“Recovery” Oatmeal and the Witchy Nutritionist

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Of too much

And not enough

On the one hand

I see just how far I’ve come

Yet on the other

The same old structures

Circle round and round








Silky oat water


An unfamiliar lacing

Coconut oil, savory

And a thickness

The watery gruel

More substantial

What will this recipe

Cause in my stomach

For years eating different

Will this set of measurements

Bring pain?

As the chirping

Of the dark morning

And swaying periodic chime

Surrounds me

I risk, I open

To this momentous

Yet sorry challenge






And when it’s over

There’s no pain at all

Dark Goddess

She whispers in my ear


This week, my self-assigned re-enactment was of a memory of eating oatmeal.

But not just any oatmeal–this oatmeal was what I deemed at the time as “Recovery” oatmeal. Far from the low-calorie, Quaker Oats package with only water to swim in. This oatmeal was laced with silky almond butter, coconut oil and a hefty serving of chewy flattened groats.

The recipe for this oatmeal was provided to me decades ago whilst under the care and guidance of an eating disorder nutritionist. I’d hired her to get me out of the underworld once again. But she was no ordinary nutritionist…she was a witch.

She called herself a Kitchen Witch. She encouraged me to sit with the pain of eating more, kneeling at a Dark Goddess altar she’d had me create to give the lessons of Anorexia a home. She encouraged me to track the moon, to honor the time when I would be menstruating but wasn’t, to create a ritual to hold space for it to come.

She grew and crafted Vitex and Skullcap tincture to help my hormones, to soothe my anxiety. She encouraged me to honor the pain.

It was this deep experience I was attempting to re-create, eating this recipe and sitting with the pain once more, honoring it, listening to it.

Yet as I was preparing the meal, I was amazed at the amounts she’d listed in her original recipe. Today, these seemed like measly amounts. I remembered writhing in pain after eating said recipe…how could this be true?

I recalled how I teetered on the brink in those days, and how lucky I felt to have met this witchy woman at a women’s herbal conference, she coming upon my sobbing mess while ladies of all shapes and sizes frolicked merrily around me. I remembered the depth in which she looked at me, I remember feeling held.

I remembered feeling courage to do anything to face this seeming demon inside of me once again. I remember her holding me–and it–with such fierce care it astounded and changed my perspective forever.

And so it was with that heart that I made this meal that day so many years ago, and braced myself for the pain. And pain there was–for hours and hours. I was somehow able to hear her voice, this nutritionist witch, and maybe the Dark Goddess too.

I was able to hear them guiding me to sit with the pain, to honor it, rather than the usual running, starving, anything I had done to make it go away. I remember being with that pain so deeply, deeper than I’d ever been. Understanding it as not just “too much food” but as an intense, unconscious trauma reaction.

For some reason, fullness was avoided at all costs, and I had not at this point taken a conscious look at the this reason. I just remained confused at why if I wasn’t worried about my weight, why the fullness terrified me so much. Why I needed a treatment center, or hospital, to help me face it and not run. This woman, and perhaps the Wise Darkness, spoke to me that day, through my sitting with the gurgling mass of oats in my abdomen. That day I learned something profound and new, even though I could not put it into words.

This time, while preparing the recipe that triggered such intensity, I was nervous. I was perplexed. What would this meal bring, even though it didn’t seem to be such a challenge volume wise anymore? I found myself wondering if I might constellate discomfort regardless because I was expecting it, exploring it in this exercise.

Yet slurping and chewing the oilier, thickened mass, I found myself listening to my body, listening for it to tell me to stop, listening for the pain. But it didn’t, and the pain wasn’t there. My body was…still hungry.

And I knew what the lesson was. The lesson from the re-enactment was to show me how far I’ve come, even though I still measure my food. The lesson was to help me remember the deep teachers that have met me along the way and what insanity my body has gone through with me.

I spent the time after the meal thinking about all of this, grateful, yet still perplexed at not really knowing how to describe just what has happened between then and now (aside from some obvious metabolic rehab), but that a lot has. “Recovery” isn’t quite the term I’d use, but something momentous has alchemized within me.

