An Extra Hand.

For someone as stubborn as I am, it is often not easy to ask for help, especially not from people whom I am not close to. I knew however, that recovery would be an uphill climb and that eventually, I would need some psychological support to help pull me through the end of the tunnel.

So about a week ago, I asked a friend of mine who is working in a clinic specialising heavily in EDs, for recommendations of a good psychologist who may be able to guide me along. The psychiatrist Dr. L who diagnosed me 10 years back actually runs this place so at least I had the peace of mind that my friend’s colleague would be professional and knowledgeable about EDs.

This afternoon, I had my first appointment with Dr. A. I’ve had my fair share of psychologists and counsellors before, but I guess the desire to recover was always half-hearted. This time, I went to see Dr. A with a willing heart and even though it was only our first session, it concluded with me feeling in safe hands and eager to begin working out the tangles that may be hindering me from being truly free of ED.

Of course, it’s still early days but I am hopeful. I don’t expect to be 100% psychologically before I work on my physical health. I am long past the idea that I can work on my mindset and attitude before I can focus on gaining weight. I realise now that both work in tandem and both help support each other in order to attain a holistic recovery.

As a sidenote, I often draft my blogs before publishing them so by the time you read this, it’d have been a few days since my appointment with Dr. A. She gave me some ‘homework’ to do for the next session so hopefully, I’d have done it by then!

In other news, for most of you who read or follow my blog, you might know by now that my parents have been extremely staunch pillars of support for me ever since I developed ED, and way before ED obviously. They are constantly providing me with encouragement, love and comfort. I don’t think I can ever do enough back for them but last Sunday, after church, Mum and Dad came over and I had to pleasure of cooking dinner for them. It’s not much but at the very least, it’s something.

Whenever I cook something different, something special perhaps or try out a new recipe, I send a picture of the finished product to Mum. And usually I’d tell her what I might improve on next time and whether Flo enjoyed it. One of the dishes I showed her was my Kimchi Cauliflower Fried Rice. She mentioned that it’d be an awesome dish for Dad since he needs to cut down a bit so that was what I made for the four of us.

I threw in some baby kale and spinach as well since I still had some on hand, and pretty much followed the recipe that I used in my first attempt. Mum and Dad were very happy with it and said that they would try to replicate it one day too. Dad’s only question was “Where is the meat?” Being a meat man, he missed having his meat! Next time Dad, next time.

This last week, I’ve been a Muffin-making Machine churning out batch after batch of Vanilla, Chocolate, Banana, Carrot Muffins for PB Junior.

The cafe that I was baking weekly for has closed one of their two outlets and while its original one continues to run, they are expanding their reach into a school for Autistic children.

Essentially, they are running the canteen at the school and they have a little pastry booth selling muffins to the kids. Kids being kids, they went crazy over the Chocolate ones so I’ve been topping up on those nearly every day. Perhaps as the weeks go by the novelty of the muffins will die down and sales numbers will stabilise. At the same time, I’m still baking for the cafe so I’ve been a busy bee. Which is why…

This morning in order to unwind, I decided to bake up a batch of comforting, ooey, gooey, fudgy brownies. Yes – I bake for work but I also bake to destress. The irony!

Since I had some bananas at hand, Double Banana Peanut Butter Brownies it was! By double banana, I mean bananas in the brownie batter, aaaaand a layer of sliced bananas in the middle as well. I also dolloped some teaspoonfuls of creamy peanut butter with the fresh bananas, and added more extra crunchy peanut butter on top of the brownies for some texture. The swirls as you can see, didn’t really turn out quite so pretty but hey, it’s all in the eating!

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Honestly, you can never go wrong with peanut butter, bananas and chocolate! Eating these was like mouthfuls of heaven. They were rich, chocolatey, and indulgent. Exactly the way brownies ought to be.

