Monday, March 17, 2014


2a :  an interruption in time or continuity :  break; especially :  a period when something (as a program or activity) is suspended or interrupted <after a 5-year hiatus from writing>

It is quite obvious that I have not written in a while, and I find it humorous and ironic that the example given for the definition of hiatus is taking a break from writing.

For various reasons, I have not made another recipe sine my last posting.  And I even convinced myself that the reasons were good ones: sickness in the family, holidays and traveling, exhaustion, didn't have the ingredients, dinner plans at other people's houses, not wanting to...

As you can see, the reasons seem less and less valid.  It became comfortable for me to avoid cooking and eating new recipes from More-with-less.
For me, anorexia nervosa requires and involves a certain level of becoming comfortable with things that are typically uncomfortable: hunger, exhaustion, avoiding meals with loved ones, eating foods I don't like/not eating foods I do like, working out through pain...
Over the years, I have become comfortable with being uncomfortable and found ways to avoid new and different aspects of my life that would bring me pleasure, health, and joy.  I have continued this pattern with the project I began in this blog.
On June 3, 2013, I posted the following project proposal:
"I intend to read the book and cook one of the recipes each week and blog about my experience.  You might wonder what the point of this is.  Sometimes, I wonder the same thing.  But I think it is important as Mennonites and other Christians to think about the ethics of food, hunger, and the poor, that we do not shape the conversation around the idea of guilt."

I still believe this and intend to continue with my project.

I appreciate the people who have asked me about the blog and expressed a desire to read more of my journey.

During the rest of this time of Lent, I will pray and think about how to re-start this project and my desire to continue finding healthier ways to live.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Pizza Rice Casserole

Recipe #10: p. 129, Pizza Rice Casserole--Myrna Schmidt, Lakewood, Colorado

ground beef
tomato sauce
garlic salt
parsley flakes
cottage cheese
shredded cheese

This meal was simple to make, but I burnt the rice the first time, which was frustrating.  It tasted very good and was like a lasagna with rice instead of noodles.

This weekend, the women of our church had our annual women's retreat.  This year, it was a silent retreat, and it was my first experience with one.  We had common meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner eaten in silence.  At each meal, we had a prepared, written litany to read, but there was no spoken communication during the meals.  It was my first time eating with people in complete silence, and I enjoyed the experience.

I prepared the following for the litany that we read during our silent lunch.

Silence that leads to Awareness
Ephesians 3:17-19
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

During this lunch, please read the following excerpts on mindfulness and try to practice mindfulness during this meal.  The goal with mindfulness is that it will lead us to an overall awareness of the love of Christ for us.

What is Mindful Observation?
“Being mindful means that you do not attempt to change your thoughts and feelings.  You do not try to distract yourself, and you do not try to numb your experiences.  As a mindful observer, you simply take note of whatever it is that your mind serves up for you.  You watch your thoughts and feelings come and go without attempting to change them, hang on to them, or make them go away…The key to mindfulness is your willingness to observe and experience your thoughts and feelings without trying to hold on to them, change them, or run away from them…As you develop willingness, you will give yourself space and room to maneuver in different directions.  Through mindfulness, you open the door to taking action so that you can move toward the most important values in your life.”
p. 65 The Anorexia Workbook

What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. We pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, flavors, temperatures, and even the sounds (crunch!) of our food. We pay attention to the experience of the body. Where in the body do we feel hunger? Where do we feel satisfaction? What does half-full feel like, or three quarters full?
We also pay attention to the mind. While avoiding judgment or criticism, we watch when the mind gets distracted, pulling away from full attention to what we are eating or drinking. We watch the impulses that arise after we've taken a few sips or bites: to grab a book, to turn on the TV, to call someone on our cell phone, or to do web search on some interesting subject. We notice the impulse and return to just eating.
We notice how eating affects our mood and how our emotions like anxiety influence our eating. Gradually we regain the sense of ease and freedom with eating that we had in childhood. It is our natural birthright.
The old habits of eating and not paying attention are not easy to change. Don't try to make drastic changes. Lasting change takes time, and is built on many small changes. We start simply.

Pick your mindful eating homework:

(1) Try taking the first four sips of a cup of hot tea or coffee with full attention.
(2) If you are reading and eating, try alternating these activities, not doing both at once.  Read a page, then put the book down and eat a few bites, savoring the tastes, then read another page, and so on.
(3) At family meals, you might ask everyone to eat in silence for the first five minutes, thinking about the many people  who brought the food to your plates.
(4) Try eating one meal a week mindfully, alone and in silence. Be creative. For example, could you eat lunch behind a  closed office door, or even alone in our car?