So there I sat in the early morning hours, darkness still hanging heavy in the sky, and thought of Her. In all Her forms, that has come to guide me through this storm. At one moment, posing as the enemy, and at another a helping hand. How She has always been with me, teaching.

And then, I got up to eat some more.


*Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Tuna Wrap.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 


or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

Food Memory #6: Scones, Gregorian Chants and Mother Loss

From Wikipedia:

“The origin of the word scone is obscure and may derive from different sources. That is, the classic Scottish scone, the Dutch schoonbrood or “spoonbread” (very similar to the drop scone), and possibly other similarly-named quick breads may have made their way onto the British tea table, where their similar names merged into one. Thus, scone may derive from the Middle Dutchschoonbrood (fine white bread), from schoon (pure, clean) and brood (bread),[9][10] or it may derive from the Scots Gaelic term sgonn meaning a shapeless mass or large mouthful. The Middle Low German term schöne meaning fine bread may also have played a role in the origination of this word. And, if the explanation put forward by Sheila MacNiven Cameron is true, the word may also be based on the town of Scone (/skuːn/ (listen)) (ScotsScuinScottish GaelicSgàin) in Scotland, the ancient capital of that country – where Scottish monarchs were crowned, and on whose Stone of Scone the monarchs of the United Kingdom are still crowned today.[11]

The next food memory on my chronological tour is The Scone. First eaten at a quaint little bakery in the Diamond District of San Francisco with my uncle, I was probably about 10 years old and in awe of the whole situation. Being with a “father figure,” eating dainty fancy scones in a bakery, the sunny day outside the counter windows and the small bookstore across the street….all just dreamy compared to what I lived with back home with my mother. I’d started out the day with my auntie at the Chinatown Farmer’s Market, she showed me a connection and valuing of food I hungered for, and then to the Grace Cathedral where Gregorian Chanting filled the air. Then here with uncle, eating this heavenly morsel. This was an epic day. I think on some level eating this item tapped me into a sense based memory of my ancestors–Irish, Scottish, English, Wales–before I knew ancestry was a thing. All I know is paired with this scene I fell immediately in love with this type of pastry.

So my task this week was to re-create this moment to see what arose, a mighty challenge as all of these things are no longer what they were–cafes closed, Farmer’s Markets and Grace Cathedral sparsely dotted with the masked and anxious ridden. But I would try.

I purchased a raisin scone from the small market in town, and pulled up an image on my computer of the little bakery I once sat in with that uncle, who has now lapsed into dementia. I toasted the scone, and placed it in a ceramic bowl given to me by my auntie, also now lapsed into stage 4 cancer with no real verbal or mental abilities left. I began eating the scone. So perfect, the crisp outer denseness, collapsing into a steamy, soft, billowy center as I gently pulled it apart. I bit into the warmth, closed my eyes and enjoyed this taste experience. And then I put on the Gregorian Chanting.

Somehow, hearing these sounds opened another floodgate of grief within me. I began lamenting, truly feeling into the depth of loss I felt with my auntie’s condition–how, as a second mother to me, I was now losing her too. How just two years ago she danced around the room during Advent, this music playing. How after decades of being on the run from any family whatsoever, I was welcomed back into her arms after my mother died, no questions asked. How we stayed up late into the night talking about things I never knew about mom, about my childhood. She was helping me put some major puzzle pieces together. I cried about so much I don’t even know how to explain it. I think I cried the tears I should’ve cried when my mother passed, the deep deep ones that signify the true realization that something is just done, gone, ended and a void is all that is to be felt.

As I choked down that crumbly, slightly sweet deliciousness, I think I was also grieving for the opportunity to be a part of that day, so long ago, that rang of real family. Again, I don’t know how to describe that term, but it felt deep and like I was loved. “You belong to us,” I remember her saying to me, looking straight into my soul…and how those words reached around my heart and held it. While the doughy mass disintegrated on my tongue, I felt the awareness of how my uncle and auntie were both now almost gone and that sense of being a part of a “real family,” gone. Sloppy, snotty tears mingling with fading toasted buttery pastry scents, all of this mixed together.

