong. I’m always here if you ever need anything (I know you don’t know me, but still…).

  27. The cilantro-coconut spread sounds really awesome! And love the idea of the Trop-Mex Shepherd’s Pie! Very creative recipes!

  28. That spread is very interesting and seems tasty. What a healthy sandwich, yummy! And the Shepherd’s Pie is just so scrumptious looking…



  29. Great post, it’s not easy to overcome something like that, and it sounds like you have a wonderful perspective on the topic. The food looks amazing too!

  30. Thanks for stopping by, so glad you did.
    The empanadas are very easy to make and quick. I’m up for all things quick and yummy.
    I have also made them without the chicken and they are just as good and even quicker to make. Make some you’ll be happy you did, I was.
    Anyway, glad to know you. I’ll be reading your older posts to get up-to-date.

  31. Your cilantro spread looks delish! How inventive!

    Love that you are keeping so strong — so inspiring ;)

  32. Ah! thanks so much for the award!

    I think the question was awesome and so was your answer. As you may have realized today is the 1st which means it’s Eating Disorder Series day on my blog. I had another topic in mind, but maybe I will try to promote this post over here instead….I’ll let you know what I figure out late tonight!


  33. Holy shit, your sandwich looked amazing. Wow. Recovery IS a BITCH. But we’re gettin’ through it.
    Love always,

  34. I have faith in you and your recovery! It does get hard sometimes, and it certainly sucks a lot of the time, but as your creative sandwich shows, it can also be fun sometimes.

    Just want to say thank you for stopping by my blog, and I hope you’re having a great day.

  35. Very inspirational post – I think it’s wonderful that you are brave and confident enough to share your experiences with others on your blog. I wish you all the best with your recovery!

    And, your cilantro-coconut spread looks really delicious!

  36. You’re in my prayers!

    You’re right about those bunny grahams..I really don’t think there is too much nutritional value in them. But they come in fun shapes. :-)

    I love your sandwich and want to eat it right now!

  37. I loved reading this – your words are so honest and encouraging. I’ve been thinking a lot about strengthening my faith lately; my mom says that it’s helped her tremendously in hard times (and in good times). I think I struggle with the idea of trusting someone completely, and knowing that God is someone that we can place all of our trust in is something that’s hard for me to wrap my mind around…but I’m working on it. If you have any books or resources that have been helpful, I’d love to hear about them – you can e-mail me directly at

    Your eats today are fabulous and creative, as always…I have a feeling you’ll get a cookbook deal one of these days chica!


  38. Great post, it was very honest and interesting to see your perspective :) As for your recipes, they look and sound delicious!

  39. you have a magic bullet? I am so jealous!!!!

  40. I really dont have much to say on this topic, but I’m happy to hear that yo’re on the road to recovery! You are very inspriring.

    Also, that sadwich looks awesome.

  41. Holy yum! All your foods and creations look amazing. I esp. love that sandwich. I love how you answered this question–I am so happy for you and proud of you. Have a great night! <3 jess :)

  42. I think that your response about recovery is the best possible. It has been several years since I struggled with eating enough but I guess that I am not yet fully recovered because I still can’t trust myself to diet. Even though I now actually need to lose weight (something which was not the case during the years when I wouldn’t eat enough) I know that I have to be careful to insure that every food/exercise choice is directed at health rather than weight/looks.

    Just from my experience, it is freeing to accept that one will probably never achieve food innocence again. There is always the underlying possibility of food being a trap. I’ve gotten to the point where reading/talking about this sort of thing is fine for me, but for a few years I could not even allow myself to think about it or else I would just be sucked back into all the unhealthy thoughts and choices.

    In the end you are right: there is hope. Even if things will never be perfectly smooth, they can and must get better. Eventually one finds oneself going for longer and longer without struggling with food and other things become more important. And that is so good!

  43. Yo girl!

    I answered your call on my blog, let me know what you think!


  44. Recovery is really tough..but what makes it a lot easier is to find something better in your life, anything, a small thing and be happy and blessed for that! :) thats what ive done recently and it has made it tons better.

    n all that food looks just delicious!

  45. Green mashed potato? Wooohooooo…. looks so delicious!

  46. Recovery:

    What keeps me going?

    Memories of the past, pictures of who I was. I see pictures of myself in the depths of ED, the ultimate sickness. I am shocked at how sickly I look anymore. I remember the fear, the hopelessness, the severity of depression I imposed on myself. At the time I was drowning, on the brink of death, trying to figure out why the heck I felt so strange, so sad, so crazy.

    It was obvious it was because I wasn’t eating, nutruting myself, treating myself with respect, but I just didn’t have the mental capacity at the time to even understand that.

    Coming out of it all, I’ve the improvements I have made. I love myself, my body, my attitude, and my positive outlook of the future. I couldn’t have any of that in the grips of another ED.

