How can we learn to listen to what our body is really saying?
Maybe it's learning to accept we might not always like the answer
Happy December, Friends!
This is a thing people say, yes? December is supposed to be a time of good cheer, but I struggle with this time of year. I know I’m not alone, the holidays are a time of heightened emotion, expectations, change to routine, darkness and cold—at least here in the northern hemisphere. This year I am setting the intention to just allow December to be exactly what it is rather than trying to force good cheer and excitement—usually when I do this the difficult feelings have space to move through and sometimes something lovely will arise, like gratitude and acceptance.
Keep scrolling for a fast and healthy Cauliflower dish, a personal piece of writing about learning to listen to the body through her difficult relationship with eating, from my sister, Emily, an Embodied Cooking class for Broccoli Nachos, and finally a thank you to the Washington Post and an ask for you to check out the Pregnant Workers Rights Fairness Act. It’s a packed one!
We have been humming along with embodied Cooking classes. Every week we combine breath-work, meditation and mindfulness to create a calming state of mind and body that we can use to learn as well as take with us into the rest of our day. This past week we made Honey Garlic Salmon Soba Noodle Bowls, and we’ll be doing some baking as December rolls along.
My brilliant sister, Emily Brown, has gifted us with a beautiful piece about her troubled, but always-healing relationship with feeding herself. She is one of the funniest people I know while also being the most insightful and kind. Please let us know if it resonates.
Why on Earth Am I Gagging on my Favorite Foods?
By Emily Brown
A strange thing has been happening to me lately. I gag on food, a lot. And we’re not talking about gagging on a bad bit of gristle. I am talking about a croissant! One of my favorite foods on this planet! I could write poetry about a croissant.
This gagging is so strange and involuntary that it feels like my body yelling at me “you have to deal with your food stuff!” I am trying to listen.
When I was a small child I often found it hard to eat. I was sensitive. Textures, tastes and smells made me gag a lot. I did not like my mother’s cooking, but I was forced to choke it down anyway. It hurt my mum's feelings that I didn’t like her food and it made my father very angry that I was so uncooperative. It really is wild to think about how often we ask children to suppress what their body is doing just in the name of a grown-up’s feelings. Meal time was a warzone for me and the lasting result is a complicated relationship with food which someone else best described for me here.
I am very disconnected from what my body actually wants from me. This goes beyond just mealtime. For example, I one-time spiral fractured my foot. It hurt VERY badly but I did not want to make a fuss and ruin the evening for everyone so I tried to just push through the pain. Eventually, I caved and let my friends know that my foot was hurting very badly. The consensus amongst my pals was that it was probably just sprained (this is what happens when you downplay your pain). I had never seen a sprain so swollen but was assured it was still the most likely injury. I stayed for a few more hours but eventually went home when I couldn’t handle the pain publicly anymore. The next day I got up and went to work being a nanny looking after kids for 8 hours while dragging a dead limb around behind me. I couldn’t put any weight on it without feeling a shocking hot pain. When I returned home from work I decided I would go to the medical center the next day. This had gotten impossible to manage without help. Perhaps that would have been obvious to many 24 hours prior, but it wasn’t to me. I always tried to do things on my own first. I used to think this is what made me strong. The doctor took one look at my foot and said it was certainly broken and then chastised me for taking so long to seek care. It would be a long recovery since I had made it so much worse. Don’t put broken bones in hot tubs!
Perhaps you other people pleasers, middle kids, ADHD, queer, confused, sensitive, tired, traumatized people out there can relate. I am wired to look after other people and I am not so good at looking after myself. I sacrifice my needs before the perceived needs of others but I am learning how to care for myself better each day. I have to listen to my body first. And I have to accept that feeding myself is an area of my life where I have to start from the beginning. It can feel daunting.
Recently I was expressing frustration to my beautiful and sensitive roommate Sammy, about gagging and feeling like my body won’t even let me feed it. I was telling him how it always feels like force-feeding. He responded, “maybe you have to accept that it is force-feeding and at the same time accept that’s what’s best for you”. It was the exact right thing to say, validating, honest and not something I had been able to see. Sometimes we can’t see the whole picture of ourselves, that is why we need others, and we need to be ourselves with them so they can reflect reality back to us.
So I started following Sammy’s advice. I will gag, and instead of giving up I will pause and breathe. I will say to myself, “Hi sweetie. We can do this together. We can finish this banana. It’s what will make you feel better in the end I promise you”. And then I can eat the banana. Then I say “good job you did it and I am so proud of you”. Because I really am. There are so many things I am good at (truly my talents abound!) but feeding myself is just not one of them. It is important that I celebrate each win with myself because little Em is just learning how to eat. We are taking it step-by-step.
I love you, body, and I promise not to neglect you anymore. Thank you for always doing your best with me. Let’s go have some fun now.
Pan-fried Cauliflower with Tomatoes and Olives and an Egg on top
Serves 2 to 3
TL;DR: In a pan on medium high heat sauté the cauliflower in olive oil until brown. Add the garlic, tomatoes and olives and cook until tender. Adding water as needed. Clean out pan and fry enough eggs to feed however many you are serving. Serve over rice.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
salt, to taste
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
Tomatoes, baby or any kind, chopped (approximately 8 oz.)
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 to 3 Eggs (depending on serving size)
Brown Rice to serve
In a pan on medium high heat pour in 1 Tbsp olive oil and let it get hot. Add the cauliflower and spread out in the pan. Let sit stirring occasionally for 7 or 8 minutes until there is a bit of color on all sides. Salt to taste as you go along.
Add the garlic, tomatoes and olives into the pan and stir. They should release a lot of water and steam the cauliflower. Place a lid over the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Splash in a bit of water if the mixture gets too dry or sticky. Once the cauliflower is tender remove from the heat.
In a separate pan on after a quick clean of the cauliflower pan fry an egg or two in another Tbsp olive oil. Serve over top of the cauliflower, one egg per person you are serving.
Serve with brown rice for a full meal.
I was delighted to discover that the Washington Post Food Section named Good Enough one of its top Cookbooks of 2022! Such a lovely honor especially coming from a group of people I respect so much.
Lastly, I would like to bring your attention to an important initiative; The Pregnant Workers Rights Fairness Act. If you are moved, please take the time to send a message urging your senator to pass this important piece of legislation to protect pregnant people in the workspace. It’s incredible that this is still not the norm! The ACLU has made it very simple to make your voice heard, so just click through to this link.