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Coming Out: Eating Disorders, Veganism, Sobriety and Depression

2 Sep

Note: I did not realize that I hadn’t posted this entry from 2014! It expands upon some of the things I spoke about on my post from 9/2/16. 

“All addicts, regardless of the substance or their social status share a consistent and obvious symptom; they’re not quite present when you talk to them. They communicate to you through a barely discernible but unignorable veil. Whether a homeless smack head troubling you for 50p for a cup of tea or a coked-up, pinstriped exec foaming off about his speedboat, there is a toxic aura that prevents connection. They have about them the air of elsewhere, that they’re looking through you to somewhere else they’d rather be. And of course they are. The priority of any addict is to anaesthetise the pain of living to ease the passage of the day with some purchased relief.”–Russell Brand

I have not written in quite a long time on this blog. I took a hiatus and was *sort of* working on a few other blogs, but mostly? Honestly? I have been intensely wrestling with a lot of heavy shit and not practicing yoga. Although I speak a lot about recovery on this blog, I am not always super clear and honest about how much I have struggled with bulimia and  intense depression since I got sober in 2007. I don’t even think I could admit to myself how much I had been struggling, and things had gotten especially tough with the bulimia since I moved to Austin in 2012. I finally broke down and admitted that things had gotten really bad and that I needed professional help outside of 12 step recovery. This was so hard for me. I was in total denial about both the bulimia and the depression. I kept trying to work my 12 step prgrams “harder”. And I kept getting worse. So yes, I am outing myself right now: I am in treatment for both an eating disorder and major depressive disorder and I am getting the help I need. If this blog post can help anyone out there to seek help, I figure it is worth it.

I am also outing myself again: I am still vegan. Veganism is not a part of my eating disorder. I am not longing for animal products and forcing myself to not eat them. I am not secretly bingeing on animal products and then purging (my dietitian asked me about that point blank the other day). During one of my first meetings with my therapist, she expressed her concern about my veganism. I explained to her that I do not feel my eating disorder and veganism are at all connected.  Veganism is not a way to restrict or control my food. Veganism is about living in a way that reduces harm to animals and people. She listened to me and then asked me something that I think I will never forget: What about harm to you? That stopped me dead in my tracks. And I suddenly had an image of geese being forcibly fattened for fois gras. I am basically stuffing myself forcibly and then forcing myself to purge. How is bulimia consistent with my ahimsa, my living without harm? It’s not. This was both a horrible and an awesome moment for me, because that was the moment where I realized that I really do not want to do this to myself anymore. I felt simultaneous hope and despair—hope that I can get better, and despair about letting go of the eating disorder that has been with me since I was a teenager. I have no idea what recovery looks like. I didn’t know what being sober would look like when I stopped drinking, either. I had to take it on faith from my sponsor and other sober people that I could get and stay sober and that I would have a much better life. And what that life would look like would remain a mystery for awhile. I think my life without Cruella (that’s what I call my eating disorder these days) is a very mysterious proposition, but I just keep telling myself it’s going to be OK.

 

 

 

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Vegan MoFo PMA Burgers: Engine 2 Pumpkin/Mushroom/Adzuki Burgers

18 Oct

I’m sick of paying 6 dollars a box for Sunshine Burgers. I love them, but I am calling shenanigans. The Engine 2 website has a great post with a sort of master make-your-own-veggie- burger “matrix”:

http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/simple-guide-to-plant-strong-burgers/

I used this to come up with my own fall-themed burger. I’m on a pumpkin rampage, people!

PMA burgers: Pumpkin, Mushroom, Adzuki Bean/Positive Mental Attitude Burger

(best made while listening to Bad Brains!)

2 tbs ground flax seeds

1 can Eden adzuki beans, drained and mashed

1 cup cooked, diced mushrooms (portobello or porcini work really well)

1 tsp tamari

1 tasp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 cup bread crumbs of your choice (hint: 2 slices toasted Ezekiel bread in the Vitamix makes exactly enough!)

1 tsp chives

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp nutritional yeast

3 shakes smoked paprika

4 twists fresh ground black pepper

2 tbs non-dairy milk of your choice

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Sautee the finely chopped mushrooms with tamari and Worcestershire sauce and a little water so they don’t stick. Set aside. Mix flax seeds with 3 tbs warm water and set aside. Drain and rinse your adzuki beans. Mash your adzuki beans in a large bowl, then add bread crumbs. Mix and add mushrooms, then add your pumpkin, flax seed mixture and spices. Add the non-dairy milk last. Mixture should be sticky and firm enough to make patties with your hands. Form six evenly shaped patties and place on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and flip them over. Bake ten more minutes and then eat them up!

