Table for One

Yesterday I had a stressful work day and, as soon as I could escape it, I grabbed my Ipod and went out for one of my walk-runs. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and the sun was still strong. I listened to Songs of Freedom and had a really big smile on my face thinking about my loved ones. It was an amazing hour of peace after a day of work chaos. As I was crossing the street a block from my home, I realized a woman was yelling at me from across the street. I turned my music down to hear her scream at me “your face is so ugly, I bet you never get sick!!” She seemed to feel very adamant about this.
All I could think was “cool, i don’t want to get sick.” And I laughed at how ones view of health changes after losing it for a while. One thing is for sure, people seem extra stressed out right now. That seems perfectly natural given all things in the news but I want no part of it. Then I turned my music back up, went back home for a shower and took myself out to a nice early dinner with a book. I’ve started doing that more often. My old pain psychologist used to encourage me to take myself out and just enjoy food and sounds, that it would trigger calm in me and the pain would lessen.
I was not in pain yesterday but certainly craved calm. Chardonnay, a beet salad with goat cheese, a beautiful patio and a book. Total bliss. I used to only do this when I was already in so much pain that it only helped a little. But now I do it because I love it. It’s no longer weird for me. And I think it helps me get and sustain calm. RSD people seem to have the out of whack sympathetic response and so things that trigger the parasympathetic will calm us. Dining alone seems to do it. Turns out it might be really good for digestion and absorption of nutrients to boot.

“Going beyond just chewing food well, ridding of all distractions is another fantastic way to improve digestion. Why? Because our autonomic nervous system, which controls activities of our organs, glands, and involuntary muscles, operates in two states:
1) Parasympathetic: Activates tranquil functions, like stimulating the secretion of saliva or digestive enzymes in the stomach.
2) Sympathetic: Stimulates activites that prepare the body for action, like increasing the heart rate, increasing the release of sugar from the liver into the blood, and other fight-or-flight responses.
When we are distracted while eating (even if we don’t think we are), our bodies switch to the sympathetic state, diverting attention from the release of important digestive enzymes and general digestive functions. This prepares the body for action (like running away from a lion). The result? Digestion and absorption of nutrients are impaired. And that’s pretty much the worst combination…. Not being able to properly digest food, which affects the assimilation of nutrients that our body actually uses. Not good.”

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