Monday, February 24, 2014

Inside the Mind of a Picky Eater

Picky, Picky Picky

Ask my siblings. They'll tell you that I was a major league picky eater as a kid. Most of my family would scarf down anything on their plate. There was the time when my next-older brother and I had a deal - I would take his peas when mom wasn't looking, and he would take my spinach the next time it was served. I think our dog got her RDA of vegetables under the table too. And over time, my picky, um, I mean, discerning palette has served me very well.

Bottom line -- I don't really know why I refuse to eat certain foods. Except that they taste terrible. Unbelievably bad. Like - How could anyone put that in their mouth? On purpose?

Food Fights

There were frequent food fights at the dinner table. Not as in throwing food. We were too uptight for that.

I'm talking about battles over whether I would eat something. I don't know remember the other kids in my large family being picky. But maybe I missed it. I don't know what the rest of the family thought. It didn't matter. Some things were just not meant to be eaten. Ever. By me. I didn't understand it any more than they did. And I didn't understand how other people could eat that.

Exasperated, one time my mother called me "Princess and the Pea"!

Bribes and Threats

There were bribes of brownies for dessert. Then it escalated to "You'll sit
there until you eat it." Where's the logic in that? It tastes even worse when it's cold! If I don't want to eat it hot, I sure won't want it when it's cold.

When that didn't work, def-con 3 was "You will have it for your breakfast." I just didn't care, I could go for a long time without eating if it meant that my meal had to be creamed corn. The thought of starvation was better than the taste of creamed corn. And the stomach pains that would follow, but I didn't know were connected.

Anyway, I guess my taste buds knew something and they were having none of it! Over the years my picky eating habits have proven to be quite healthy for me. I hated colas. I hated white bread. I didn't like red meat. My mother was feeding us the best balance that science told us at the time. And with a family history of heart disease on both sides, we never had cream sauces (except for the nightmare of creamed corn and creamed spinach) or fried foods. She knew her stuff. Or maybe it was just cheaper not to put cream sauce on everything. To this day, I really do not like greasy food, and I have my mom to thank for that.

Thank You Taste Buds

Sometimes I think I must have been a taster in a former life. You know, the person who tastes the king's food to make sure it's not poisoned. That would explain why I won't eat anything bitter. Apparently many toxins are bitter tasting. When I was in high school Chemistry class, the teacher passed around slips of what looked like litmus paper. He had us put them in our mouths. Instantly I cringed at the taste and was asking what the heck it was and why did he give us that. Everyone else in the class didn't get it. It tasted like paper. Turns out it was saccharin. Or maybe it was the stuff that gives saccharin its after-taste. Another thing I can thank my taste buds for. And my sense of smell. They have probably warned me to avoid all sorts of things. Like cigarette smoke. Like gasoline exhaust. I read somewhere the term "super-taster" applied to those of us who taste bitter more easily. That would explain a lot.

It's SAD, so sad.

You may have heard the acronym SAD for Standard American Diet. That's what we ate. And that's what I didn't like. I became a vegetarian at 17. I've been reading about nutrition ever since to make sure I get the right mix of nutrients. But I still have this thing with food...

It's the Cheese

Remember that TV commercial from a few decades ago with the refrain, "It's the cheese."? I think it was saying that's why it was so good. And it is. But when I have cheese these days and my stomach reminds me that it was a bad idea, I find myself saying, "It's the cheese." Turns out I'm allergic to dairy. Not lactose intolerant. Allergic to the protein in milk.

I gave up cheese years ago. I had already quit and started back several times before discovering that I am allergic. That explains the battles at mealtime. Mom wanted me to get my calcium. I was small for my age, and she was terrified that I was malnourished.

But I absolutely hated milk. And when my brothers came home from school and drank all the milk in the frig, she would make instant milk from powder. That was the absolute worst. I hated it. More than Spam. More than hash. More than the white part of a hard-boiled egg. I would not drink powdered milk. And don't even get me started on creamed spinach. I would have starved instead.

Well, except for cheese. And ice cream. But try sneaking milk into any vegetable dish, pie, soup, or casserole, and at the first taste my nose crinkled up and my tongue stuck out. No way! Eventually, I didn't even like ice cream because I could taste the milk. Yeah, I know. I'm weird.

Dairy is Addictive?

Over the years, I noticed that whenever I started eating cheese again after being away from it, it tasted really gross. That didn't deter me from eating pizza, cheese bread, garlic fries, pesto. Finally, I had to quit for my skin's sake. Since I stopped eating dairy, no more excema! It's worth it even though I loved cheese. But I still sneak a little once in a while. And then not long ago, I read the term casomorphin. There's actually something addictive in cheese. Holy smoke! You mean cheese is actually addictive? Actually... that explains a lot.

How About You?

What are your food aversions and food addictions? What do you do about them? Or do you just indulge them?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Making Worry Work for Me

I'm a worrier. Not a warrior, a worrier. Not as much as some people I've talked to, but I've had plenty of nights where I wake up at 3 am and my brain has it's way with me. Sometimes it's about something in the future, and sometimes it's about something in the past. So I decided to make worry work for me. I'm not talking about big problems, or clinical depression. Just those things that occasionally keep you awake at night.