Engine 2 Vegan BBQ MoFo Lunch Box

16 Oct

 

 

This took me under 30 minutes to make. Oil-free, totally plant-based, from scratch and yummy! The cornbread is the recipe from Happy Herbivore (go buy it, you won’t be sorry). I marinated 6 ounces of Wildwood firm sprouted tofu in BBQ sauce and then grilled them on the stovetop. Cooked greens are a mainstay of my diet. I try to eat at least 4 cups a day of them. They are magic! Here’s the recipe for my greens:

By Any Greens Necessary:

1 tbs minced garlic

3/4 cup veggie broth

1 cup mushrooms of your choice (I love shiitake)

2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

4 cups any rinsed, drained greens, torn into pieces. I used rainbow chard in the picture, but you can use kale, collards, mustard greens, dandelion greens, spinach or bok choy in any combination. I am particularly fond of mustard/dinosaur kale/collards together.

Sautee the mushrooms and garlic in the broth for about 2 minutes. Add the greens and the Worcestershire sauce and cook until wilted but still bright green.

Variation: add a dab of dijon mustard and hickory smoke sauce. If you really want an exciting twist, vegan bacon bits or tempeh bacon with a dab of dijon is super excellent.

I will be eating this tomorrow while my poor coworkers eat Carl’s Jr and Chinese take out. I always offer to share!

Vegan MoFo: Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

13 Oct

 

Man, I love me some pumpkin. Except for pie, shockingly…but give it to me in anything else and I am a happy, happy chica.

I know smoothies are now a no-no on Engine 2, but I am follow-the-spirit-of-the-law kinda’ gal…actually, f&ck laws. I like smoothies, I am still losing weight while indulging in them occasionally at home and if I want to have one with breakfast, I will. Dammit. I try to avoid the sugary fruit bomb kind of smoothies because they are too sweet for my sweet Kapha self. In the spirit of everything Fall and Pumpkin-y, here’s my current fave—look Ma, no fruit or added sugars!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 scoop Sun Warrior Warrior Blend protein powder (or any vegan, vanilla flavored protein)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

alternative sweetner to taste

crushed ice to your desired thickness

5 shakes pumpkin pie spice (I like Frontier)

1 tsp. vanilla

Blend and suck it down!

Engine 2 Chocolate Dipping Sauce for Fruit…and Pretzels…and Fingers!

5 Oct

 

I wanted dessert in a serious way tonight. So here it is:

It is, after all, the Vegan MoFo—vegan month of FOOD for us denizens of the vegan blog-o-sphere.  I don’t usually partake, but I have been so busy traveling, working and doing conventions that I haven’t had much time to cook. Tonight, cooking sounded super exciting. Not that using my Vitamix really qualifies as “cooking”, I suppose!

E2 Chocolate Dipping Sauce

1 package lite firm Mori-nu silken tofu

1/4 cup agave

2 packets Truvia

3 tbs Wonderslim cocoa powder

Throw it all in the Vitamix and blend until smooth. You could make it a little thinner if you like very drizzly sauce, and thicker if you like pudding.

Makes 23 1 tbs servings. According to myfitnesspal (if you care about these things), here are the stats: 18 cal/0 gm fat/3 gm carbs/1 g protein

You could also probably dip strawberries in the sauce, lay them out on parchment paper and freeze them for a little while. Banana slices done that way would probably be awesome! Or even whole bananas on a stick rolled in nuts and then frozen…yeah, I’m not having some kind of peri-menopausal chocolate freakout here or anything!

Herbivore or Vegan? Say it Loud, Say it Proud!

16 Sep

 

I’ll just come clean: I really don’t like calling myself a vegan lately. It seems like when I finally “out” myself to someone, I’m met with a look of horror or derision. Or I get the, “don’t you feel upset that you are killing all of those plants?” question. Or the, “I could never do that!” statement. Then there’s the other side of the coin: the Vegan Police…fellow vegans who critique me for a million and one reasons. They don’t like that I work for a non-vegan company or that I live with omnivores and frequently date omnivores . They scrutinize my shoes (yup, they’re vegan), scrunch their noses up because I eat at restaurants where meat is served and have to take medications that are not vegan. I do my best, but I can’t live in a 100% vegan bubble. I would love to work for a vegan company and I would really love to not have to take medication every day. However, that is not happening anytime soon (especially the medication). I try to act with compassion and conscience and practice the principle of non-harming in all of my affairs. I always go back to what one of my earliest vegan role models, Joanne Stepaniak, says about the issue:

“Because there are no perfect alternatives for every animal-based item, vegans must choose to tread as lightly as possible by selecting the most compassionate choices available. The amount of animal ingredients used in some plastics is trifling when compared with true animal commodities, such as leather, wool, or down, which directly fuel the continual slaughter of animals. After a while, it becomes exhausting and nonsensical to dissect the microscopic elements of our lives and rifle through every last belonging in search of the elusive animal ingredient. What would be the point? Purity? Consonance? Moral righteousness?

As vegans, we must confront the fact that our world, our options, and even our own actions are fallible. As much as we may want to be fastidious in our elimination of animal-based commodities, there are realistic considerations that make this impractical. From the perspective of compassion, economic impact, and the ability to inspire change and create a demand for genuinely humane products, our present-day substitutes, despite their drawbacks, are far superior to commodities that represent obvious suffering and death.” 

