Let me start by saying I think I have become one of those people I used to make fun of. Comedian Ron White has a set where he talks about a friend of his who moved from Texas to California and went vegetarian. After a meal his friend was complaining that there must have been beef broth in his vegetarian soup because he felt ill. Ron’s reply was to question his friend’s manhood because his friend was “brought down” by broth.
About three years ago I gave up dairy. I’m not allergic and it has nothing to do with production methods, treatment of any animal in the processing or any other philosophical belief. It’s about how I feel after consuming dairy. While at a restaurant, I ordered a meal and asked to have the cheese left out. Someone at the table asked how long I had been dairy intolerant. I replied I wasn’t and got a very confused look in response.
Now how do those two things get tied together you may be asking. It’s because there is a perception that because our bodies reject something, we are somehow weak or it must be due to some allergy or disease. And for some, that may be true. But for others, it isn’t a weakness, it is awareness.
Awareness of what our body needs. Awareness of what builds our body and what harms it. These things are not a weakness, but a strength. Yes, I do see how it can appear to be a weakness in that the effects of these choices are felt at a conscious level instead of being just part of the “normal” malaise of daily life. These effects that I’m talking about are warning signs and not debilitating illnesses. At least not usually.
The impact and the resulting choices are conscious, and that is what is key here. A good friend of mine and devoted beer drinker recently gave up beer and switched to wine as the drink of choice. This was prompted by a visit to the doctor for chronic stomach aches and a constant bloated feeling. After giving up the beer, they lost about 25 pounds, they stopped feeling bloated and the stomach aches ceased.
One evening out, they switched back to beer, just to see what would happen. They felt bloated, stuffed and sluggish for the entire next day. This was after just a couple of beers, not a drunken binge. They related to me how they realized that this was what they felt like all the time before, but it was just “normal.” As much as they missed the beer, they didn’t miss the aching body. This was a conscious choice prompted by increased awareness of what the beer was doing to their body, not them being weak in some way.
This got me thinking about all the other foods that I’ve given up or added over the years. I went through my inventory and made a mental connection between how I felt before and how I felt after adding or removing the food. Each time I felt better. Whether it was feeling more energetic, less blah, more calm or whatever, I always felt better.
Realizing this in my own body, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the intuitive knowledge of the human body. It has an amazing facility to understand when the food we feed it isn’t good for it and to send signals back to us to knock it off, followed by signals for what it needs. It also allowed me to realize that it isn’t always about giving something up. I’m in the process of moving to a seasonal diet; eating primarily foods that are in season (no peaches in December unfortunately). The changes so far are pretty profound for me.
What I’ve also discovered is that with all the distractions, being busy and over scheduled, those signals get missed until the body just can’t cope and starts to send stronger signals or break down. So is it possible that someone can be brought to their knees by broth alone? Not typically (allergies excluded), but being aware of the body’s signals telling us that whatever that was, isn’t what is needed or isn’t good for us can be mistaken as a weakness.
I believe it’s actually a strength. Cultivating the dialogue with our bodies allows us to take the best care of it and properly maintain it to keep it healthy and active. I’ve known people who can tell just by listening to a car idle that something is off. I encourage you to develop that same connection with your own body. It can help keep you healthier and happier, even if you have to give up beef broth.