Recovery Kitchen

[Ed. note: trigger warning for discussion of eating disorders.]Food, glorious food! Right? In many cases, sure. In my case, almost as far from the truth as you could possibly get. I can recognize the value of food, and I can appreciate people who are able to do amazing things with it. But I would like nothing more than to never have to make another decision about food in my life.For a long time, I really liked cooking. After moving out of my parents’ house, I found a lot of enjoyment in perusing cookbooks over the weekend and planning menus for the week ahead. Doing so didn’t change the fact that I was always anxious about my weight, my body image, and the kinds of foods I was eating, but at that point I wasn’t so hampered by those concerns that the idea of shopping for food and cooking were the last things on Earth I wanted to do. But that was about ten years ago, and in the past couple years my relationship with food has changed dramatically. Last time I set foot inside a grocery store I had to leave before buying anything because of the amount of panic the environment brought on. I can’t remember the last time I cooked something (I don’t count warming something up in a microwave, or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich). I’m lucky in that I live with someone who is willing to take on the responsibility of buying and preparing the food we eat. If I had my way, we probably would have starved by now.

So, what changed? Nearly two years ago, all my little food- and body-related anxieties got aggravated by a difficultYoung girl staring unhappily at her plate of food. work situation, and before I knew it I was dealing with a full-blown eating disorder. At this point, I consider myself to be in active recovery. But some days it seems like all that has really happened is that the manifestation of the disorder has taken on a different shape; rather than channeling all my stress into calorie restriction, I’m focusing it on avoiding food selection and preparation in whatever way I can. What would seem, on its surface, to be a way to eliminate food-related worries and thoughts from my day-to-day life is really just a way for me to keep those concerns at the forefront of my mind. In trying to forge a lifestyle that frees me from any responsibility when it comes to food-related choices, I’m really just trying to starve myself in a new and exciting way.

I want to get healthy. I want to have a successful recovery, and I want to avoid relapsing. And I suspect that the only way I might be able to do this is by going back to the kitchen, and transforming it into a space where I have the control I feel I’m missing in other aspects of my life–the control I’m seeking when I restrict, or try to avoid food. My plan is to start with simple recipes, things that don’t have many ingredients, don’t require too much energy or time, and may not even require any cooking.  My greatest hope is that by making food preparation a positive act, I’ll be able to associate the kitchen with recovery instead of anxiety and fear. Another hope (and one that I’ll admit is secondary) is that I might pick up some interesting recipes along the way, ones that I’ll be able to share here for any of you who are interested!

So here’s my goal, as small as it may be: prepare this dish sometime in the next week, to review in my next “Recovery Kitchen” post. It looks simple, appealing, and healthy. I’ll let you know how it goes!

By Emilie

Runner, yogini, knitter, Manhattanite in spite of myself. Also blogging at

6 replies on “Recovery Kitchen”

Good luck, Emilie. I have also had this struggle (I call myself “recovering eating disordered” the way AA members call themselves “recovering alcoholics” even if they’ve been dry as my lips for years – in my perspective, it’s a life long process – I hope yours isn’t). Getting into cooking was a big factor in my recovery – cooking for other people, having someone to eat with was also part of that. I had one friend who live in another state and we would make phone dinner dates where we’d be on the phone together, eating dinner, talking about what we’d made and our day at work.

Thanks! I fully believe it’s a lifelong process–I’ll be very surprised if I ever get to the point where I don’t have to remain vigilant about this stuff. I’m really glad to hear that becoming more engaged with your food choices helped in your recovery–it’s really encouraging, and also just great that you found a way to get through difficult issues that worked for you!

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