Super-Fudgy Double Banana Peanut Butter Brownies (1 x 8×8″ tray)

125g butter
140g dark chocolate
200g condensed milk
110g sugar
3 eggs
90g flour
35g cocoa powder
2 bananas – one mashed and one cut into slices
50g (at least!) peanut butter – smooth, crunchy or both

  1. Preheat oven to 175deg C.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan. Then add chocolate and stir in to melt. Set aside
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk condensed milk, sugar, mashed banana and eggs together until light and fluffy.
  4. Lower the speed of your mixer and slowly pour in chocolate-butter mixture.
  5. Fold in flour and cocoa powder until just incorporated.
  6. Pour half the batter into a lined 8×8″ tin. Place sliced bananas on top to cover and dollop teaspoonfuls of smooth peanut butter in the uncovered areas. Be generous!
  7. Pour the rest of the brownie batter on top to cover. Spread as evenly as possible.
  8. Dollop more teaspoonfuls of peanut butter on top – I used crunchy this time and attempted to make swirls.
  9. Bake for 24min until just set.
  10. Cool, cut and devour!!

These brownies are a sure pick-me-up whatever day of the week it is. Trust me, these are so worth the effort! You might even want to double the recipe because they’ll disappear before you know it. How? I have no idea but they will.

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15 Years and Counting…

It’s not until you feel neglected and think you’re drifting away from someone who’s been like a sister to you half your lives that you realise just how much she means to you and just how much you love her.


So I’m glad it was just me being overly sensitive to her busyness and settling into married life. I can’t believe it’s been 4 months already since I was bridesmaid at her wedding.

We finally managed to lunch together proper last Sunday at Artisan Boulangerie Co. along Killiney Road – the best place for quiet catch up sessions when the rest of the restaurants, bistros and cafes in town are buzzing with people.

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I had my favourite fluffy Egg White Omelette with Double Mushrooms and Spinach.


And some Baguette on the side with Butter!

But more than that, it was great being able to spend time with Pearl even though we are now in different lines of work and mix in different crowds. Still, I know that she will always be a constant fixture in my life – has been for the last 15 years, and will be for wayyyy longer than that!

Squash ’em.

As expected, fighting ED has been getting more difficult and food cravings have tapered off… so far. This means that I’m probably not pushing myself as much or as hard as I ought to. While it’s nice not to feel that urge to ‘binge’ or satisfy that insatiable hunger for all things carby and sweet, it serves to make me think that I am at a good point health-wise and weight-wise and that I have done enough. Apparently, the scales tell Flo otherwise.

Although I have not clue right now how much I weigh or how much I gained from last week, it is clear to me that my clothes are getting a little more snug and my arms and legs are definitely less bony than they were not very long ago at all. My tummy area has filled more and doesn’t have as much ‘saggy’ skin as before. All these tangible forms of security and reassurances are beginning to fade away and it is disconcerting for sure.

In the last few days, I’ve found myself once again hesitating at what to eat and how much to eat. I’ve found myself once again starting to fear certain foods. I’ve found myself once again running back to making food choices, or the absence of choices, that I feel comfortable and safe with. Just a little.

As Flo and my parents have been reminding me, these thoughts are from ED and are baseless. I want recovery. I want good health. I want life. And ED is continuing to try to hold me back from all the things in life that I desire and deserve. I need to squash those words that drip of lies and deceit, and hold on to the light and the truth. I need to squash ED dead and render it into dust.

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Speaking of squash, I did promise to share my Squash Bread recipe the other time, or Pumpkin bread as we call it here. I found a nice recipe from Baking History and adapted it slightly. Rather than use pureed pumpkin, I decided to grate the piece of pumpkin I had and mix it into the dough. I also reduced the amount of sugar. This recipe’s really straight forward and yielded a nice big loaf with a lovely crust and a moist crumb. I cut half for Mum and Dad, and saved the other half for Flo and myself.


Pumpkin Bread (Yields 1 big loaf)

250g Pumpkin/Kabocha, grated
15g Sugar
366g Milk
15g Butter
2g Instant Yeast mixed into 15ml of warm water
6g Salt
500g Bread Flour, approx

  1. In a large bowl, place grated pumpkin, sugar, butter and salt together.
  2. Scald milk and add to pumpkin mixture. Stir in and set aside to cool.
  3. Add in yeast mixture.
  4. Add flour and knead well – the dough should be supple, slack and a little tacky.
  5. Prove about an hour or until dough doubles in size.
  6. Shape and place on a lined baking tray sprinkled lightly with flour or cornmeal.
  7. Allow to prove a second time (another 30-40min).
  8. Bake at 230 deg C for a total of 40-45min – Steam for the first 10min by placing a small bowl of water in the oven. Lower the temperature to 218 deg C after the first 15min. The bread is ready when browned and makes a hollow sound when tapped at its base.*If bread starts to brown a little too much, cover with foil until it is bake through.