    When I feel weak, I remember the pain, I look at the pictures, I remind myself how much better off I am now. How much hope I have, how much of a future I would sacrifice going back.

    I know I still have a ways to go in recovery, but my disorder has lessened drastically. My disorder is fading. I am proud of that. I brag about that to myself, it keeps me on track for the most part.

    I love life to much to let ED pull me under the water again.


  47. Dannng. First of all, this is a great post and applies to people who DON’T have ED or aren’t recovering as well, so THANK YOU. Everyone needs to learn to love themselves a little more and not be so judgemental.

    Secondly, THAT is definitely the most crative sandwich I have seen in a VERY VERY long time! I gotta try it!

  48. Mmm, I love cilantro AND coconut. That green stuff definitely got my attention!

  49. Mmm everything looks great! You ALWAYS have the most original flavorful dishes! I love the answer you gave about what keeps you going. And the part about not being perfect otherwise you’d be playing ping pong up there with God…so funny! I agree that it’s important not to give up if we slip up. Recovery will not be without setbacks and disappointments, even when we think we’re doing well sometimes an ED behavior will creep back in, but we just have to keep our eye on the prize and continue working hard! Tomorrow is always a fresh start :)

  50. Recovery can be such a long process in many ways , for me as well. It took me a long time to figure out what I was really getting from the ED, why it was continuing and what it was that caused me to be in that position. I tried to fight myself out of the ED and that worked for a little while, then it was major “relapse” and reminded me that I was still struggling with those deep issues. When I had a GOOD SUPPORT system, safe people to go to, and I focused on all of what was fueling the ED, I could actually begin to recover.

    Recovery is life, and life is not easy, but its worth living.

    I would tell myself that when I had a rough time, and I would talk about what was truly bothering me ( any little thing at first, then bigger problems) to safe friends and family that I could trust, and I allowed myself to “be” … to be NOT perfect, to be screwed up, to be capable of recovery, to be capable of loving myself despite my mistakes in the past.

    That was longer than I thought it would be.
    re : Kale on my sammy on my blog: I ripped it up post-photo and it went well with the mustard and the ham since it already has a mustard-green kinda flavor. I prefer kale as crispy “chips” but I had to get in a veggie on the way to class and that was all I had!

  51. Recovery to me is acquiring your balance. Also, if plotted on a graph, recovery doesn’t look like a straight line always pointing upwards. It wiggles and jiggles but on the whole moves toward the sky :)

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  53. Recovery is a tough topic because, to me at least, it’s a lifelong thing. Even though I can eat normally now and don’t have food-related panic attacks, I still think about ED every day. Sometimes it’s in a good way – I think about how far I’ve come and how many achievements I have made. I think about past successes in which I have eaten things that have scared me, even if they weren’t on my plan for the day. And sometimes I DO have those ED moments where someone suggests going out somewhere to eat or to a party or to bake something and my mind immediately tries to think of an excuse as to why I can’t go or take part in the activity, just so I can avoid having to eat things that are out of my control. Whenever that happens, I remind myself that it’s okay to have these thoughts, as long as I don’t act on them and often I just close my eyes, mentally think of myself pushing ED out of my head, and smile and tell the person that it’s a good idea. I also try to put myself in situations that scare me, in which I will have to be around food, such as organizing an ice cream party at work this summer, baking a cake for one of my friend’s birthdays, or suggesting to my roommate that we go get dessert/ice cream. I know that the more I expose myself to these things and prove to myself that I will live through them, the easier living with(out) ED will get.

    Honestly, I haven’t yet had any moments of complete regression but I never let myself get to the point where I was unhealthily underweight and so I never really had too much weight to gain. When I WAS trying to gain back like 5 lb, it was really hard for me and I struggled every day to tell myself that I wasn’t “fat”. I know that I have body dysmorphia, which doesn’t help the situation. Also, as far back as I can remember, my reaction to food has always been to restrict it. When I was in eighth grade, I stopped eating breakfast and lunch in order to lose weight. When my first bf broke up with me, the first thing I thought was that I would stop eating so that I would get skinny and he would want me back. I know that this is just how my mind is wired, and so ED is something that I will probably have to struggle with indefinitely. A large part of it, for me, though is knowing that I will have those moments and that it is okay, as long as I also remember to talk some sense into myself once they are over. We can’t expect to always be perfect or ED-free – it’s unrealistic, but we can try to just make each moment/day as ED-free as possible and to get back up when we slip and fall down.

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  56. That cilantro coconut spread sounds divine!! And the sandwich you made looks so good…I would have never thought to pair up all those ingredients :) Oh and it’s good that you’re writing openly about the challenges of an ED…you’re an inspiration to all!

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  58. Pingback: confession #2 « whole foods for whole me.

  59. Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

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