Food as Connection

Food as Medicine

Functional nutrition views food at 4 different levels – energy, information, connection and medicine.  

food is energy, information, connection and medicine

The level most often associated with food is energy, or calories.  In case you missed it, the following blog expands your mind regarding “Food as Energy”.

Food also provides us with information or instructions for the metabolic processes taking place within our bodies.  The information food contains will either support or challenge our natural ability to maintain health.

Food also represents connection.  Food connects us with many things including family, friends, our cultural backgrounds and celebrations. 

Food = connection

Humans are hard wired to connect.  Food is a common denominator in many, if not all, the connections we make.

friends eating together

Friends and Family

Food connects us with friends and family.  When we gather, food is often one of the focal points.  When we host, food is a way for us to express and show our love and appreciation for others.  When we eat out with friends, we often choose a favorite restaurant to further enhance the experience.  Or, we may choose a new restaurant to explore and experience with loved ones. 

Cooking with my niece

Cultural Backgrounds

Food connects us with who we are.  Families preparing meals together.  Sharing a relatives beloved dish.  Handing down traditional recipes for generations to come.  All beautiful ways in which food connects us to our roots and family members.

Celebrations and Ceremonies

Food also plays a large role in celebrations and ceremonies.  It is a big part of the event.  Sitting down and enjoying a meal together provides an opportunity to reconnect with people we have not seen in a while.  It also creates an opportunity to expand our social circle by meeting new people.

How We Feel

dog feeling great and rolling in the grass

There is also a connection between food and how we feel.  The hustle and bustle of our busy lives often does not lend time for us to think about the impact food has on our bodies.  Yet, different foods have different effects.  Food either supports or challenges our natural ability to maintain health.  Food that supports health and vitality makes us feel on top of our game and full of life. 

Dog not on top of game with ear flipped backwards

Food that challenges our health creates dysfunction and imbalance resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and an inability to fully participate in life.

How We Eat

There is also a connection between how we eat and the way food interacts with the body.  Meals eaten in stressful and tense environments are likely to activate the sympathetic nervous system, often referred to as our “fight or flight” survival mechanism.  Our bodies are unable to distinguish between being chased by a saber tooth tiger and chronic stress or tension.  In either situation, the sympathetic nervous system is triggered.  Bodily functions geared towards survival are prioritized.  Digestion and absorption are placed on the back burner.  Therefore, the foods consumed are not made fully available for the body to use to support metabolic process, optimal function and balance. 

Bottom line

Food as connection creates an amazing opportunity to promote health and fuel our vitality.  Here are a few suggestions on how to improve this relationship.

  • Find a pleasant environment in which to enjoy your meal
  • Take a break from electronics while you eat
  • Reinstitute or begin enjoying meals together with family
  • Gather with friends for dinner and embrace the conversation and time spent with loved ones
  • Notice how you feel after eating different meals