10 Ways We Use Food to Express Love

And the secret ingredient is…spoiler alert: love.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! As you made your plans to celebrate the holiday this year what did they most revolve around? Probably the restaurant you’ll visit or the recipes you’ll make for your loved ones. We use food to show love and we do so in all of our precious relationships, not just our romantic connections. Since food is so important to us and it’s Valentine’s Day this week, I wanted to reflect on the ways we show love with food in all types of relationships.

1. Eating dinner as a family

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There are tons of studies out there that highlight the emotional and physical health benefits of eating as a family. It’s said to lead to better portion control, grades, stress levels, and happiness. Beyond studies and data, it’s just such an enjoyable thing to do. Growing up, I would sometimes feel frustrated by my parents’ insistence that all five of us eat together every night, but as an adult, it’s one of my favorite things. When we all get together at the dinner table, it’s an absolute party. I love that we made it part of our family culture to set aside that time to do nothing else but intentionally be together.

2. Waiting for your partner/roommate to get home to eat

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There’s something intimate about sharing most of your meals with a special someone, whether that’s your beloved and quirky roommate, or your romantic partner. At a certain point in most close relationships, there’s even an expectation that you’ll break bread together. Beware if you fall short of that expectation.

3. Making casseroles for those having hard times

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When life brings our friends struggles that no amount of love or support can fix, the best thing we can do is relieve some of their day-to-day burdens and show them that they aren’t alone. It’s beautiful to see communities come together to fill freezers with dishes and casseroles for families in hard times. Sometimes a good frozen quiche is the best way to say, “we’re here, and we love you.”

4. Adopting friends into the family by insisting they join for dinner

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Growing up, a lot of us had that friend who had a standing invitation to family dinner time. They’d come home after school, play legos, stay through dinner, and even until it was absolutely past bedtime. My friend like that growing up is still a best friend of ours and has graduated to coming with us on most of our family vacations. It’s crazy to think a life long friendship all started with, “Hey, do you like spaghetti?”

5. Spoiling Grandkids with food love

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There’s a running joke out there about how intensely Grandmothers want to feed their Grandkids, and for many of us, that joke is a wonderful reality. My Grandpa always brought the biggest strawberries to our house with me in mind, and my Grandma still stocks the freezer with parmesan crusted tilapia when she knows I’m visiting. What foods did your grandparents use to spoil you?

6. Bringing baked goods into the office

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BumbleBar’s resident recreational baker is our Administration Guru, Aimee, and she’s brought in lots of delicious treats in my time here. I remember one day I was having a particularly hard morning, she brought me a piece of banana bread and said, “eat it before Patrick does.” Not only did I beat Patrick to it, but it was delicious, and it considerably brightened my day.

7. Bringing ice cream to friends with broken hearts

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It has been scientifically proven that chocolate can literally reduce pain, physically and emotionally. But for those who prefer vanilla, the simple ritual of eating your feelings with the friends who bring you comfort food can work just as well.

8. Sneaking some scraps to your pets

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Some people may argue that giving your pet unhealthy human food scraps is less loving than resisting that urge. To those people I say, you’re right, but I just want my fat cat to be happy. Look at him. He needs this.

9. Paying special attention to dietary preferences

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A big way we show love through food is by observing our loved ones’ dietary restrictions and preferences. I’m a pescatarian, which is by no means too tricky to navigate, but I’ve felt so loved by all my family and friends who constantly think about me when planning meals or outings. “They have fish there!” is the most common and wonderful thing I hear. But sometimes it can be really hard work. I know a woman who leads a family full of allergies. She wades through dairy, gluten, meat, and ever-changing nut aversions with impeccable grace and always a big loving smile on her face. Through all that hard work she says over and over again, “ I see you. I love you. I want you here.”

10. Sharing recipes

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Not unlike sharing favorite books, music, and movies, sharing recipes is a way we share ourselves and make connections with others. Sometimes families will even hold special recipes secret, only to share them discreetly as wedding presents.

How do you use food to show your loved ones you care about them? How are you doing that this Valentine’s Day? Share your stories in the comments!



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