How Breaking Bread and Neurochemistry Build Community

Community Nourishment, Nourishing Community

Breaking Bread, Bread and Salt, The Agape Meal, Eucharist, Seder etc.; all religions, races and communities, in all places around the world, eat together as a symbol of hospitality, love, gratitude and togetherness.

Celebrations include food and, for most people around the world today and for most of our history, just having food is a celebration! On the other hand, withholding food; fasting, is used as a method for spiritual cleansing. Food is part of ritual and food can be made into ritual.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Luncheon of the Boating Party
Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Luncheon of the Boating Party

Religions use food commandments: which foods are required and which ones are prohibited, to delineate what’s right and what’s wrong, whether you’re included or excluded, rewarded or judged. Modern dietary convictions (vegetarian, vegan, Paleo etc.) can have a side effect of doing the same!

Food and eating together are tribal behavior, herd behavior, community-building and community-maintaining behavior.

Virtually all languages have references to “emotional eating”, “gut feelings”, “butterflies in your stomach”, “shitting your pants” etc. What are these connections between our emotional, spiritual experience and our gut?

Tobin Photography
Tobin Photography

The Emotional Brain

Dr. Michael D. Gershon coined the term “The Second Brain” when describing the Enteric Nervous System. The Enteric Nervous System is the independently functioning nervous system of the gut that connects to the Central Nervous System via the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve in turn connects to the limbic system and the limbic system is the part of the brain that, among other autonomic functions, processes memory and emotion.

This is why emotions affect when, how much and what food we crave. This is why emotions affect allergic reactions, metabolism and digestion. Eating disorders are psychological/emotional in nature. How about constipation, IBS and even acid reflux?

90% of our Serotonin and 50% of our Dopamine are found in the gut! These are powerful neurotransmitters involved in craving and reward, the basic operating system of survival and also of addiction… (more about that in another blog or workshop).

As above, so below!

The limbic brain affects our gut, the foods we eat, parasites, toxins etc. in our gut in turn affect cognitive function and mood (there is even research being done in the connection to autism etc.)!

Community: the human herd

As mentioned before, we humans function in community, in tribes, in nations, in teams, in religions, in groups; in herds.

A third, important neurotransmitter involved in our relationship to food is Oxytocin. We commonly refer to Oxytocin as “the bonding chemical”, it creates and maintains a chemical connection between people. Ever been addicted to love? Oxytocin is released by the mother and the child while breastfeeding, it is released in two people when hugging and when herd animals eat together, we also express Oxytocin together!

For creatures that depend on being part of a group for safety, food and survival, it makes sense that evolution created this mechanism to form community, doesn’t it?

Hipp hipp hurra! Konstnärsfest på Skagen - Peder Severin Krøyer
Hipp hipp hurra! Konstnärsfest på Skagen – Peder Severin Krøyer

Nourishing the body and the soul

By breaking bread together we celebrate our heritage, we feel gratitude for our sustenance, remember people and events from our past, connect to the earth (the source of our food), perhaps connect to a higher power and we also chemically form bonds with the people around us.

This is nourishment so deep, it cannot be expressed in grams of protein, antioxidant values, superfood densities etc. This is a deeper dimension, a deeper meaning, a deeper feeling and a deeper healing.

If you are reading this, you may be a part of the ever-expanding Lucidity Family.

If you are part of the Lucidity Family, there’s a good chance you like, and are looking for community.

To build and maintain your community, do what people of all times and places have done and supercharge this bonding by Breaking Bread together!

Break Bread! Eat without distractions like TV! Drink a glass of wine! Laugh! Eat together!

LiveWell, LoveWell, EatWell, BeWell.

Stay Inquisitive!

Caspar PoyckCaspar Poyck C.Ht. is a PsychoDigestive Therapist in Ojai who uses insights and teachings from all perspectives as possible Tao of eating. Meditation is to help you find your connections to your own experience of divinity.

Caspar is also The Inquisitive Chef on YouTube.

Consciously Culinary helps you connect to your own cravings, emotions, psychology, spirituality and nourishment!

For in-depth workshops, in Ojai and Costa Rica, please go to www.WhatMakesYouEat.com

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