“So if I like light sabers and you don’t, it’s OK,” my daughter concluded. It was the highlight of my long-winded lecture.

“Right!” I responded, beaming. Now, just apply that open-mindedness to all religions, races, political affiliations, sexual orientations, diets, cultural and geographic identities, fashion statements and birthday parties.

Whether we have kids or not, our opinions and perceptions affect our interactions.

In Shanghai, I once needed a lengthy sonogram and was sent to a local military hospital. I was so frightened I sobbed through the entire procedure, which couldn’t be interrupted, and I was facedown. Some 20 minutes later, a lab tech told me to sit up and handed me a tissue. “Foreigners,” she shrugged to her co-worker, who nodded.

I knew I was lucky. Their opinions didn’t compromise my access to or quality of care, and I was in no danger (there was no verbal or physical threat). I just happened to be feeling vulnerable, and this technically accurate comment didn’t help.

During my 11 years living in Shanghai, I spent a lot of time at Immigration. Some clerks challenged my every document, demanded I return on multiple occasions, and incredulously watched me beg for a visa; others refused to make eye contact with me and shoved papers as if to get rid of me; a few delightedly engaged with my kids. Again, I knew I was lucky: I wanted to and was allowed to stay in the country. But still, every time I entered that building, I felt ready for battle, defensive and judgmental, before I had taken a number and sat down.

Did this mindset ever help? Not once.

There was, and is, only one solution: eat more vegetables. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), when we feel inflexible, impatient, intolerant or unaccepting, we can eat less animal products, alcohol, spicy food and oil. We already have heat; we need sources of cold, of calm and reason.

Remember, drink some water and have some vegetables. In TCM, vegetables are a source of yin and promote:

  • Intuition (listening to your own voice, not external sources)
  • Observation (instead of reactivity and aggression)
  • Rest and relaxation (instead of fear and anxiety)
  • Forgiveness (instead of holding grudges)
  • And stability (not stasis, but not explosions either).

Vegetables also are unlikely to cause blood sugar spikes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, or injury to your teeth or skin. To top it off, they often are less expensive than fruit. So why not give them a try?

No. Says who?

Eat some vegetables, take a couple deep breaths, and be grateful. We have the luxury of disagreeing; we still have the chance to coexist.

In our varying ways, we have survived, and each of us can contribute to a safer world. Vegetables are just one springboard to calm; start there, and see what else manifests.

Trina Lion

Trina Lion is an acupuncturist at Mercy Medical Center and Sinai Hospital. She also treats adults and children privately in Mount Washington Village. She has lectured on Traditional Chinese Medicine at institutions ranging from NFL China to International Channel Shanghai (ICS-TV) to Yale University, and can be reached at trinaliontcm@gmail.com.



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