The old battle royale

It might just be me, but for much of my life I’ve felt my mind and body are at odds. They have different agendas – they’re almost different people. I’ve historically spent a lot of time in my mind, reading or doing crossword puzzles, and it’s only recently that I’ve experienced a reconnection with my body.

The body (well, the gut, if we’re being honest) can be a comfy place to stay for a lot of people, though it does do a lot of icky stuff we don’t like to think or talk about. It poops and pees. It hurts or gets tired. It gets hungry and it has cravings…

Oh yeah. About that. I’ve said before that only brains have cravings, so allow me to clarify. When your brain has a craving, it’ll point you to a specific food. For example, I recently had a craving for a meatball sub from Subway; very clear, very specific. I tried to sate that craving with a ‘better’ meatball sandwich from an Italian restaurant, and it didn’t work. I mean, I don’t want the Subway sandwich any more, but mostly because I can’t imagine eating again for a week.

Your body does have cravings, but they are way more general, and they’re usually for vegetables. On occasion, you’ll get your body singing with a nice, fresh bit of in-season fruit, but for the most part it loves vegetables.

“Singing?” you ask.

Well, that’s the point I was meandering towards.

When you satisfy a brain craving, you get a high. It’s very potent, so it’s easy to remember, but it’s short-lived. You end up in a cycle very much like that of a drug addict. Take a drug to get high. Come down. Take the same amount of drugs again to achieve the high, only to discover it’s not the same – you need more. On and on until you don’t even feel the high anymore, only the pain of withdrawal should you ever miss a dose.

When you satisfy a body craving, you feel good all over. It’s not just a fireworks show behind your eyes, impressive and gone in an instant. It’s more like a warming glow that starts in the belly and radiates out, satisfying and lasting. And it’s the same every time. No chasing a high, just a sensation so pleasant you want to roll around on the floor hugging yourself, with a big grin on your face.

You could have two meals of identical calorie counts, one heavy with meat and high in salt/sugar, and one made of vegetables with perhaps a little whole grain (or potato) to fill it out. They’ll both fill you up.

The first one’s gonna ping a bunch of reward centres in your brain, but it won’t last and you’ll feel like you ate a brick with mortar on it. I find that kind of fullness uncomfortable, if not outright painful.

The second one will have your whole body singing the Hallelujah Chorus for hours. You won’t just feel good, you’ll feel good about yourself for treating yourself so well.

I know, it sounds like a bunch of hippy nonsense. Body singing? Warm glowing? Preposterous! Then again, did you ever stop and wonder why there are all those stock photos of women laughing with salad?

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I don’t know. You tell me.

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