Enjoy your meal!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Ten-Minute All-In-One Meal

Recipe #9: p. 143, Ten-Minute All-In-One Meal--Flo Harnish, Akron, Pennsylvania

whole wheat bread
hard cheese

This meal was very simple and very fast.  It tasted good and can be eaten with a fork or fingers!

I closed my previous blog with this statement: We do not live in isolation, but we act as if we do, which leads to lack of empathy, which in turn leads to violence.  To counter this destructive chain, we must actively seek to follow Jesus and his example of empathy and compassion towards others.

I left readers with a challenge to actively seek to follow Jesus, and now I would like to offer ways that this can be accomplished through Mennonite Central Committee's Relief Sales and Penny for Power campaigns.

Information about Mennonite Relief Sales:
Beginning in the late 1950’s, Mennonite Relief Sales began for the purpose of raising funds to support the projects and programs of Mennonite Central Committee, a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches. MCC shares God's love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. Forty three relief sale events in the U.S. and Canada raise over five million dollars annually. Sale events are hosted by  local communities with the help of thousands of  hundreds volunteers who contributing their time and resources. Relief sales today are festive events, enjoyed by large crowds that come for the food, fellowship and  opportunity to support the relief, development and peace work of MCC. Attendees can purchase  hand crafted quilts, wood products and a variety of other donated items. Some events include fun-runs, music and childrens activities.  Learn more about relief sale locations and how you can get involved by browsing through web page.

More resources about MCC relief sales and food and water shortages around the world:

Every five seconds a child dies because he or she is hungry.

Did you know people can survive 2 months without food, but will die in 3 days without water?

Sunday, September 29, 2013

No-Bake Cereal Cookies

Recipe # 8: p. 287, No-Bake Cereal Cookies--Rosemary Moyer, North Newton, Kansas

brown sugar
light corn syrup
peanut butter
cereal flakes
flaked coconut (optional)

I made these no-bake cereal cookies for my children's three-year old birthday party, and they were easy to make and a huge success.  My children's birthdays in August and my upcoming birthday in October has caused me to reflect on my own childhood.

By nature, I was an anxious and sensitive child.  I was easily overwhelmed when I heard stories of people suffering.  When I was about five years old, I remember seeing a cartoon with a character wearing a barrel held up by suspenders.  That night, I have a distinct memory of praying for that man to get clothes.

Whenever I saw a person holding a sign asking for money on the side of the road, I would ask my parents to go buy food to give to him or her.  We did this quite a few times during my childhood.

My feelings of wanting to help others were out of kindness, but more than anything, they were from guilt.  Why did I have things and other people didn't?  Why were people mean to others?  Why don't people share the food they have?

As I moved into my teenage years, my intense desire to not see people hurting continued, but the world began showing itself to be more cruel and unforgiving than I could handle.  Life seemed overwhelming, chaotic, scary, and unmanageable, and I did not feel prepared to face this world as an adult.

According to the book Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky A. Bailey, there are seven powers for self-control necessary for individuals to learn and practice. I always had family, friends, and church members who loved me and let me know that they loved me.  But there was a disconnect that did not allow me to learn the powers of self-control that Bailey writes about; the powers of: attention, love, acceptance, perception, intention, free will, and unity.  Being ill-equipped with the powers of self-control, I turned to other forms of surviving the overwhelming feelings of fear I had.

As a young child, obsessive compulsive thoughts and behaviors had already manifested, and by the fifth grade, those obsessive compulsive thoughts became centered on my physical body.  I have memories of asking my mom and my sister multiple times a day if I was fat or pudgy.  After my sophomore year of high school, those thoughts became obsessive compulsive behaviors.

I went on a diet to lose weight the summer after tenth grade, and that was the beginning of me engaging in eating disordered behavior.  It began a long road of isolation, self-hatred, and continued guilt.  

After many years of therapy and recovery work with people who love me deeply, one of the things that I have discovered about having an eating disorder, is that it does exactly the opposite of what I intended it to do.

I wanted to be in control of my body, how I looked, how people perceived me, and what they thought about what I looked like.  I wanted to be perfect and not do anything that would allow people to be upset with me for any reason.

It numbed the sensitive, caring side of me that allowed me to see people in need and want to help them.  Instead, it made me only able to think about myself, about my body, about my weight.

My ability to empathize was diminished, which consequently lowered my ability for compassion.  Empathy is "the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another sentient or fictional being. One may need to have a certain amount of empathy before being able to experience accurate sympathy or compassion."

And being in a state of semi-starvation did not allow for me to expend any energy on recognizing the emotions being experienced by those around me.  All I could focus on was my need to restrict calories, exercise more, and lose more weight.