Why Do We Worry?

I read that people born in the Fall tend to worry more and be more anxious. Something to do with how much sunlight our mothers received in their first trimester. But I don't have to let that stop me. I've also heard it said that worry is a negative use of the imagination. So why not make that imagination work for me instead of wearing me out?

Who's In Charge Here Anyway?

I'm starting to use my imagination to create a different way to think about the same thing. I mean, who's in control here anyway? My brain or me?

So if it's a small worry, like I am going to give a talk or sing in front of a group, I can rehearse it in a positive way. Instead of fretting away for that hour in the middle of the night, I am starting to steer my mind toward picturing the whole thing going beautifully.

This mental rehearsal will help me feel more confident, and let's face it, the lack of confidence is what
gets me worrying in the first place. So I rehearse it going well: breathing deeply and smiling at the joy of singing before going on, the music begins, remembering all the words to the song, hitting all the notes easily and joyfully, feeling really open and beaming out the love, enjoying it as fully as though no one were listening. Only better, because people feel the joy and love it. People enjoying it and humming or singing the tune as they leave. When I think of it like that, there's no room for worry. I could think about how good it will get instead of how bad it could get.

So maybe you're not a singer. Maybe for you it's a job interview. Or not having a job. Or a fight with you significant other. If it's hard for you to imagine a better scenario than the one your worrying mind cooks up, then call a good friend who can boost your spirits and your confidence. Then rehearse the picture they have of you. This is what a Prayer Practitioner can do for you - see beyond the apparent condition or problem or worry to the Truth of who you are.

Schedule Your Worry

You can also set aside time during the day to think about what you know will be on your mind in the middle of the night. In other words, plan your worrying. Give yourself a set time like 5 minutes. Then rehearse everything going right. And if that's hard to do, call someone or get support to help see it differently. There are also free resources for when you need help out of worry or stress.If it's a small worry, then sometimes a walk in the sunshine helps.

How About You?

How do you deal with worry?
Did this seem helpful?

Monday, February 10, 2014

All You Need Is Love

So it's February, and if you've been to a grocery store in the past month, you've been seeing Valentine's Day cards, candy, and decorations all that time.
In our culture, we tend to think of love as a commodity. Something you get "out there" rather than something that's inside us all along.

So as a special treat for Valentine's Day, here are some images and poems that may elicit  that feeling in you.

Whether you are part of a couple or not,
I invite you to fall into Love today and always.

I Will Just Say This

 We bloomed in Spring.
Our bodies are the leaves of God.
The appareent seasons of life and death our eyes can suffer;
but our souls, dear, I will just say this forthright: they are God Itself,
we will never perish unless He does.

- St Teresa

This Sky

Where we live
Is no place to lose your wings.

So love, love,

        -  Hafiz

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is not the length of life, but the depth.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
     - Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.
     - Emily Dickinson

Not knowing when the dawn will come
I open every door.
     - Emily Dickinson

Monday, February 3, 2014

We're Not As Separate As We Thought

Are you really who you think you are? And are you really separate? 

OK, I'm going to get a bit philosophical here... I heard about something recently that blew my mind. It explains on a cellular level that we really are all one. It's called chimera (pronounced chim - era). And specifically micro-chimeras -- cells that aren't yours floating around your body. Seriously.


According to Wikipedia, "Microchimerism is the presence of a small number of cells that are genetically distinct from those of the host individual. Most people are born with a few cells genetically identical to their mothers'." They don't mention the father. But that's another story altogether...

The speaker I heard said that it's not all that uncommon for a woman to carry twins, and for one to be absorbed by the other early in fetal development. You know, when you are just a clump of cells. (Makes ya wonder. If you've always felt something was missing...)

You Really Are Partly Your Mother

In other words, in utero, we get some of our mother's cells. And the mother gets some of her child's cells. And what's more, I have some cells from my older siblings as well.We are more connected than we realize.

So think about it. Your mother has some cells from her mother, and so on back through the generations. (Thinking of stories of near-death experiences, I wonder if that's how those relatives recognize us when we cross over at death.)

So How Far Does This Go?

But then I really started tripping on the idea. So I might have a few cells from each guy I kissed in my life. And they have cells of everyone they've been with. You can see where this is going. Everyone you held hands with at church. Breathing the air of everyone who you stood close to in a conversation. I mean, that's how colds are passed, right?

You have probably heard the equally mind-blowing fact that the air molecules you are breathing were previously breathed by someone else. At some point, you have breathed air molecules that were breathed by Jesus, Buddha, and everyone else on the planet.

So, a cellular level, we just might have some molecules or cells from a large part of humanity. So the terms "Human family" and "global community" take on a whole new connotation.

And a friend who used recreational drugs back in the day said he figured that out on his first trip.

All You Need Is Love

So the next time I see someone who I think is too different to relate to, or I am not feeling the good vibrations, maybe I'll remember this and take a breath to open my mind a bit more.

So if you feel alone with all the Valentine's Day hype, remember that you just might have a tiny bit of a whole lot of people in you. So you aren't really alone.