About Liv’s Recovery Kitchen
By Olivia Pennelle
Liv’s Recovery Kitchen was founded in January 2015. Its initial purpose was to share my journey of healing my body and my experience of navigating how to thrive in recovery.
In my first two years of recovery I was ill, mentally and physically exhausted, and carrying around a 300-pound body. My life felt like it consisted of endless meetings in church basements telling sad stories, and working at a dull and meaningless job. I lacked any sense of purpose. And I felt completely lost. Each day was punctuated by uncontrollable food binges with calorie-and fat-laden foods that provided only momentary relief, but were followed by long-lasting self-loathing. I couldn’t accept this as a recovery that I wanted. It didn’t represent a life of freedom to me. I certainly wasn't thriving — I was existing, just doing it without the anesthesia of four bottles of wine a day.
My recovery was self-limited because I was recovering in a way that required me to consider myself as broken and defective. I felt like I was being squashed into a box — the humble box — and I felt completely disempowered. While I didn’t want to return to drinking, this also wasn't a life I wanted.
As a woman who is inherently curious and likes to look at alternative perspectives, I started to explore living with meaning, purpose, and freedom. I wanted to feel empowered to make life choices that were right for my recovery. I knew that life was out there for me. I just had to find it.
I first explored how to heal my body. At that point in my recovery, I couldn't fathom why 12-step programs only focused on the spiritual and mental aspect of recovery, but excluded one crucial element: the body. As I began to realize this, I started to observe how many sugar-laden snacks and caffeinated drinks were a staple of any 12-step meeting. I started to see that my patterns around food were driven by a desire to escape my life and my trauma.
I started exploring others’ relationship with food and how they recover. I interviewed more than 70 people and read many books on food, disordered eating, and holistic wellness. I even trained as a health coach. I became a sponge soaking up any information I could get my hands on.
I became fascinated by the relationship between food and mood, and how living well enhances our recovery. The more I researched, the more I began to see the unique challenges people in recovery face in relation to food, how our brain operates, and why we make the food choices we do. I saw why we manifest compulsive behaviors, particularly in early recovery, and why we become trapped in a body we hate while still being unable to stop eating. I started writing about these revelations in well-known publications, and it was then that I finally started to feel a sense of meaning and purpose in my life.
I’m now over six years in recovery. I’ve lost 6o pounds and I’ve completely transformed my approach to recovery.
What’s more, I gave up my menial jobs, relocated to the United States and began writing about recovery and wellness full-time.
My mission with Liv’s Recovery Kitchen is to bring you all that I’ve learned about wellness, neurobiology, and addiction, because I want you to know that:
- Recovery doesn’t have to be confined to someone else’s mindset — there are many pathways of recovery.
- Health — and more importantly, self-worth — is not represented by a number on a scale.
- Recovery can be as empowering as you want it to be. You are anything but powerless.
- Recovery is most effective when it is holistic. Caring for your body is equally as important as mental and spiritual health.
I want you to know that you can feel amazing and you can direct a recovery program that works for you. That doesn’t mean going on fad or restrictive diets. Rather, I promote a model of recovery that is informed and self-directed in terms of what you eat, how you move, and how you nourish your mind as well as your body.
You can follow LRK on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. I also host FREE Facebook groups for women who struggle with food, for people who are curious about a life outside of 12-step fellowships, and for sober women in Portland. Sign up here to keep up-to-date with events, news, articles, and tools–including my FREE ebook, menu planner, and emotional eating cheat sheet.
More about Liv
I live in Portland, OR. My story has been featured in many online and print publications as well as in podcasts, and you can also read it here. I am a regular writer for a number of worldwide recovery-related websites and podcasts. I’ve spoken at BlogOnUK, Manchester Girl Geeks, She Does The City, and the She Recovers Recovering Out Loud Panel in Toronto.
I was recently featured in Vice.
My Story in Vice
"In March 2012, Olivia Pennelle woke up shaking on her bathroom floor. She had somehow injured herself; her feet were bloody. She couldn’t say exactly how long she’d been lying there. Her apartment was in complete chaos, littered with empty bottles and cigarette butts. “An absolute disaster,” Pennelle says. That’s what her life looked like after she downed 14 bottles of wine—about 84 standard drinks—and a packet of codeine pills in as little as two days." Read more