The article "Empathy and social functioning in anorexia nervosa before and after recovery" by Robin Morris, Jessica Bramhan, Emma Smith, and Kate Tchanturia, comes to the following conclusion:
    "Results. The acute AN (anorexia nervosa) group reported lower levels of empathy than the recovered AN group and  HC (healthy control), but they also reported less antisocial behaviour. No differences were found in emotional recognition or social conformity.

Conclusions. These results suggest that emotional empathy is reduced during acute AN. Lower levels of antisocial behaviour may reflect a contrasting desire of people with AN to minimise presentation of antisocial behaviour in the acute state."

So, according to this article, I was able to recognize emotions and artificially conform socially to fit in with the people around me, but I was unable to fake it with being empathetic.

Once my body, brain, soul, and spirit were well nourished with food and love, I was able to learn how to empathize with people in a way that allowed me to show compassion not based on guilt. 

Empathy is a skill that is essential for individuals to learn but seems to be increasingly difficult to teach to our children.  Lack of empathy comes from a focus on self for whatever reason and getting one's own needs met.

A comedian named Louis C.K. was recently in an interview where he said the following about his hatred for cell phones:
"And they (kids) don’t look at people when they talk to them and they don’t build the empathy. You know, kids are mean, and it’s ’cause they’re trying it out. They look at a kid and they go, 'you’re fat,' and then they see the kid’s face scrunch up and they go, 'oh, that doesn’t feel good to make a person do that.' But they got to start with doing the mean thing. But when they write 'you’re fat,' then they just go, 'mmm, that was fun, I like that.'"

 As a person with AN, my empathy was hampered by my isolation within my physical body.  Many of us today are experiencing this same isolation due to our computers, cell phones, single-family dwellings, individual cars, and the ability to do everything for ourselves. 

Isolation diminishes empathy, which leads to less compassion, which allows for violence.  The violence that I inflicted was on my own body.  Other people's isolation becomes violence turned on others.

The More-with-Less cookbook challenges us as disciples of Jesus to empathize with the hungry of the world and show compassion on others by recognizing that the choices we make about our own food are not isolated decisions.

As Longacre states,"Communication happens swiftly in our world.  How can we continue overeating in the face of starvation and be at peace with ourselves and our neighbors...Jesus recognized the desire to get more and more as a destructive force when he asked, 'For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?'" p. 24

 We do not live in isolation, but we act as if we do, which leads to lack of empathy, which in turn leads to violence.  To counter this destructive chain, we must actively seek to follow Jesus and his example of empathy and compassion towards others.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Anneliese's post on: For Everything a Season

Thank you to Anneliese for publishing what she wrote for my blog on her personal blog:

I have appreciated the dialogue that we have been able to have about food and faith and look forward to more dialogue with others.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mashed Potato Casserole

Recipe # 7: p. 230, Mashed Potato Casserole--Helen June Martin, Ephrata, Pennsylvania
sour cream or yogurt
dill seed
cooked spinach
cheddar cheese

I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago with no real anxiety leading up to it, while cooking it, or when I tasted it.  It was very easy to make and came out great.  I hadn't allocated enough prep time to skin the potatoes, so it wasn't finished baking in time for our family dinner that night.  But it re-heated really well the next couple of days, and the family all enjoyed it.

In the past, this recipe's name alone would have scared me away.  Mashed potatoes conjure up memories of butter and holiday meals with an excess of food surrounding me.  Too many people would inevitably comment on my appearance and small amount of food consumption. 

Casseroles represented a place for secret fatty ingredients like butter, cream, and many other "scary" foods to hide.  I imagined that people would add things to recipes to cause me to gain weight, and casseroles were a great place to hide calories.

Although I sound like I was paranoid, well-meaning people in my life have resorted to these types of methods in an attempt to do what they thought it would take to save my life.

When we love people, we resort to extraordinary and ludicrous acts to protect those people.  Sometimes they are healthy for the relationship, and sometimes they are not.  Regardless, they are an attempt to put that love into action.

When a family is affected by an eating disorder, the whole family suffers.  So do any of the people who love the individual with an eating disorder (ED).  Many people look for a cause for the ED.  They search for a treatment and a cure.  They want answers to questions like: Why does this happen?  What causes it?  How can we stop it?

But what they really want to know is: Did I do anything that led to my loved one's ED?  Did I do something wrong?  Didn't I love her/him enough?

In short the answers are: Yes, you did something that eventually influenced your loved one to use an ED as a coping mechanism.  Yes, you did something wrong in your relationship with the person you love.  No, you didn't love her/him enough.

Before you get mad and think that I am blaming parents and other loved ones for EDs, keep reading...

There is not consensus on what causes an eating disorder.  The National Eating Disorder Association list various psychological, interpersonal, social, and biological factors that may contribute to eating disorders.

