Friday, March 9, 2007

Betty Page-Crocker

I've been able to cook more in the past two days than I did all the rest of second semester in my apartment in the Commons. It's definitley a time issue, but it's not just that. I didn't feel the need to cook as much because I got the face-time and emotional appreciation from my residents and socializing with them, not, like in previous semesters, from my classmates who I fed.

Which, once again, goes back to oxytocin thing. Why do I produce oxytocin when I cook? Is it because it reminds me of being close to my mom, and my body remembers that cooking = feeling loved? It's funny that after a whole semester thinking about work, art, love, cooking, and domesticity, I find myself equally as distant from any sort of solution.

After all, as the wonderful Kristine Woods always says, you have to have an opinion in your art, you have to have a point of view. If you're making art that doesn't offend anyone, then it's probably not resonating super-strong with anyone either. I feel really strongly about feeding people, about empowering people with information, about being nurturing and enabling. And part of that may be because I was raised as a girl in America, but I'm good at it, and I love it.

And it just shows how much an inherent part of myself feeding and nurturing people is, that even now that I don't have any obligations to my old residents, and there's no reason for me to feed my room-mates, I do. I can't NOT do these things. Go figure.

1 comment:

  1. I think we learn to make a very direct connection between food and love when we're nursed as infants. Breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin in the mother -- and presumably, looking at her baby while she bottlefeeds does, too. Her feeling of peace, contentment and love is transmitted to the baby, and the baby releases her own oxytocin, creating a bond and also just a very good feeling.

    There's another connection between oxytocin and food, a more direct one. Oxytocin is directly related to satiety, that happy full-tummy feeling, which goes a long way toward explaining why we turn to food when we're lonely or sad.

    When fat in food reaches the small intestine, it secretes a digestive hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK stimulates the vagus nerve, a major pathway sending messages back and forth between the body, the autonomic nervous system and the brain. Nerves from the mammary glands, uterus and skin, especially the chest, also connect to it.

    CCK sends a message via the vagus nerve to the hypothalamus, which shoots down some oxytocin. The gut has as many oxytocin receptors as the brain, so the hormone causes its smooth muscles to contract, creating that replete feeling we call satiety or satisfaction.

    The fattier the food, the more CCK and oxytocin is released. Potato chips, anyone?


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