Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oxytocin and the Family Table

A family get-together around Nancy's table.

My big sister is guest-posting for me today. Nancy is a Marriage and Family therapist in California. She is passionate about family and taught me everything about nurturing. She not only loved and nurtured me growing up but gave me wonderful tools with which to nurture my own family. Here she writes about the importance of the family table!

Nancy, cutting a piece of her famous Huckleberry Pie, a recipe handed down to us by our grandmother.

Oxytocin: The Chemical of Love.

Did you know that when you share a meal with another person that you not only get to nourish your body, but also your mind and soul? Good conversation stimulates healthy brain function and development. In addition, we also release a hormone called oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the "cuddle chemical" or the bonding hormone. Oxytocin is released in large amounts at important bonding times, such as when a woman gives birth, and nurses her baby, and in smaller amounts when we hug each other.

Oxytocin leads to feelings of well-being, relaxation, and helps the gut to function better during digestion.

Many studies have shown that when families share regular meals there is more healthy connection. In addition, when children grow up enjoying these meals with parents, they are less likely to experiment with nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs. The risk of developing eating disorders is lower for adolescents who eat with their families. Grades are consistently higher for children and adolescents in families where mealtimes are made a priority.

To make the most of mealtimes, it is good to unplug—turn the TV off, no cell phones (especially texting) or other electronic interruptions. This is such an important time for families to enjoy each other as parents teach values and ideas and encourage children of all ages to form their own ideas as well as to share about how the day went and the important events that impacted each family member.

Bon appetite!

Nancy Williams, MA, IBCLC, CCE
Marriage and Family Therapist
Joyce's Big Sister

No comments:

Post a Comment