Why Eat Together? Come dine with us!

The world’s mental health is big news now, and rightly so. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are not new concepts. However, a world of climate change, war in Europe, soaring costs of living, government chaos, the pressures of social media and the pandemic has left us all feeling even more fragile and vulnerable: mentally, socially and emotionally. The upside of this is that what were once taboo subjects are now priorities. So what makes us happy? 

A key way to balance your mental health and wellbeing is by eating with others. It protects us from feeling alone, by strengthening our bond with others. Eating the same food can lead to people feeling closer and more trusting of each other and can serve as a ‘social lubricant’. New research from the University of Oxford has revealed that the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.

Using data from a national survey by The Big Lunch, the researchers looked at the link between social eating and an individual’s happiness, the number of friends they have, their connection to their community, and overall satisfaction with life. Researchers found that people who eat socially are more likely to feel good about themselves and have a wider social network which provides them with social and emotional support.

Despite the connection between social eating and bonding, many meals in the UK are eaten alone. The average adult eats 10 meals out of 21 alone every week. Busy lives and hectic work schedules are the main causes.

More than two thirds of those questioned had never shared a meal with a neighbour, while a fifth of people said it had been more than six months since they had shared a meal with their parents. A fifth of those questioned hadn’t eaten an evening meal out with a good friend or family member for more than six months.

As the winter comes on in the northern hemisphere and the days grow longer, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other religious holidays all feature. Let’s make the most of these opportunities to improve our own wellbeing by sharing food, laughter and memories together.

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