Eat Better, Eat Together: Why We Should Enjoy Our Meal Together
The benefits of eating together isn’t just for children. It extends to adults too! Not only social eating is ingrained in our DNA– and mental health, it turns out that it’s better for our physical health too.
When people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all – even if they are not trying to lose weight,” says Julia A. Wolfson, MPP, a CLF-Lerner Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and lead author of a John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research study.
Interestingly, this carries over to the lifestyle choices outside of the home. The findings of the study also suggest that those who frequently cooked at home – six-to-seven nights a week – also consumed fewer calories on the occasions when they ate out.
"Many older men have never developed or have lost touch with kitchen skills, and thus have become too dependent on processed and prepared foods," says Dr. David Eisenberg, of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
But really, this isn’t just a “man” issue. We all could brush up on our skills. Smple scheduling and planning with others can help you learn or expand those rusty cooking skills– and promote healthier living.
- Planning your meals ahead allows you to make healthier choices and keep track of your eating habits.
- Having a set time and plan for eating with others gives you more consistency in your meal time
- and might help eliminate late-night snacking and other unhealthy habits.
Having control over every ingredient you put into your food can minimize calories, allow for healthier substitutions and also better serve your food sensitivities and preferences.
Cooking at home can even take less time than ordering in or going out to eat. But, you don’t have to just eat at home. We know that mealtime rituals and who you are spending your mealtime with is very important as well.
Having a set place where you enjoy meals, that is void of distractions helps you enjoy your mealtime more. Being attentive during the time you spend eating. Put away your work, turn off the tv and sit down at the table together. Most people enjoy snacks while watching tv, but a large number of people are also eating most of their meals in front of the television. Studies show that we tend to eat more when we’re distracted — both in the moment of distraction and later on in the day. With common distractions, it’s like our bodies don’t process the full experience of eating our meals.
Cooking together allows you to spend quality time learning new things and socializing with others. Many people connect more openly and easily while working on a project. This is a great way to get the conversation going and bond with loved ones. This quality time together also might help you appreciate your meals more! When you eat with others you also eat more slowly helps you enjoy your food and studies show people who eat slowly weigh less. When you eat too quickly your body might not realize when it is full, often resulting in eating too much or discomfort during digestion.
Eat Together Tips and Reminders:
- Make it a routine. If you can’t eat together every day - pick one or two days a week to share a meal. Having this set routine will help people avoid conflict schedules and be more present during your mealtime.
- Set mealtime norms. Maybe you all put your phones on the coffee table, play a game like “would you rather?”, or you go around the table to share something from your day?
- Choose a time that works for everyone. Eating together can happen at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Choose the meal that gives you the most time to talk and connect.
- Start slowly. If you don’t usually eat together, start by scheduling one meal per week and increase the number as you are able.
- Try new healthy choices together. Circle your friends and family around healthy foods as often as you can. The more you eat together, the more you all benefit.
- Schedule activities around mealtimes. If that’s not possible, create a meal together around a picnic table in a park on the way to piano lessons or rink-side before hockey. It might seem easy to stop at a drive thru but packing healthy snacks and a blanket is just as easy.
People who eat together, enjoy life together
There is so much psychology around our eating and our eating habits. This is a huge part of your life that you can be have a positive influence in your life! So enjoy your meals more by sharing them with the special someone(s) in your life. You’ll be surprised at how well it can keep you on track with your dietary goals.