When Your Body Speaks: Paying Attention to Food Cravings

Some time ago (in the pre-Covid era), I caught a doozy of a cold, leaving me with a stuffed head, chronically runny nose, sore throat and a bit of a cough. Bad enough for the first few days, but weeks later it seemed like it just wouldn’t go away.  I didn’t have the flu or strep throat or bronchitis, but the symptoms lingered. Finally, after weeks of getting more rest and watching my diet, it passed. During that time I ate lightly, (when I wasn’t sleeping,) but found myself throwing handfuls of thyme and garlic into virtually everything – from scrambled eggs to soup. It was a little bizarre, actually.

Now I know that garlic has all kinds of medicinal benefits, but I hadn’t really thought about thyme that way – I just “craved” the flavor. Then, just a few days ago, I saw a brief mention of the health benefits of thyme, and it clicked – I had been craving thyme and, at the same time, giving my body the medicine it wanted. A quick Google search showed that thyme is used to treat bronchitis and lung ailments, that it’s loaded with Vitamin C to fight colds, and that as a natural antibacterial is frequently used to fight infections, both internally and externally. It also can be used in dilution to treat skin wounds and acne, and is a natural antifungal.

I have learned over the years to listen to my food cravings, so long as they are not of the sugar or narcolepsy-inducing-carbohydrate variety.  A good rule of thumb is, “if it makes you sleepy, beware” (unless that’s what you want). Over the years I have listened to the impulse to throw mint in a salad when my stomach was upset, to buy a quart of keffir when my digestion was off, and to soak my itchy feet in a solution of tea tree oil – all of which led to immediate relief, forestalling any potentially serious issues. In each case I was not conscious of picking the medicine my body needed, I was simply listening to a craving. It was only after the fact, when I was feeling better, that I realized what I had done.

These are just a few examples that come to mind, but I’ve been listening to my body and researching the medicinal properties of food for years. I have a clear memory of being a little kid and craving apple cider vinegar for about two weeks. I would come home from school and pour a little bit into an egg cup and bolt it down before going to change into play clothes. Then the impulse passed and I forgot about it. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that apple cider vinegar is know to lower blood sugar, restore pH balance and boost the immune system. I still have no idea what my young body was trying to heal or regulate, but I know it made me feel better at the time. More important, I learned to listen to my body and what it was trying to tell me.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

This article was first published February 2019.


Visions of the Future

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Several years ago I had a vision of the future that transformed my life and helped me to determine what new career path to pursue. Leading into that moment was the fact that, at the age of 40, after years of working in computers, I was back at school. I was an adult returnee in my “senior” year at college and my three most favorite professors had each approached me about entering into their field of expertise: Asian Studies, the School of Journalism, and Psychology. What a wonderful compliment! — each thought that I would excel in their profession and offered me mentoring, contacts and references for further graduate work. I was both flattered and immobilized with indecision

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Tell Me A Story: Stirring Up Cellular Memories with Meditation

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I have been meditating for over twenty years now and find it an essential part of my life. Many have written about the substantial physical and emotional benefits, and while I’ve certainly found that to be the case, too, I’ve also noticed that there is a component of releasing “cellular memories” that is rarely addressed. People shy away from phenomena that are not so easily explained, but whether you call it “cellular memories,” “past lives,” or releasing “old patterns,” I have found that there is something extraordinary happening that also brings welcome relief to the body and the spirit.

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Helping Our Fellow Animals

| by Cheryl Shainmark

There is a growing movement to recognize what every pet owner and animal lover has known for years: that animals are capable of feeling most everything that humans feel. This, in turn, is part of what is driving the movement to a plant based diet, or more ethical treatment of animals raised for food consumption. In this model, the labels “organic,” “free range,” or “grass fed” are as much about the quality of life for these animals as it is about nutritional quality.

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A Few Thoughts About Thinking

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I recently finished reading “Anathem” by Neal Stephenson, for the second time, (not something I usually do) and I was struck by an offhand observation that the young main character makes about another man who may be hundreds of years old. At one point, the old man is chanting and holds the same note for hours, (clearly some kind of re-breathing technique), and the young man ponders what it’s like to have such a different notion of time that you would want to chant the same note for hours. Then he has the insight that a mind that has done that probably has very different thoughts from a mind that hasn’t.

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Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age

| by Cheryl Shainmark

In his new book Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age Feiler notes that the idea that we’ll have one job, one relationship, one source of happiness for most of our lives is outdated, and that we now live in a non-linear world that forces us to make transitions. While this trend has been occurring for some time, what is new right now is that the whole world is going through these transitions at once. How we face these life altering changes, and what tools we can use to help the process these events is at the core of this book.

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The Buddhist Soul in Me

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I am many things, but I am not a Buddhist. Still, every so often the secret Buddhist in my soul demands to be fed: lighting a little incense, placing a flower in a bowl like an offering, sweeping a spider out the door (instead of squishing it), or taking a day trip to the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, NY.

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The Booming Market for Meat Alternatives

| by Cheryl Shainmark

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Mediterranean Lentils: a Tasty Way to Get Your Protein

Inspired by a recipe from Diane Kochilas, the Greek-American food show host and cookbook author, this is one of my favorite vegetarian options for loading up on protein. Mediterranean lentils combine the warm spices of cumin and coriander with a surprising burst of vinegar and honey to create a tasty main dish that can be eaten hot or at room temperature. Cooked in two stages, on the stove and in the oven, this dish hearkens back to the ancient traditions of clay pot cooking practiced all around the Mediterranean for thousands of years.

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For the Common Good

| by Cheryl Shainmark

What is the common good? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy say that the common good “refers to those facilities—whether material, cultural or institutional—that the members of a community provide to all members in order to fulfill a relational obligation they all have to care for certain interests that they have in common.” Put more simply, it is whatever is for the benefit or interests of all.

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