When I was younger, as I would sit down to eat whatever meal my mom had prepared for me, I would pause and stare at my food for a moment. Then, after blessing the meal, I'd start to eat. In mid chew, I'd look at my mom and ask, "Was this made with love?" And she'd chuckle and say, "Yes, of course! I always make food for you with love." And some how when I continued on with my eating, the food tasted a little bit better.
Have you had a similar experience? Maybe you've got a favorite dish because it reminds you of when your family would celebrate your birthday or a specific holiday. Or perhaps you have a certain kind of disdain for a particular food because every time you ate it, it was during a rough time of life. Environment plays a role in how we experience food. I've heard that people will choose restaurants for meetings based on the sort of meeting it will be. If they know they've got a challenging conversation before them, they'll go to a restuarant they plan not to return to. But if they are going to have a pleasant conversation with an old friend, they go to they're favorite joint.
It's funny how the people we're with affect the way we enjoy our food. A major reason to slow down before and during a meal is to imrpove digestion. Our mood has a big part in the way our food is processed. You might be familiar with the discomfort of an upset stomach as a result of being rushed or stressed.
Even more profound than mood's affect on digestion is the affect love and authentic relationship has on our overall health.
I'm sure a few of you thought this post was about the love shared in a couple's relationship. But that's only one option amongst many. Though I'm married, singleness was not that long ago. The experience is fresh in my mind. I won't go into my whole spiel about why that season is vital and valuable, but I will say one thing. Whether we're single, dating, or married, we all need to be in a life giving community.
I was recently listening to a doctor talk about the power of our mind and how it activates our self-healing properties when we're in a restful and joyful state. She talked about a small town in Rosetto, Pennsylvania that had little to no cases of heart disease. They were extensively studied to find out what they did to experience such great health. Bloodwork, diet, genetics, and more were all evaluated and looked at.
Long story short, it turned out that their eating habits were terrible, and their genetics did not prove to be anything special. The conclusion of the study was that they were nourished by people! (1) The aspect of their lives that stood out from those in other cities was their relationship to one another. They had intergenerational homes, they all attended church together, and there were none who were not included in the community.
I love that! It makes so much sense to me. Sure, it's important to eat well, exercise, and supplement - but we can be doing those things and still be depressed, lonely, and disconnected. We can have a kale smoothie every morning and still be stressed, overworked, and lacking in fulfillment. The sad thing about this study was that after a few years, this healthy communtiy began to adapt to the "American way", becoming inundated with busyness and individualism, and their health numbers began to match those of the surrounding cities.
We are made for relationship; to be loved, accepted, valued... to be told that we matter to someone else. Our health and quality of life cannot thrive without genunine relationship with others.
Nutrition is more than food. With moving to a new area and building up community from scratch, I have become all the more convinced of the impact a tight knit community can have.
Consider your relationships, your job satisfaction, your stress levels, and your time to rest. Do you have the time you need with those you love?
I hope you find yourself in good company. May God's love fill you and overflow into the lives of others! Never underestimate what a smile or gesture might do for someone else.