Again I went to the art page and drew. Moons and broken hearts and tears and blues and Mama Mama Mama crying out for her loss. I let the feelings come, doing what I could to process them. Surprisingly, after the crying jags lessened, I found myself wanting more of the scone. I had cut it in half in case it made my stomach too full…and here was my stomach asking for more. Here was where I usually met the eating disorder thoughts. Should I or shouldn’t I push that risk of fullness?

Kind of scared and mistrusting, as usual I wasn’t sure my hunger was real or just emotional. Nevertheless I let myself eat one more bite just to honor the possibility that my hunger telling the truth. To be the mom, or the auntie or the uncle to that little kid in me that so badly wants them to eat a scone in a bakery with me again, now. I closed my eyes and visualized her in the bakery, sitting alone at the window, sadness in her eyes. Wondering where everyone was, who would come and eat with her. I imaged myself walking in the door and pulling up a seat next to her saying, “Hey. I’m here with you. Always.”

She looked up at me and smiled.

*Join me next week as I head into the next food memory: Fried Hamburger and Potatoes.

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 


or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

Book Review: The Joyous Body

When people hear that I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, and still do, the first assumption they make is that I hate my body, think I’m fat, horrible, etc. This really irritates me. What is actually true is that I am so in love with my body, for all the things it has put up with as I have slogged it through intensities, for all it has kept going on through. At times, I am overcome by grief at how much my dear body has been through, how its been with me despite the drastic things I’ve done to help ease my anxieties. At times, I sob uncontrollably for the cages and plans and rules and starvation and deprivation I have brought to my body. To think of it, as this loyal soldier, keeping me alive as I faced what seemed to it as famine, over and over again. I just weep sometimes with how amazing this vessel has been to me, and how cruel I’ve been to it.

Now this doesn’t mean I feel comfortable in my body, nor that I understand what it needs. These are certainly a few things I still struggle with, am confused by, and hope for someday reaching resolution with. I have wrestled with why it has been so difficult to do the simple things that most people do to stay alive, why this body doesn’t talk to me clearly, why it hurts when it shouldn’t. I’ve been bitter. I’ve been rageful. At God. At The Universe. At my body. This body.

Yet over the past decade there has been a sort of settling with that, a sort of acceptance of the possibility that this is my journey, my sacred wound to explore, and that this body and I are partners in figuring this stuff out, finding our way back to each other. Finding our way back to hearing each other through the decades, and possible eons, of ancestral disconnect from land, body, feeling, and primal instinct.

Which (finally!) brings me to this book. What an amazing gem. I recommend listening to it on audiobook, as Clarissa narrates it. In tuning in each day to the chapters, I felt as if I was in front of an ancient fire, Clarissa wrapped in layers of multicolored fabrics, swaying slowly before me, stories flowing from her as the firelight flickered and shadows danced over her face.

These stories, part of a greater series called The Dangerous Old Woman, recount her experiences growing up with powerful women who taught her how sacred and beautiful the body is, how sacred and beautiful being wild and “different” is. If I had any complaints about the book, it would be that Clarissa fails to mention how I might find these elders and sit at their feet :}

The audio book is comprised of six sessions, each about one hour long, and they explore titles like: The Scar Queen, The Great Silverbeards: Making Peace with the Body; Life Size story; The Body Bill of Rights; The Ice Queen: The Distorted Mirror ; I Tell Your Beautiful Body to You ; On Remarkable Life Emerging From the Midst of the Wound…and so many more. Her concept presents the body as our Sacred Consort, and to re-member it as such. It urges us to come out of the deep sleep of consumer society that tells us we need to be something different, something flatter, smoother, lighter, hairless. But most of all it urges us to drop into a timeless, ancient well of deep gratitude and amazement for these bodies that we inhabit, taking time to care for them as if they are a separate being, a life partner we’ve been gifted.

The end of each session is laced with a blessing for the body, and Clarissa’s voice reads like honey oozing into parts in need of nourishment. Her book does not purport to fix or solve anything. She tells us sacred stories and it brings magic, somehow. This is one of the things I love about storytelling and mythology in general. Her stories simply leave me with an echo of a deeper way of being I re-member. They help me re-member that I can place myself in these stories when feeling lost in the soulless banter of the everyday monotony.

