The power of sharing a meal
by Tobias • 4 minutes read
Last updated: 01 Jul, 2022
Eating together is something people have always done, but unfortunately this is becoming rarer in the this hectic world.
After the separation that many of us have felt over the last 2 years, it's more important than ever that we make the effort to eat together again, and scientific studies back that up too. Today we are looking at the some of the biggest mental and physical health benefits you can get from breaking bread with your loved ones.
You'll feel happier
Eating as a group can make a distinct improvement to your quality of life. In a 2017 study of 2000 adults, those who ate socially more often were also more likely to feel happy and satisfied with life. The study took into account other factors such as location, age and gender to ensure that the study was as accurate as possible. Even with these factors accounted for, the results remained the same, regular social eaters felt happier more satisfied with their lives.
You'll have more friends
Believe it or not, the same study also showed that those who with others more others more often were more engaged with local communities, had more friends, demonstrated a wider support network and were more capable of providing social and emotional support. It makes logical sense really, that spending time with people would make you better at spending time with people. Now we have the science to back it up. So we are only on the second point and already you could be happier, have more friends and be more satisfied with life. Pretty incredible.
Possible physical health benefits
Now this is where things start to get interesting. There is potential that the benefits of eating together extends beyond just mental health benefits and actually provides some physical health benefits as well. bear with me as this involves a couple of steps, but there does seem to be a link between eating together with friends and family and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This benefit isn't as concrete as others on this list but bare with me. This study shows that there is a link between loneliness and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. So the inverse could well be true, that people that aren't lonely have better heart health, or at least they don't have an increased risk of poor heart health. It's something humans have evolved to do, share some good food around a dinner table.
You'll eat more fruit and vegetables
According to a 2017 study, eating out more frequently was associated with a reduced fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as a reduced likelihood of being a healthy weight. The increased interest in mental and physical wellbeing has permeated almost every aspect of our lives, but the return to home cooked meals has been slow. The relatively modern fashion of eating out at a restaurant shows no signs of waning. But, for now at least, make the effort to have a family meal when you can.
You and your family will eat better
This benefit is more linked to eating at home, as opposed to eating out. But by extension, a family dinner could be a lot healthier when cooked at home. This study shows that eating at home improves the diet of children and young adults. This was regardless of how well the family functions, so whether you bicker at the table or not. You're family could be a lot better off sitting down and sharing a meal.
Your children will grow into healthier adults
In this ten-year study, teenagers who at with their family more frequently were less likely to be overweight 10 years later. As parents we all want our children to grow into healthy and happy adults. There are of course many aspects that affect this but it could be a significant improvement to get into a routine of healthy home-cooked meals.
- Breaking Bread: the Functions of Social Eating - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40750-017-0061-4
- Loneliness, Social Isolation, and Cardiovascular Health - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5831910/
- Frequency of eating home cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28818089/
- Exploring the Role of Family Functioning in the Association Between Frequency of Family Dinners and Dietary Intake Among Adolescents and Young Adults - https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2715616
- The Protective Role of Family Meals for Youth Obesity: 10-year Longitudinal Associations - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4308550/
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