Our year-long mother and daughter pandemic project is coming to an end. It was important that we created this collection of recipes and stories of how we found balance in eating amid an eating disorder. Balance, I have learned, is not something you find; it’s something you create. And that is exactly what we were ultimately able to do. I realize that our story is unique to our set of circumstances, yet at the same time, I strongly believe that all of us can improve our way of eating to better ourselves, and equally importantly, to better the world.
Over the past year, you’ve read about how Julia had to literally relearn how to eat because her eating disorder twisted her mind into thinking that food was poison. You’ve read about how I had to reintroduce her to the foods she ate her whole life, foods she’d come to believe were the enemy. Both processes took time, patience, and lots of medical intervention so ultimately her brain could heal and she could embrace wellness. Julia and I learned so much about ourselves, nutrition, eating, and the powerful connection between our physical and mental health through this process. We needed to not only document our journey for ourselves but even more so for others who could benefit from our approach and story of recovery. Nourish has been the perfect platform during a pandemic to convey our hope, strength, and experiences to others. Given the excellent response to Nourish, we look forward to working towards getting our recipes and story out to a larger audience in the future.
The one hundred recipes we chose to share on Nourish all played a role in Julia’s refeeding. In the early days, she was able to stomach only a few of the same go-tos—mostly sweet breads and cookies—and then slowly, recipes from her childhood were added back one by one until, over the years, all one hundred became a part of her life again. While this process was ongoing, we didn’t realize how painful it was—and thank goodness for that! In retrospect, I can see how successful our slow and steady, water-on-a-stone approach was for Julia.
Now that Julia is in a solid place in recovery, her world has opened up for her. Responsibility and autonomy are what every young person craves. Mental illness took that away from Julia for many years. Her hard work—our hard work—have paid off and she discovers new freedoms every day to enjoy. It’s like the metamorphosis of a beautiful butterfly working to fly off on its own.
Before I close, I want to elaborate on my point about doing better for the world. This may be one of the most profound and unexpected outcomes from being in recovery and creating Nourish. With strong physical and mental health came, for us, a greater awareness of our impact on the world. While the COVID-19 pandemic here at home is improving, global health and climate catastrophes are worsening. We’ve been asking ourselves if there is more we can do with our eating choices to help us feel better and live better. I wrote a post about the benefits of being a vegetarian, and there are many. It still, though, contributes tremendously to the cruelty of animals in the dairy, egg, and fish industries, as well as the destruction of our environment. Julia’s eating disorder was all about fooling her and others into looking the other way so it could lead her down a deadly path. It feels like we’re doing the same thing with the heavily processed and animal-based foods we eat as a society. We know the health risks, we know the impact on the environment, and we know how we’re killing innocent animals on a massive scale, and yet we do it anyway.
One of Julia’s freedoms from anorexia has been her choice to go vegan. In the past few months alone, she’s gone off all of her medications, reached a place of mental wellness, and shifted to a whole food plant-based diet, and it has been profound for her. Gone are her allergies. Gone is her asthma. Gone are her aches and pains. Gone is her insomnia. Added are high energy, stable recovery, better self-image, a great conscious, and the ability to compete in sports. She’s now adding her voice to stopping the many stigmas out there, as well as stopping the cruelty towards animals. Finding balance through eating is fueling all those causes. As her parents, we are embracing the understanding that we, good-hearted, decade-long vegetarians, can do more to make a difference in this world by becoming plant-based as well. We made the change, and you can too!
Nourish has been a phenomenal first step for us. We hope you have been enjoying the ride. I’ll end with the thought that maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.