Lately I’ve been thinking that I’ll just start calling myself an herbivore if anyone asks me. So when the kind folks at Vegan Cuts asked me to start reviewing vegan products that they are featuring on their website (a vegan version of groupon? it’s about time!), I initially felt torn. I try not to make my blog this in-your-face vegan blog. But yeah, I’m a vegan, dammit. I read labels. I only buy cruelty-free products. I have Happy Cow bookmarked on my phone. I special order my freaking vegan vitamins even though I work for a vitamin company. But I want to stay in the closet about being vegan 99% of the time!

So imagine my surprise when the first item I get to review was this extremely cute necklace from Design Specimen:

That’s right: HERBIVORE. I love it! I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it.

Here’s the vegan design:

from vegancuts.com. Cute!

http://vegancuts.com/company/design-specimen

My readers can get a discount at vegancuts.com if they use the code BLOGFRIEND –  Save an additional 10% off your order, doesn’t apply to shipping, expires Oct 31/12.

Being vegan has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I celebrated my two year vega-a-versary on August 16th. This is me two years ago:

Me on my 40th birthday with my sister-in-law

And here is me two years later:

I feel healthier and happier at 42 than I did when I was 22. This was me at 22:

Me, 22, Baltimore, MD

Ironically, I will be in Baltimore next week for a trade show. I’m going to have to take a picture so we can have a side-by-side 20 year comparison! It’s the inner transformation I wish I could somehow capture for people to easily see–I am so different now that it’s crazy. Being vegan and living a really clean life full of yoga, metta meditation, heavy metal and love: it’s revolutionized me on every level.

Your Body Is Not A Wonderland, It’s A Wasteland

9 Aug

I’ve been thinking a lot about the very Western fascination with “detox” lately and way it intersects with yoga practice. I have mixed feelings. The health food freak in me (hey, I worked for Whole Foods Market for 17 flipping years—I can’t help it!) likes the idea of organic produce, lots of water and green juices/smoothies. Then part of me is like, why not all of the time? Why do I need to “detox” just so I can “retox” at a later date? My biggest so-called-“vices” are the occasional bag of Pop Chips, vegan pizza and coffee. If I’m in a situation where other people are drinking “festively”, I have been known to drink Diet Coke. Burn me at the stake! I saw an article on Elephant Journal the other day with a pic of what happens to your innards when you drink soda that nearly made my eyes bulge out. I got this image from the blog littlebitbetter.org:

It’s obvious that eating, drinking and slathering your body with lots of toxic crap is not practicing ahimsa. Hurts you, hurts the environment, hurts other animals and humans. But the hysterical prudishness and rhetoric behind most of the “Detox” diets, websites, books and e-books just leaves me with a bad, toxic taste in my mouth. A lot of it just seems like thinly veiled anti-fat, “obesity epidemic” hatred.

And, quite frankly, some of it just doesn’t make any damn sense. There’s a lot of woo-woo BS that gets touted as nutritional fact and I am just not down with that. Just disregard my love of Ayurveda and TCM here for a minute and bear with me, OK? I recently picked up a copy of Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution at the lovely Las Vegas library (our library system ROCKS!). Part of me wants to buy what she’s selling hook, line, and vegan sinker. She’s so cute and healthy looking and I like the color of her book. And the green smoothie recipe looks really good! But then I had to dig a little more and look at what she actually wants me to DO.

For Phase One of her plan (“Blossoming Beauty”), she wants me to drink hot lemon water and take some probiotics when I first wake up. WTF is the deal with all of these alternative health gurus and lemons? There are 2.4 million studies on Pub Med alone. Do any of the studies reference the miraculous alkaline power of an acidic citrus fruit? If you find this information, please email me immediately. I did find some interesting studies on Citrus species and a drug made from them for sickle cell anemia, however. Very interesting. I will have to do some more digging on this topic because it has been seriously nagging me for years.

Next on this phase, I get to eat “two or three” celery sticks and dry toast for breakfast. But only if I am hungry. Seriously? Lunch is kale salad and soup (rice crackers optional) and snack is, you guessed it, raw veggies. Yay! Dinner is more salad with oil free dressing and either fish (ewww) or a alkaline grain veggie burger. Then, this is the kicker: “LATE NIGHT: if you experience cravings, have herbal tea with stevia or more veggie sticks dipped in Sally’s Salsa or Green Bean Miso Dip.” “If” I experience cravings? It’s more like when. All I have to say is that someone would be getting HURT if that was how I had to eat every day. Cravings? Ya think? Just writing this made me hungry!

I’m sure there’s plenty in this book that is useful information. I just can’t get past the starvation part. The total caloric content of the food I listed above? 913 calories, with the optional extra carrot sticks at night. I would be diving head first into a vegan pizza followed by a bag of Uncle Eddie’s, I can see it now. So I will continue on my merry way, making my body toxic in the morning with coffee before my Ashtanga practice and eating lots of healthy vegan stuff for the rest of the day. In the meantime, I do not feel like my body is a wonderland (screw you, John Mayer) or a wasteland. It’s just my human, imperfect, and awesome body. I try to honor the temple as much as I can and treat it with gratitude, respect and love.

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