The infuriating and depressing thing about not knowing what causes eating disorders is that we do not have a guaranteed way to treat them.  And when you also know the following facts, it is almost more than a person can handle:

 Between 5-20% of individuals struggling with anorexia nervosa will die.  The probabilities of death   increases within that range depending on the length of the condition.

Anorexia nervosa has one of the highest death rates of any mental health condition.

But back to what I said earlier:
We ALL do things that influence our loved ones to use unhealthy coping mechanisms.
We ALL do things in our relationships that are not loving.
We ALL will never be able to love a person enough.

I am not trying to excuse people's poor attempts at loving one another, just pointing out that many of the things in our relationships that cause conflict are motivated by our love for others.  But sometimes we try to love others by controlling them. 

I can choose to remain angry and resentful that the people who love me sometimes tried to control my actions, or I can choose to acknowledge that they were loving me in the best way that they knew how.

Only God can love us in a way that is always healthy and supportive and patient.  The rest of our relationships will be full of blundered attempts at putting our love into action.

The important thing to remember for people with anorexia nervosa and those who love them is that we are not working against each other.  We are on the same side.  We must work together  more openly and honestly, so that we can heal wounds, reconcile resentments, and find healthy ways of loving one another to ensure that the people with AN can live long, joyful, lives; lives that can be dedicated to being disciples of Jesus.

*The National Eating Disorder Association has many resources to help people as they are supporting their loved ones recover from an eating disorder.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Guest Blog from: Anneliese of

Michelle Porter's introduction:
I discovered the blog and really enjoy the idea of Mennonite recipes being shared in a blog and now in a cookbook.  

The contributors describe their blog in the following way:
We are a group of ten women who share recipes and and our faith, with a purpose, inspiring hospitality while using our resources to help needy people around the world.  A simple recipe blog that started to document our family favorite recipes began in 2008 has resulted in two cookbooks.
Mennonite Girls Can Cook .. . is more than just recipes. 
We encourage you to think about HOSPITALITY versus entertaining. Our hope is that you find the joy in BLESSING versus impressing. 
Our recipes are about taking God's bounty, and co-creating the goodness from God's creation into something that we can use to bless family, friends and those who need a caring meal.  We take everyday ingredients to make recipes which will nourish, provide energy and delight our taste buds.

I contacted the women with a list of ideas about food, faith, being Mennonite, and eating disorders, and Anneliese found one of my questions intriguing and has written a guest blog.  

I appreciate her thoughtful response and hope that it encourages continued dialogue about eating disorders, food, and faith.

Food and Faith

Question: How did growing up in a Russian Mennonite family affect your relationship to food? Did your family come from a history of shortage? If so, how does that affect how you view food consumption/restriction now?

From Anneliese of

Growing up in a Mennonite home I knew that my mom would always have something prepared for meals. Even when she worked full-time, I never heard an excuse coming from her, saying she did not have time to cook.  There was not a lazy bone in her, the biblical meaning of which was lived out in both of my parents’ lives. She made things from scratch as much as possible, ever conscious of the cost of prepared foods. She prepared ahead by having keeping basic ingredients in the house, making soups, baking breads and preparing home-made food to pack for lunches. We did not grow up with snacking foods, when the meal was served we were hungry and the food was nourishing. Mealtimes were family times. We waited for each other and talked about our day. It was a time to connect.

My father and my grandmother went through food shortage and hunger in Russia during the war and later, in Germany, after the war. My father had to look for food in trash cans and my grandmother shared with me how her health suffered from lack of sugar and butter. I often take her words into consideration now, with the talk of how both are not good for you. The fact that hunger was something very real to my father played a big part in how he raised us. We were not allowed to complain about food and we were not allowed to throw food from our plate into the garbage. We were taught to give thanks for our food and to be grateful for full tummies.

This brings me to something I consider to be important in my view of food, be it consumption or restriction. I believe that the giving of thanks for what God has given plays a vital role in how food affects us. When we realize food is a gift from the One who provides for our needs, we will be careful about how we handle it. We will not try to find fault with it unnecessarily, be it the ever fluctuating views about foods or just plain pickiness, which shows ungratefulness. I believe that the giving of thanks can bless food to cleanse it in instances where we have no choice. There are times I question some of today’s dietary restrictions and where they are coming from. Obviously there are situations where it is very important to follow a certain diet, but sometimes our self induced diets can lead to a life of problems, stemming from some form of worry or ungratefulness, which is exactly where the enemy of our souls would have us be. So let us give thanks to Him who made the world along with the food we eat and blessed it, proclaiming it to be good.

Exodus 23: 25
“Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.”
1 Timothy 4:4
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”