Before Colleen Someck could start “dancing in the kitchen,” she had to learn to like food again. She survived an eating disorder that escalated when she was 19.

“I knew I had a problem because I was binging and purging and feeling guilty and ashamed,” Someck recounts. “I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t fix it.”

She had semi-successful recoveries but always relapsed. When she finally attempted to get help at a rehabilitation center, they turned her away because she wasn’t thin enough. So you can guess the damage that wrought.

“I can look back in hindsight and see that I wanted to punish myself. I felt less than, like I had no value,” Someck says. “Food … food was bad.”

She used extreme diets to mask her dysfunctional eating. She was macrobiotic for a while because it gave her an excuse to make small meals and avoid most readily available foods.

Someck describes her routine as exhausting. She was moody, hungry, and lonely. She didn’t have the energy she needed to get through the day, but she was still running miles every day in order to lose even more weight.

She doesn’t remember a last-straw or rock-bottom moment, but she remembers deciding that food is not bad. In the days that followed, her only goal was attempting to not purge or binge. The successful days stacked up, and eventually she knew her life had shifted.

“I think I was in recovery for 20-some-odd years,” Someck says. “So now, all food is good.”

Dancing in the Kitchen was her first cookbook in 2016. Her second is currently in the works. Most of the recipes are vegan, but she includes tips and suggestions about adding meat or eggs to certain recipes.

“You have to listen to your body. I’m not going to tell anyone that they can’t or shouldn’t eat something,” Someck says.

She describes herself as a flexitarian because she eats mainly vegetarian, but she no longer gets stuck on labels. If she orders soup and it turns out it was made with chicken broth, or if there’s birthday cake and everyone is celebrating, she doesn’t flip out or exclude herself. She says that if something doesn’t fit into what she normally eats and she wants to eat it, she does.

“I can’t play those mind games. I won’t do it,” she says. “I choose food that makes me feel the best that I can be. That’s it.”

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Favorite Restaurants: Lofty Coffee in Solana Beach, Cucina Enoteca, True Food Kitchen in La Jolla, Nectarine Grove, GOODONYA Organic Eatery

Go-to Favorites: cooked beans and grains, seasonal vegetables, mock tuna, quinoa for soups and salads

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