Peas in a Pod
Published Thursday, August 24, 2023
By Alivia Cordileone, Prevention and Screening Clinical Services
Eating together has long been a cornerstone of human socialization and culture. From sharing meals with family to celebrating special occasions with friends, food has always been a powerful means of bringing people together. Beyond its social significance, dining with others also holds remarkable health and wellness benefits and has the power to transform our lives in positive ways.
When we eat with others, we tend to make more nutritious food choices. Research suggests that eating in a group setting encourages individuals to consume a wider variety of nutrient-rich foods as shared meals often involve a greater variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. The social aspect of dining encourages us to explore new flavours and dishes, expanding our palates and making mealtimes more enjoyable.
Dining with others often promotes healthier eating habits and portion control as shared meals often involve slower eating, allowing individuals to savour the food and recognize the body’s signs of fullness. Engaging in conversation during meals distracts us from mindless eating, making us more mindful of our food choices and preventing overeating. This mindful approach to eating can contribute to better weight management and a decreased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Eating with others provides an opportunity for meaningful social interaction, and cultivates a sense of belonging and social connectedness, which are vital for maintaining good mental and emotional health. Sharing meals helps to establish a supportive environment, fosters a sense of security, and allows individuals to strengthen relationships with family, friends and colleagues. It cultivates a sense of belonging and social connectedness, which are vital for maintaining good mental and emotional health. Engaging in conversation, sharing stories and enjoying the company of others during meals may help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. These social connections may have a positive impact on our mental well-being and reduce feelings of loneliness. Furthermore, laughter during meals promotes a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and overall emotional wellness.
Communal dining brings people from different backgrounds together, creating an enriching environment for cultural appreciation and learning. Sharing meals with individuals from diverse cultures exposes us to new culinary traditions, flavours, and customs. This experience broadens our cultural understanding and promotes a sense of unity and respect among communities.
The recipe to eating with others often starts by making a plan. Whether it’s planning a brunch date with friends, having your lunch with a colleague or friend, planning a weekly dinner with extended family members or friends, or starting a dinner party tradition amongst your group of friends, let’s make a conscious effort to prioritize shared meals and embrace the joy of eating together.
For more information on the benefits of eating with others, visit: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/healthy-eating-recommendations/eat-meals-others/