This bread was eaten fresh with my Red Shakshuka that same evening.


It was also lovely toasted to eat with my Green Shakshuka and for my open sandwiches at lunch.

The pumpkin makes the bread moist and subtly sweet so it’s great eaten on its own, or as a palette for toppings since its flavour isn’t overwhelming. This was such an enjoyable bake for someone who’s not always keen or patient enough to make bread from scratch and I think I’ll be making more bread at home from now on if time permits. All the more so with a boyfriend from Germany – a country where bread rules!!

Change.

It’s been a week of eating more, of making sure I leave the table with a sense of fullness and of course, it makes me feel a sense of greed and lack of self-control. And yet, the last couple of days, I’ve found myself getting hungry about 2 hours post-lunch, even after making sure I have eaten more than enough to keep me filled until the next meal/snack. I wondered whether this emptiness within me was purely psychological or merely because of ‘Gluttony’ being unlocked. So I paid Google a visit and I came across this blog that hit me in the face with every feeling I’ve been going through the last few weeks.


As I read about this idea of ‘extreme hunger‘ and how to ride the wave, it reminded me of how in previous attempts at recovery, I had to go through exactly that before my body told me that it was happy and didn’t need to hanker after all the added fats and carbs and sugars anymore. Still, as much as I know about this through past experiences, ED has been doing a good job convincing me that this time is different, this recovery journey will see me losing control and never being able to find that balance within my body, and that I will never stop gaining weight.


I agree with Sarah that recovery shouldn’t be about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods, ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ foods. My body has been put through a lot of trauma with all the rules and restrictions that I placed upon it, and more than I realise, I have probably also created a lot of destruction internally that requires repair and restoration. The fact that I may crave for sweets and breads and peanut butter only serves to highlight that my body needs and wants these things to fuel my recovery. And as much as ED would like to deceive me into thinking that this will be forever, it will not, just as the many survivors of ED who shared about their extreme hunger experiences in Sarah’s blog has held testament to.

While I haven’t gone through intense periods of extreme hunger, just one-off days mainly, I have to admit that it isn’t easy to sit with. Yesterday, after adding an extra slice of Peanut Butter slathered Banana Walnut Toast topped with Honey to my afternoon snack, and digging into my favourite tub of Haagen-Dazs Macadamia Nut Ice-Cream, and having a Red Bean Pau after with a side of Chocolate Milk, I went off to meet Flo for a special dinner that he wanted to treat me to because he could see how much effort I have been putting into recovery lately.


My stomach felt incredibly bloated and distended and my abdomen screamed with discomfort and a sharp ache as if punishing me for the additional food. Still, I wanted to enjoy dinner with my favourite man. And enjoy it we did at Bincho at Hua Bee.


I even had my first cocktail in 10 years(!!) and finished it although the Asian in me obviously meant that my blood rushed to my head and ears and before I knew it, I felt all dozy. It was Longan Sakura Tequila that I had and I have to admit, I enjoyed it although I think it was the last gulp at the end that got the alcohol pulsing through my veins.


Flo and I ordered off the ala-carte menu some beautiful sashimi – Tuna, Salmon, Mackerel, Sea Bream and Yellowtail. We sat right in front of the open kitchen which gave us a wonderful view of the chefs at work, not only cooking our food before our very eyes, but also plating them with such elegance and beauty. It was definitely a visual feast for us as well!


The platter of Grilled Vegetables encompassed a mix of interesting greens. To eat with Mushroom Salt were the sweet Japanese Baby Corn and the Large Broad Beans. The earthy bitterness of the Brussel Sprouts were offset by the citrus acidity of the Yuzu Miso it was paired with. My personal favourite were the Bamboo Shoots that went amazingly well with the sweet, salty umaminess of the Kinome Miso.


