Weekend Reading, 4.7.19

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I used to write about digestion all the time on this blog, but
it’s been a while since the topic came up. It’s not that my
interest in GI health has waned—it hasn’t—but it’s become
more of a professional focus and less of a personal one, mostly
because my own struggles with IBS have receded over the years. Why?
Hard to say, but I suspect that consistent eating patterns (as
opposed to the extremes of my eating disorder years), plenty of
soluble fiber, and better coping skills with stress and anxiety
have a lot to do with it.

In recent years, mental health and emotional well-being have
been a bigger focus for me than digestion; the physical ailments I
cope with often have a strong psychosomatic overlay, which means
that mental health gets a lot of my attention even if I’m
presented with immediate physical complaints. This is all my way of
saying that digestive health has taken a backseat to the stuff that
feels more urgent to me, even if my intellectual curiosity about it
remains strong.

This week, I started my 5-week GI rotation. I was immediately
reminded that the gut is really what sparked my interest in health
and healthcare to begin with. I was also reminded of the fact that,
to date, supporting people through digestive illness is the
counseling work I’m most proud of. I suspect it’ll stay that

I’ve learned a lot already; my preceptor is a great dietitian
and a true digestive health expert, but she’s also an excellent
preceptor. She likes teaching, has a knack for it, and is generous
with her time and expertise. Writing notes under her tutelage is
humbling, but I’ve learned a lot from it already.

In addition to rekindling my interest in all things
gastroenterological, this rotation is also bringing me back to my
own experiences as a GI patient: first the long, drawn out struggle
with IBS and digestive woes post-anorexia, then the long and
mysterious bout of gastroenteritis (or so it was labeled—two GI
doctors and I never figured it out) that I had in the years
following my post-bacc. It is reminding me of how profound
digestive illness is, how vulnerable it has made me and makes
anyone who’s affected by it.

Digestion is the process that converts food into nourishment;
when it’s compromised, the whole business of eating becomes
vexed. Digestive ailments can cause particular kinds of anguish
around food, and the fear and anxiety they cause can linger long
after symptoms are actually resolved.

In my own work, I’ve often seen how digestive struggle and
disordered eating are, or become, intertwined; yes, eating
disorders usually leave a person with GI trouble, but it can work
the other way, too. Years of GI illness can make people prone to
all kinds of disordered eating.

Next year and in the years beyond, when I’m working one-on-one
with people again, I hope that I can make a small difference in the
lives of the many folks who are coping with digestive distress. I
hope I can do this not only because I want to make a difference in
my clients’ day-to-day quality of life, but also because
there’s symbolic importance in helping people to heal the
channels that allow them to take in food.

Here’s to four more weeks of learning more about how to do
this. And here’s to a new week. Here, too, are some recipes and


One of my nutrition goals for this year was to get more servings
of fruit into my diet. I’m doing a lousy job so far, but at my
last rotation a colleague of mine made a fruit salad with mint and
ginger that reminded me of what a good vehicle a snazzy fruit salad
can be! I love Liz’s colorful fruit
salad with maple dressing
, and she’s got some great tips on
assembling fruit salads in general.

The ever-talented Eva is inspiring me to try my first-ever,
vegan Massaman

A delicious vegan pizza with
naan as a base
. Can’t wait to try this, especially once
summery produce is in season.

vegan pasta and bean salad with tahini orange dressing
has my
name written all over it.

Finally, I make a point of never saying no to
a vegan blondie
. All the better if “cookies n’ cream” is
part of the description 🙂


1. The hospital where I did my oncology rotation was starting to
offer CAR T-cell therapy, which is a relatively new treatment for
leukemia and multiple myeloma. I found the process—in which the
body’s own T cells are converted into killer T cells that can
attack cancer—fascinating.
This article
details how it might be an option for the
treatment of solid tumors, too.

An interesting new report
has listed some of the best foods
that we can eat regularly in order to promote biodiversity.

NPR reports

3. Speaking of biodiversity, The Atlantic has
an interesting article on Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)
the fungus that has decimated frog populations and condemned more
species to extinction than any other pathogen.

4. Very important reporting on
how clinical trial data can be misrepresented
to patients.

5. I try to remind myself each day that a little bit of kindness
never hurt anybody, least of all me.
US News & World Report explains how acts of kindness benefit
both the giver and the recipient

In kindness, I’m signing off. I’ve got a creamy, nutritious,
and very simple soup recipe to share with you this coming week!


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Reading, 4.7.19
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Weekend Reading, 4.7.19