This book did not suddenly make me want to “eat intuitively” or banish all thought of struggle in my relationship with my body, but it did soothe me. I know that what I struggle with is deeper and wider than anything a step-by-step method could address. Yet it soothed me, cradled me, like someone does when you need to just talk, not be fixed; when you need to be held, not directed. It made me remember this deep and profound gratitude I have for this Sacred Consort, and to realize how far I’ve come from the days of treating my body like a slave.

Have you listened to this book or any in the series? I’d love to know your experience, especially if you struggle with an eating disorder or body-hate. How did it help or not help to hear these stories? Did it help you re-member something deeper? Did it hold you when you just needed to be held?

Book Review: Shell

The process of choosing comparative titles is kind of grueling. I mean, how to find a book, that’s done relatively well, but not that well so as not to set standards too high, that’s been published within a year, not self published, and that is similar to the book I’ve written, but not better…quite a challenge. Not only are there zillions of eating disorder memoirs, but also food memoirs, mental health memoirs, addiction memoirs. How to choose between all of them!

I know, Cadillac problems. Yet the issue currently facing me, stalling me , in my attempt to complete this proposal. So I decided to just pick something. I decided to go to the library and see what was there, hold it in my hand versus searching, ogling, losing my brain cells to the blue screen. That’s how I found the last book I reviewed, that’s how I found this one.

It doesn’t meet all of “the” criteria. I don’t care. What criteria it does meet is mine, reasons being several. First off, Shell discusses a somewhat controversial topic–anorexia, yes, but beyond that it discusses one woman’s choice to die, as in the right-to-die movement. It also meets another criteria, which is covering the story of a middle aged woman and her process after struggling with an eating disorder for most of her life. It discusses the complexity of dealing with marriage, employment, buying and selling houses, all of the mundane issues that come along with this stage of life and how the eating disorder affects this. It also met the criteria of a similar format to my book–it’s made up of a series of short blogs, quick page turners, as well as this woman’s poetry.

What it doesn’t include, and I wish it did, was more of a spine, a story arc. Although it states outright that this is the blog, Michelle’s thoughts, from the last year of her life, there isn’t really an arc here. At first I was intrigued, I wanted to know this person and why she is choosing what she’s choosing, but at some point her random thoughts kind of lost me. I was impressed by her thoughts on the healthcare system (she is an employee in the Natuonal Health System in Canada) and her attempts to fight for rights to treatment for those struggling with illnesses. Yet she oddly leaves herself out of this equation, discounting that she is worth it because she does not want to get better.

As mentioned, I really appreciated her courage to tell this story, to stand up in her right to decide to refuse treatment and all that brought up for her. In a way it made me feel less worried about the “controversial” nature I feel my book presents–while I am raising the question of the possibility of the sacredness of the journey of anorexia and depression, the underlying message I am sending is one of hope and self compassion for one’s struggles. Not of the right to die! Michelle’s message stands up and speaks itself, and although I don’t align with her story, it encourages me to stand up in mine. She speaks of the support and encouragement she received from sharing her shame and her story, this too gives me hope to counter the (real) fear that my story will be criticized and not helpful to anyone, only labeled as harmful or as cultural appropriation and rationalizations.

Overall, I would encourage people to at least introduce themselves to this book. It approaches as mentioned some pretty complex issues, and gives one a view into a different, middle-aged process around complications of an eating disorder. Just be prepared to feel a little lost in what reads like a string of blogs and poems slapped together to form a book. Hopefully that won’t be what someone says about my book!

Thanks for joining me on this journey. If you have any titles that come to mind that sound like the content of my upcoming memoir, Food Memories, I’d love to hear them!

Photo by Victor on Pexels.com

Today I decided to upload my manuscript, and self-created cover, to KDP, as it is. My editor is still working on my line edit, but I really feel a desire to see what my upcoming memoir, Food Memories, will actually look like in printed form. How it will feel. The fact that I can print a proof copy before committing to the publish button, that I can get a copy (albeit imperfect) in my hands in a matter of days…this pushed me to hit the button.

My inner perfectionist is squirming, but I am excited. Today I hit print.