We also had a portion of tender, perfectly seasoned Kurobota Pork with melty, sweet Black Garlic. I wasn’t quite so keen on the layers of fat within the pork but I have to admit that I’ve never had pork yield so easily to the bite before. And while I think you can never go wrong with garlic, Black Garlic is like a whole other level that brings you another step closer to heaven!


Our last dish was also my favourite of the night. It was the most amazing Grilled Octopus I have ever had. It was so soft and almost creamy without that chewy, rubbery texture that octopus is so known for. The one served here at Bincho was simply excellence personified in my humble opinion with a subtle crustacean sweetness that was beautiful without the need for much embellishment.


Of course, as dinner rounded up, I could feel the discomfort around my abdominal area intensify. My heart was racing and I felt short of breath. Flo and I went for a walk around the quaint neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru before we hailed a cab home.

I’m not sure if it was the alcohol in my system but I have been getting heart palpitations more often this recovery period and feeling a lot warmer especially after heavier meals. I’ve been waking up more in the middle of the night to pull the blankets off of me because I get uncomfortably hot whereas only over a month ago, I was burying myself under them to gather some warmth.


I mentioned earlier that I believe that food shouldn’t be categorised into ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and similarly, I am beginning to think too that where recovery is concerned, there needn’t be a set time for snacks if my body feels hungry before or after those times. There needs to be some flexibility as well. Kind of like how we feed babies when they’re hungry, we should feed ourselves when the body screams for food too.

Also, I think that closing myself off to certain foods or saying that I can only eat at this time and only this amount of snack is in effect a form of control and fear towards calories. Right now, breaking the rules as wrong as it feels, as guilty as it feels, as disgusting as it feels, is exactly what’s right. And I guess the more ED tries to convince me otherwise – and we all know how convincing it can be, the more I need to go against it. Funny how I used to rebel so much against my parents in my teenage years when all they wanted was the best for me. Yet, with ED, which wants to destroy me, rebelling against it is hard work. But as my psychiatrist Dr. Lee used to always say, “If it feels like work, you’re doing it right”.

On that note, I have also decided to start seeing a psychologist whom one of my good friends, an incredible ED survivor now ED psychologist, recommended to me. I figured that as well as I believe I’m currently doing on the eating front, I still need some support psychologically and seeing someone professional with experience in this field may be beneficial in helping me stay strong and move further along in my recovery. I want a full recovery (or indefinite remission as some might call it) this time – not a partial one as with every other time I have tried.


I thank God every day for Flo always reminding me the reasons I want to recover and be well, for the hugs and reassurances that he provides me with every morning and every night, for the love he shows me even when I feel awful.

I thank God every day for Mum and Dad who check in on me through text or visits to my place to make sure I am ok; providing encouragement and support when I’m feeling distressed after eating ‘too much’.

I thank God every day for strength to carry me through the day even when I wake up feeling weak and not wanting to go through my meals valiantly. It is because of Him that I find myself able to press on with every meal.

I am blessed and I have so much more to live for. With every night that falls, with every day that turns into darkness, the light within me shines brighter and the life within me grows. Hope. Faith. Love. I have all three.

Red vs Green.

I’m more of a Blue person but today’s all about Red and Green.

At the beginning of last week, I found myself dreaming of Shakshuka and rather than spend getting this dish at a cafe, I decided to whip it up at home for dinner. This dish was exceptionally simple although rather than serve it in the skillet, I found myself eyeing the little Chestnut Pumpkin sitting on our kitchen counter.


Now this Pumpkin was a bit of a splurge but being the Pumpkin-eating fiend that I am, I couldn’t help but want to buy it just to see how special it was given its price tag. Anyway, I thought I’d be creative and serve Shakshuka in Pumpkin Bowls.


I got my recipe off NYT Cooking but made a few changes.

