For The Love of Food
Dating back to the Greek Empire, food and dining as a group has been viewed as a way of enjoying company and conviviality. This trend of embracing the experience and not just the cuisine continued throughout the Roman era, where convivium (Roman dinner party) became a pillar of everyday life. Despite society having come a long way since then, not much has changed with regards to this practice.
As per Professor Ayelet Fishbach’s 2016 study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, colleagues who ate similar food together experienced higher rates of closeness and trust, as compared to those who ate alone. She wrote in the study, “People tend to think that they use logic to make decisions, and they are largely unaware that food preferences can influence their thinking… On a very basic level, food can be used strategically to help people work together and build trust.”
The more we research and experience, the more we see that food is at the heart of love, community, and relationships.
Food and Family
Families that eat together, stay together. Discussing the day and events over a meal has long been an effective way to stay connected with family members. Sitting around the dinner table allows you to chat and learn about each other’s lives. This bond is beneficial for the overall well-being of everyone. According to a study, the frequency of shared family meals is strongly linked to the nutritional health in children and adolescents. Children and adolescents who share 3 or more family meals per week are more likely to be within a normal weight range, and have healthier eating and dieting patterns than those share fewer than 3 family meals together.
Food and Culture
Food is an integral part of all cultures. Immigrants not only resort to the food of their native lands to cope with homesickness, but also share it with people in their new home as a means to integrate and connect with them. Cuisine-specific feasts are an excellent way to introduce your community and loved ones to the culture and the historical significance attached to the food, as it acts as an expression of one’s cultural identity.
Food and Tradition
Within the walls of every home, there are traditions that surround all special family gatherings and holidays. They bring a family together to celebrate as one, year after year. Cooking holds a magical ability to continue these traditions through generations and for the same reason, the majority of these traditions revolve around food. With the grandparents and kids coming together to prepare and share dinners, special moments are created. Young members of the family hope to recreate these moments, as elders pass down treasured heirloom recipes. Even some of the world’s greatest chefs list their mothers and grandmothers as their biggest source of inspiration.
Food and Self
Self-love, emotional well-being, and eating behaviour create a cyclical pattern. What and how much food is consumed affects the way a person feels, and vice versa. Besides fueling the body, food has an impact on the mental and emotional state of a person. Most of the people eat for reasons besides sustaining themselves. They eat for comfort and for pleasure. They eat to celebrate or to grieve. They eat to embrace the smallest moment and to numb deep emotions. One’s relationship with food is a direct reflection of their relationship with themselves and therefore, food plays a critical role in one’s quest for self-love and self-confidence.
Food and Romance
Food and romance, romance and food – it’s impossible to separate these two entities. From the first date to the heartbreak and everything in between, food plays a critical role in all stages of love. Similar to attraction, scientists believe that food and love are interlinked because they both produce the same reward hormones, like norepinephrine and dopamine, which make us feel pleasure and happiness. As Valentine’s Day kicks in, stores stock up with chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, wine sales explode, and people go above and beyond to impress their partners with their cooking skills (or lack thereof!). As per Maryanne Fisher, an associate professor of psychology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, “Food is a way to display skills to a potential mate.”
As we find ourselves celebrating another Valentine’s Day this year, a day devoted to displays of love and affection, it’s interesting to think of all the ways we show that affection with food. How does food play a role in your community and relationships?
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