By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist
It’s Valentine’s Day and celebrations of love are here! Everywhere we look there are boxes of chocolates, candy, jewelry, new cars with big red bows and other modern day symbols of affection and love. These gifts have come to represent a way for us to show the people who matter most that we care. But do they really get the job done?
Whether or not chocolate fosters feelings of love is certainly up for debate. Our highly processed versions of this ancient food are nothing like its original form although it is getting easier to find chocolate bars with a high percentage of anti-oxidant rich cacao. It’s no wonder we sometimes crave this decadent treat. Certain compounds in chocolate are thought to be metabolized into serotonin (a mood hormone) as well as other endorphins, and when eaten in moderation, it may even lower blood pressure.*
Throughout history, food has served not only as a means of sustenance but also as an expression of care and love. The word nourish dates back to the 14th century where its meaning in Middle English and Sanskrit is translated as damp or it drips. Nourish also comes from the Latin word, nutrire which means to promote growth, feed, care for, nurture.**
The very first way we show love, protection and care for another human is through feeding. This is a mother’s first act the moment her baby is born. Nursing a newborn not only nourishes the baby but also the mom, as mood-elevating hormones that promote bonding and connection like prolactin oxytocin are circulated. Dads can also produce prolactin from holding and caring for their newborn.*** Nursing your newborn is a very emotional, beautiful and special thing. Throughout history, moms everywhere want to be sure their child is eating well and will often ask and encourage them to do so repeatedly (sometimes we call this nagging but it’s really just persistence and love). Feeding and caring for pets is another way to nurture both your favorite animal and your own spirit.
Putting time and attention into food preparation for our family, friends and ourselves is truly an expression of love and care, though often it’s sadly seen as a burden in our fast-paced western culture. Self-care with proper nourishment is important not only for wellness but also for happiness. One could argue that the act of thoughtfully choosing, cleaning and preparing foods is the ultimate form of love. This act can connect humans around the globe, linking us across cultures and also to our rich and shared heritage of generations of ancestors over thousands of years. Food acquisition and preparation, especially cooking, is an integral part of what makes us human. It is so important to preserve this way of being in the face of a convenience-based lifestyle. Yesterday, my oldest son turned 7 and asked that we make homemade cupcakes from scratch together for his birthday party rather than ordering a cake from a store. I immediately teared up! It was the best gift he could have given me for Valentine’s Day.
Plant foods are known to be among the most nourishing, thanks to their nutrient density.**** Eating and drinking plants can be a way to nurture and care for our own body, mind and spirit. A Reboot filled with nourishing vegetables, fruits and other plant foods is the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!
This Valentine’s Day, show that someone special you love them with nourishment, like a chilled glass of fresh juice. Take a moment to make one for yourself and demonstrate an act of kindness and self compassion.
Here’s a simple love potion and what’s in my glass this Valentine’s Day:
Nourishing Red Juice
1 wedge purple cabbage
1” ginger and squeeze of lemon (optional)
Wishing you all a wonderful day filled with love, wellness and lots of nutrients!