Shakshuka (Serves 2):

Small Pumpkin (If you choose to serve them in a pumpkin bowl), halved and seed removed

1/2 Onion, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp Garlic, sliced thinkly
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
360g canned diced tomatoes
Handful of Baby Kale
Basil
Pinch of Salt
Black Pepper to taste
Goat’s Cheese as needed
2 Eggs

  1. Warm oven to 180deg C and place halved pumpkins onto a lined baking tray. Bake for 40-50 minutes depending on the size of the pumpkin until tender.
  2. Heat olive oil in pan and saute onions and red bell peppers until softened, approximate 15-20min.
  3. Add garlic and stir another 1-2min.
  4. Stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper and cook another minute until fragrant.
  5. Pour in the tin off tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Lower heat to simmer and allow sauce to thicken.
  6. I had a handful of baby kale left and some basil so I threw both in to wilt.
  7. Fill cooked pumpkin cavities with some sauce and top with an egg. Bake 7-10 minutes depending on how set you like your eggs.
  8. Garnish with crumbled goat’s cheese and basil.


Unfortunately, my little pumpkin halves were too small so not a lot of sauce could fit in and some of the egg white overflowed when I cracked the eggs in. And I ended up having to add more sauce around the pumpkin bowls so perhaps a kind of squash with a bigger cavity might be better, or just a bigger pumpkin altogether. Also, I added some sausage to our Shakshuka just for the extra protein and served it with some homemade Pumpkin Bread that I made earlier that day – I’ll share the recipe soon!


Flo loved the tomato sauce and it was lovely eaten with the fresh bread. The pumpkin bowls made it a very filling meal though and we were well-stuffed after cleaning our bowls. As for the pumpkin itself, it was sweet and flavoursome but not worth its weight in cash – our local pumpkin tastes just as good!


Following the success of the Red Shakshuka, I decided to make a Green Shakshuka last Thursday night for my dinner. Flo was out with some colleagues so I made it a single serving using Jamie Oliver’s Recipe and downsizing it a little.

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Mum is a ardent fan of Jamie Oliver’s recipes and so far, they have proved to be very good. So with such a wide repetoire of Green Shakshuka recipes online, I thought that his would be quite reliable. Of course, not being able to gather all the ingredients meant that I had to improvise here and there.

Green Shakshuka for 1:

1/4 Onion, diced
1 tsp Garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp Ground Oregano
60g Baby Spinach
60g Baby Kale
Pinch of Sea Salt
50ml Vegetable Broth
1/4 wedge of Lime
Bunch of Mint
Bunch of Basil
Blue Cheese

1 Egg

  1. Heat oil in pan and saute onion and garlic until softened.
  2. Add dried spices and herbs and cook for a minute.
  3. Add spinach, kale, mint and basil and season with sea salt and pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes until wilted.
  4. Stir in vegetable broth and lime juice.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables and crack and egg into it. Cover pan with lid to steam the top of the egg just to cook it slightly.
  6. Season egg with some salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle blue cheese on top and serve with bread of choice.


I ate this with more of my pumpkin bread, toasted, but because it wasn’t so much of a saucy dish, the bread didn’t quite make a good vessel for scooping up the greens. Also, I added the vegetable broth because I felt that the dish as a whole was a little too ‘dry’ and some smoked salmon for extra protein. Altogether, it was a nice dinner experiment but I think Red Shakshuka has my heart in this fight between Red and Green…


At least until I baked up a batch of Matcha Avocado Muffins the other day. I know that most sweet bakes feature Chocolate along with Avocado but I decided to keep the Superfood Greenies together and allow for the Antioxidants to mingle with the Healthy Fats.

With butter being replaced by avocado, I didn’t have too high hopes for these muffins because of my previous attempt at doing the same thing. Looks like it was second time lucky for me because these muffins turned out really well! Again, more dense than their buttery counterparts, but really tasty in a fudgy blondie kind of way. Me likey! Also, I tend to be quite restrained with the amount of sugar that I put into my bakes so the addition of dark chocolate chips to sweeten things up certainly did the trick.

So it’s back to the drawing board in this battle between the Reds and the Greens. But where Shakshuka is concerned, red. It has to be red!

Coffee Talk & Xiao Long Baos.

