Integrative Nutrition Blog

Vitamin L: There's Nothing Like the Comfort of Family

February 7, 2012

Last week we kicked off our new Vitamin L series, which celebrates the various relationships in our lives throughout the month of February, with a post on friendship.

Next up, we’re talking family. That’s right, those crazy people who drive you nuts, and at one point (circa age 15) you didn’t want to be seen with, but at the end of the day, you love ‘em anyway.

Unlike some other relationships, we don’t get to choose our family members. Who we marry, yes; but that mother of yours who made you take those really awkward photos on the first say of school, you know, the one who is constantly reminding you that she’d like grandchildren someday? Well, you’re sort of stuck with her.

At times it’s easy to be harsh or brutally honest with these people, as we know our family will love us unconditionally. But that’s also the reason that we cherish them so much. On our good days they’re our biggest fans, and on our bad days there's nothing quite like the comfort a family member can provide.

Spending time with family is one of the best sources of primary food. This relationship affects our health in various ways, and studies have shown that parents and siblings can largely influence our lifestyle and perspectives. A recent article from The Women’s Sport Foundation outlines a study that shows family involvement may help kids lose weight, thus reducing the climbing rate of childhood obesity. Several researchers have proven that having regular family meals and talking at the dinner table leads to more health benefits, and even decreases asthma in children.

On the contrary, if we don’t feed our family relationships it can lead to a stressful situation. Strained relations often cause extreme tension and unhappiness, so it’s important to carve out time for activities or catching up.  Plan fun outings that everyone can enjoy (Dad probably isn’t up for another shopping trip this weekend), or hold weekly card nights or evening walks. Shoot your siblings a quick message or call your parents on break during a busy day just to say hi. My parents currently live in another country, so I don’t get to see them very often. We make it a priority to talk on Skype once a week, and share updates via email regularly. I know they’re interested in my daily life and how they can support me, even from thousands of miles away.

In an inspiring story on NBC TODAY, one woman lost 135 pounds so she could be considered as a kidney donor to save her brother’s life. Here we not only see Kari Roberts’ incredible willpower, who shed the weight by changing her diet and exercise habits, but we see the lengths that she was willing to go for one of the people she loves the most. If put in a similar situation, I know I’d do the same for my own brother without question.

What can you do to show your family some Vitamin L this month?

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