But occasionally even relatively ‘unhealthy’ food can be the best medicine IF given, received and enjoyed with love.
Please let me explain by sharing what happened recently when a flustered new neighbour hammered on my door.
She had an emergency to deal with, and asked if I could briefly look after her sick son, Leroy, until her friend arrived. Without waiting for my answer she disappeared, leaving a miserable looking five year old scowling on my doorstep.
A few minutes later Leroy was propped up with colourful cushions on my coach. I tried to discover what was wrong. He wouldn’t talk. He just sulked. But from the constant loud sniffles, splutters, sneezes, and sweating pink face, words appeared to be unnecessary anyway.
I went into my kitchen to see what ‘healthy’ goodies I could rustle up quickly to both lessen his symptoms and put a smile on his face.
Now that was a challenge!
After all, to a five year old, my definition of ‘healthy goodies’ probably didn’t match his. Also, I knew so little about the lad and his health.
By now he was sobbing loudly. What to do?
I dashed back to hug him sniffles and all. He pushed me away. But his eyes pleaded….
I knew that I was ‘supposed’ to give him all manner of healthy immune boosting nutrients is an easily digestible form…like a fresh fruit Vit C smoothie or a warm bowl of vegetable broth. Plus lots of pure water.
Intuitively I sensed that this little boy wasn’t craving nutrition. He was craving emotional nourishment.
Despite his initial protests, I held him in my arms and rocked him back and forth. After a while, with sad soulful eyes he looked up at me with a crooked smile and started to talk. And talk. And talk!
Suddenly he jumped up and ran into my kitchen. Clearly disappointed with my mostly raw savoury fare, he made one last forage into the back cupboard. Then he yelped. The joy on his face….
He had discovered my stash of chocolate!
We spent the next few minutes having fun preparing a rich creamy hot chocolate. Or two….
His huge grin, and dark frothy moustaches on both our faces creased us up with laughter.
No more sniffles or sulks.
I realised that it’s not always what you eat that really matters, but how you feel about eating, which determines the effects on you.
You see, I wanted him to feel comforted and cared for, not upset by being force fed broccoli and carrots.
If hot chocolate made him feel great, is that such a sin? Not in moderation, and if the intent is benevolent. Especially if it’s dark quality cacao!
After all, countless studies (refs 1-3) show how our thoughts and emotions affect our health and the way we heal.
Specifically the field of Mind-Body Medicine and Nutrition (refs 1-3) suggests how our thoughts, feelings and beliefs impact nutritional metabolism and health. It also shows how the social, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of life can influence how we digest and assimilate a meal, including how we burn calories.
As for Leroy? He’s fine. His mom asked me “what did you do?”
I laughingly replied “A loving dose of hot chocolate.”
The more erudite answer would be something like this by Dr Hans Selye, the man who coined the word “stress” and first mapped out its biological effects:
“The modern physician should know as much about emotions and thoughts
as about disease symptoms and drugs.”
Perhaps then a dose of TLC can be the best medicine at times?
What really nourishes you?