This last Wednesday was a meaningful one for me. I often feel that I don’t make enough effort to be a good friend to my friends, and that I tend to take family for granted. I know that after I was diagnosed with ED in 2008, many people who I regarded as friends drifted away from me. I don’t blame them. They didn’t know how to handle my illness, or to deal with a friend who had a disorder that they couldn’t begin to fathom. As a result, I hold on dearly to the friends who have stuck around and treat me the same way they always have, who treat me as Natalie, even though I probably don’t see them as often as I should.

Late morning on Wednesday, I met up with Sher and Eunice for coffee at this new cafe, Monument Lifestyle. We initially intended on brunch but I didn’t think I could last until 11am without a bite and lunch was a no-go because Sher had to take their dog to the vet. So it ended up being just coffee and chit-chat.

I had a Piccolo Latte and they gave out free samples of their Sourdough Bread topped with Salted Caramel and Sliced Green Apples. Yes, I did take a piece to try. And yes, I finished it, as well as the mini Oreo cookie they served with the coffee. Nat  1 : ED 0.

Sher and I have now known each other just over half our lives! We used to sit next to each other in class, skip the Geography classes we loathed (funny how she now teaches Geography!) in favour of the toilets where we would munch on childhood tidbits or bags of fried wantons thinking we were so cool, or just while away our lesson time SMS-ing on our old Nokia phones hidden beneath our desk back when we typed using the dialpad and didn’t have to even look at it to know what we were texting. I’d like to think we’ve grown up a bunch since then!

We didn’t really keep in close contact during University days but in the last couple of years, we’ve started making time to catch up with each other. We can go for months without hearing from each other and when we finally meet, it’s as though Time never passed – which was exactly how it was when we met up for coffee. I think sometimes, it’s the simple act of making time for each other, no matter how short or long, that shows just how much you mean to the other person.

Eunice and Sher have both been wonderful to me in that when I was going through some bad patches, they would drop me a text to ask if everything’s ok. I appreciate that and I have been trying to do the same with them too because I can see how a small act of caring can mean so much!

With regards to family, I think I tended to take a lot of my frustrations out on them especially when I lived at home. Whenever Grandma and Grandpa visited from London, I didn’t really spend a lot of quality time with them simply because they were around home and I felt that our close proximity was sufficient. Since moving out of home, I have come to value the time I spend with my family.

On Wednesday evening, Mum, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma came over to our place before we went to the mall under our condo for dinner.

We dined at Paradise Dynasty, feasting on Xiao Long Baos and a few other Chinese dishes.


It was nice being able to take Grandma and Grandpa out for dinner before they returned to London the day after.


They were especially touched that Flo treated them (well, all of us) to the sumptuous meal, being running down to buy some fresh Putu Piring (Palm Sugar filled Rice Flour Cakes with Desiccated Coconut) from the famous stall at Haig Road Food Centre for the family to try.


Mum texted me later telling me that Grandma shared with her that she has never seen me happier – back to my old funny and witty self which she loves. Sometimes, being stuck with ED closes me off to the fact that my negative energy may emanate further than I realise. That is, even with Grandma and Grandpa living so far away, they’re able to feel the darkness that ED shrouds around me. It’s not only Mum, Dad and Flo, who feel the brunt of the disorder. Once again, another reminder that ED is selfish and inward-looking, and I am more than that – I am more than ED.

And then he asked.

No. It wasn’t “Will you marry me?”

He asked, “What are you afraid of?”

And that question immediately stumped me. I couldn’t answer. I had no answer. I played that question over and over again in my head and still, nothing.

Am I afraid of gaining weight? Maybe. But even then, recovery means having to gain weight and I want to be healthy so I guess that’s not quite it.

Am I afraid that I’ll gain too much too soon? Again, I want to recover so who’s to say how much is too much and how soon is too soon? The faster I get healthy, the faster I can get on with life so I guess that’s not it either.

Am I afraid that I will lose control? I know I’ve had the discipline to bring myself down to this point so I am confident enough that I have the will power to maintain a healthy lifestyle at a healthy weight.

