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Food Talk: Cyclic Return or Upward Spiral?

because being a chef is expressing a gift, and feeding a self is sacred duty

Food Talk: Cyclic Return or Upward Spiral?

My first blog, which ran for several years from 2010, was very much a food blog, primarily a low-glycemic raw-vegan blog with additional focus on herbs/weeds and locally grown foods. I posted all kinds of recipes and wildcrafting/gardening stories. I overcame my resistance to taking photographs in order to portray the food.

When I started this blog, my intention was to keep food out of it almost completely.
Now, it’s back on the table.

There were two issues: the food I prepare, and my own relationship to food. What I make for other people and what I consume myself have never been the same, which is entirely appropriate. I wouldn’t write for someone else in the same style as I write in my own voice, and people’s food requirements and preferences are even nearer and dearer than writing styles/voices.chxvegsoup 200

I’d had problems when I shared non-vegan recipes or even mentioned non-vegan foods in passing. Vegan readers would get offended. I was tired of self-censoring and didn’t have the energy to reorient my presentation away from the vegan banner.

I grew the hypothesis that not talking about food, not even making food for other people much, would help me to get over my extremely disordered eating issues. At that point, I wasn’t capable of discussing those issues in a constructive way, and when I went there, it just tended to upset people. Not helpful.

Additionally, then, as now, I didn’t have a unified blog presentation anyway--then, as now, I had all the other interests that I wanted to share. So, when I started this blog, I thought I’d cut food out of the picture completely, that perhaps those other topics could form a cohesive whole without it.

As it turns out, I look back over the past couple of years, and especially on working at the clinic the first half of this year, with making food for other people a major part of my activities, and I have to recognize that not making food for other people didn’t help with my own issues. If anything, I got worse. It's also not easy to talk about herbs without mentioning food. Medicine is food.

Yes, as I said before, this work was transformational for me because it enabled me to accept myself as my own patient and then to take care of my own unique needs.
But the fact that I got to work so closely with a variety of patients and make them the best food I could come up with to support their healing process--that was a huge part of my healing too. I got to express my gift!

I often came up with recipes on the fly, or created “healthy” versions of favorites at short notice. (By the way, this was in a tiny, very minimally equipped kitchen.) The great majority of the time, I didn’t taste my creations. I’ve always operated this way, and it was good to be reminded. The food was beautiful, and the feedback I received from the patients was food for my soul (pun intended).norirolls 200

 A food-philosophy and recipe book is in the works, by popular demand.halva 200

Initially, I didn’t treat myself like one of my patients--I didn’t really feed myself well. Sometimes I didn’t eat at all, sometimes I was ravenous and ate too much of the wrong things. But as I evolved respect for the work I was doing with the patients, and as I began to see myself as a patient, I finally came to acknowledge what’s been true all along--that my own nutritional requirements really are very unusual and very particular, and that I am in the best position to figure them out and give myself what I need.

I’m not all the way there yet, but I feel so much closer to having and getting what my particular body needs. In a beautiful, dissolving piece of compassion, I’m recognizing that there was wisdom in the anorexia that ran my life for so long--even that very tortured process carried the germ of realization of what my body actually needed. It’s good to be getting that in a more life-affirming fashion.
Expect me to share more about all of this.

About the Author

Ela Harrison

Ela is a wordsmith and herb lover who has lived in many places and currently resides in Tucson, AZ.

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