When My Body DMs Me
or, How I Learned to Listen to What My Body Needs and Love Bitter Foods Even Though They Make Me Involuntarily Scrunch Up My Face
Listening to my body
Even when it would’ve been easier to just tear into a bag of kettle chips
Last night after work, I got home kind of late, hungry for dinner.
I had just finished working all day and didn’t feel like cooking something that was going to require a big effort on my part.
I wanted a quick, easy meal.
A dinner suitable for a famished person who wished they’d been welcomed home from a long day’s work with a fresh, gluten-free, vegan dinner, lovingly prepared by their husband (or wife; I’m not picky, as evidenced by my severe dietary restrictions.)
Instead, I came home to a quiet, dim kitchen which was empty but for half an onion left out on the countertop.
My family had already fed themselves meat-and-gluten-filled sandwiches a couple of hours prior.
The onion had been partially utilized by my husband as a sandwich topping.
To be fair, I was grateful that said spouse and offspring had found a way to keep themselves from perishing of starvation while I was putting in time at my day job.
I took a deep breath and tuned in to my body.
It (my body) started to communicate: it was craving something raw, vegan, and unprocessed.
Something whole and nourishing.
Now usually, when I make salads, I strive for a pleasing balance of greens, sweeter veggies and/ or fruits, and maybe some protein in the form of nuts, seeds, or vegan cheese, to round things out.
But last night was different.
I realized that I was craving something unapologetically bitter.
Perhaps this was attributable in part to an understanding that bitters are good for the gall bladder and the liver.
More accurately, though, this simply seemed to be what my body felt like it needed; kind of like how after a hot yoga session, one’s body might feel the need for a shower.
It was sort of like my body was DM-ing me:
Hey, Lady! What up? Tonight would you please consume something outside of the range of your ordinary palette preferences?
It would feel cleansing and good, for me.
How could I deny such a request?
Urgently throwing something healthy together
Honoring the body’s needs while peckish
Weird though it was, I started by dicing up half of that half onion that had been left out and throwing it into a bowl.
I then pulled out the gloriously vibrant, excessively veiny swiss chard that was sitting in the fridge. I rinsed off a few big leaves and ripped them up, then tossed them into my bowl.
This did feel almost wrong somehow; the blood-red veins running through the large leaves were beautiful, yet alarmingly reminiscent of veinous tissue in animal flesh.
These greens seemed especially sensitive and alive.
I assured myself that they lacked a nervous system and that by being consumed they were fulfilling their purpose. If I didn’t eat them, they’d just turn wan and wilt in the refrigerator, (as a couple of the leaves of the bunch already had.)
I then chopped the intensely-colored red and yellow stalks into bite-sized bits with my fave kitchen knife.
Have you noticed?
The stalks of swiss chard are basically colorful, extra-intense-tasting celery.
When one has swiss chard, it’s a two-for-one special: hearty, leafy greens and interesting, more-earthy-than-ordinary “celery”.
Such are the thoughts of the Vegan brain…
Swiss chard happens to be an excellent source of Vitamin K. For those who supplement with Vitamin D3, Vitamin K is an important co-nutrient as it aids in the absorption and proper metabolism of D3.
My salad wasn’t finished!
My body was on a rampage — sending multiple “texts” demanding even more from my already pushed-past-its-comfort-zone, (and very hungry,) salad-making self!
I grabbed a big handful of the dense little leaves from a fresh bunch, ripped them from their stems in one fell swoop, rinsed them right there at the sink in the palms of my hands, wrung them out like a wet rag, shook off any excess water, and unceremoniously plopped them into the bowl!
Cilantro is good for removing heavy metals from the body and improving kidney function, or so I’ve heard, read, and experienced.
A few times when my kidneys and/ or bladder have seemed a little less-than-happy, I’ve found that consuming a generous amount of cilantro over the course of a few days really served to clear everything and restored a vital, healthy excretory flow.
Although the taste and fragrance of cilantro once disgusted me, and at first introduction even caused me to childishly scream, “Oh my God! It smells like soap! How can anyone eat that?!”, right in front of the poor farmer’s market vendor who’d probably poured heart and soul into growing it, I’ve come to appreciate its distinctive (and what I now consider to be cleansing and inviting) flavor.
The easiest tasty dressing
That happens to be gluten-free, vegan, preservative-free and packed with vitamin C
It was time to ‘dress’ this naked, more-bitter-than-a-once-enthused-Trump-supporter-who-has-finally-realized-that-DT-is-horrible-and-corrupt-and-will-never-help-them-in-any-way, (I almost wrote, more-bitter-than-a-multiple-times-divorced-older-woman, but that type of misogynist burn is soooo played out,) hastily prepared, pulsating-with-phytonutrients, space-oddity-in-a-bowl.
Did I choose to douse my quick and easy, heathy, raw salad with sweet, creamy, dairy-and-corn-syrup laden, MSG-laced ranch dressing?
Though this may have been tempting… of course not!
Instead, I simply sliced a lemon in half and squeezed fresh lemon juice all over those fine green vegan morsels of goodness.
A wanton drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a generous sprinkling of hemp hearts & iodized sea salt completed the ensemble.
My vegan bowl was now dressed to the nines, ready for world domination, or at least, suited up to lead the charge in a hostile multinational corporate takeover.
The salad didn’t deserve such slander.
It was innocent, see?
It was but a gentle, sweet (well actually very sour, but still sweet in the good-natured sense,) vegan salad, thrown together to help a weary, hardworking, middle-aged mom and wife to feel a little more energized, and a lot more calorically and nutritionally fulfilled.
Two snaps up in a circle, five stars, giant smiley face sticker, A+, et. al.
Notably, I very much enjoyed the tongue-curling and face-scrunching that this bowl-o-bitter induced as I wolfed it down.
I ate every bite and even tipped back my head in order to drink the salty-lemony-cilantro-y juice at the bottom of the bowl.
After eating my raw food, I felt energized enough to get up, tidy up the kitchen, talk with my kids, pet my dogs, hug my husband, and put the remaining quarter of the onion in the fridge.
I’d call that a victory.
There is a lot of noise out there in the world…
A big piece in mindfulness is about being able to ignore all the messages coming from the external world and really quiet the internal chatter of mind — thus allowing one to listen inwardly — a type of listening that doesn’t have much to do with one’s ears.
If your body ever texts, DMs, telegraphs, or semaphores you a message along the lines of, SOS — NEED VEGGIES PRONTO! THIS IS NOT A DRILL, REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL! —
Do yourself a favor and listen up, Babe!
Lumina Loveday is a yoga teacher, meditator, wife, and mom to three humans and two rescue dogs. At the age of ten, Lumina was given her first typewriter as a gift from her grandparents. It was a big, clunky Underwood. To write her first “books”, she had to press the keys really hard, but she didn’t mind. Perhaps Lumina’s grandparents, who were avid readers back in the 20th century, had a hunch about her writerly tendencies. Lumina lives with her family in Las Vegas, Nevada.