Am I afraid that I will be lost without the ‘anorexic’ label slapped onto me? Again, no. I know who I am. I’m confident in who I am. And I am beyond happy to be identified as ‘Natalie, the girl who bakes’ rather than ‘Natalie, the girl who has an eating disorder’.

I have Flo. I have my family. I have friends. Yet, there’s this fear that hovers at the very back of my mind even though I cannot put my finger on where it stems from or why it’s there. I cannot even say what this fear is! How stupid! And so, it gives me yet another reason as to why I cannot let the voice of ED continue to deceive me.


Perhaps the only things I’m afraid of are losing the people I love, or never having them be able to see me healthy and thriving – recovered. That in itself should drive me closer to Life because I see no more reasons, none at all, to court Death.

******

He also asked, “What’s for dinner?”

Last week, I cooked up a really yummy Mushroom Bolognese. I was really pleased with how it turned out so much so that I’m probably going to make this again with minced beef. Then again, even with mushrooms alone this was incredibly flavourful and rich.

Mushroom Bolognese for 2:

80-100g pasta of choice per person or 1 zucchini spiralised (I just used a julienne peeler)

1/2 Onion, chopped
250g Button Mushrooms – 125g sliced, 125g grated
1 clove Garlic, chopped
200ml Mushroom/Vegetable Broth (Or pasta water)
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt
Pepper

Fresh Basil
Cheese (Your favourite pasta cheese)

  1. Cook pasta according to the instructions. I usually take a minute off so that it’s al dente. I blanched the spiralled zucchini as well to get rid of the raw taste that I don’t quite like but you can have it raw as well.
  2. Saute onions and salt.
  3. When onions have softened and are translucent, add in the garlic and mushrooms and stir for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add in tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and stir thoroughly to mix. Then season with black pepper to taste.
  5. Add mushroom broth (or pasta water) a little at a time, stirring as you go.
  6. Simmer until the sauce reaches your desired bolognese consistency.
  7. Chop basil and grate/slice cheese to garnish.

Of course, I am aware that someone who is trying to recover from an ED shouldn’t be shying away from carbs as Flo pointed out to me during this dinner. I realise that the general pattern for me is that I get all gung-ho about eating more but after a while, I start to smell Fear lurking around the shady corners of my mind and again, I begin to look for safer alternatives to certain foods, especially carbs.

Interestingly enough, my body has its way of showing me that it still doesn’t trust me to feed it well entirely. And in a way, I guess that gives way to the odd binge because my body takes over my mind and I find myself stuffing my face with fat and carbs-rich foods. Only to feel guilty after and forgo promises to never put my face near the toilet bowl again (except to clean it). As rotten as those days are, they are reminders that my body needs nourishment not just for a week, but for always. And right now, more so than ever.

So on Monday night, after a rough afternoon, I met with Flo to have dinner at a Vietnamese place not too far away from where we are staying. I ordered a bowl of Bún Gà Xào – Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables, that Flo loves having at this particular place, and a side of Fresh Summer Rolls. Thankfully, the summer rolls came in a pair and were on the smaller side although still packed with fresh prawns and herbs.

The noodles came in quite a big bowl with a generous portion of vegetables. The serving of noodles also looked quite hefty and 3/4 the way through, I felt full. But I found myself enjoying it anyway and slurped everything up. It did feel like a binge but I figured that my body probably needs to know that I will feed it properly and that it shouldn’t fear being hungry before it’s time for the next meal.

And again today for lunch, I prepared myself a meal that made me feel greedy even before diving into it. Please ignore the random nuts and Japanese crackers on the side, and the redkraut and pickles. That’s part of my weird eating habit that I still haven’t quite shaken off. Anyway, I still wanted my sunny-side up and I wanted smoked salmon so I decided to have the best of both worlds by having the egg on one half of a toasted multigrain roll, and smoked salmon with herbed cream cheese on the other. So indulgent. So filling. So good.

Of course I felt bad. I felt fat. I felt guilty. But at the same time, I know that my body needs it and I need to start making it trust that I will no longer starve it. On my part, I need to trust in the process and have faith that eventually, my body will feedback to me when it is healthy enough, how much nourishment it needs, or doesn’t need. For now, head down and just keep swimming.