Eating with others keeps you healthier and happier, especially in menopause!
Tip #10 in the Nutrition In Menopause Series Eat with others
Eat with others.
Eating together can actually benefit your health and that of your family. Studies suggest that people who eat alone have higher rates of depression. Those who eat regularly with others say they feel happier. In menopause, we have to be extra vigilant about staying happy and positive.
When my kids were small, I sat down one day and thought of how I wanted them to remember their childhood. One of the things on that list was the smell of baking! I wanted them to remember the smell of good food permeating their childhoods.
Sure, I cooked so they have good nutritious meals and get the necessary vitamins and minerals for their growing bodies, but I also cooked and baked to give them a sense of being cared for and loved. It was my way of saying to them that I loved them.
Food is so much more than energy for our cells; it is energy for our souls.
Of course, we primarily eat to live. Our bodies need food to provide the energy needed to function and heal. Food is essential for survival, but it is also so much more…
Food is social glue
Food plays another important function in our lives. It is the social glue that brings families around tables, tightens friendships and strengthens relationships.
Many a love story started across a dinner table. Festivities and holidays revolve around a laden feast. In menopause, in particular, maintaining social connections becomes even more important. When you are able to share and speak about common issues, it makes difficulties easier to bear.
Our ancestors hunted and foraged. Only when they turned to farming and food became more available did we have the luxury to create and innovate rather than merely survive. It is only when food is elevated beyond the absolutely necessary for survival to a place of enjoyment and joy that civilizations grow and flourish. Exquisite food is a reflection of sophistication and refinement.
Many cultures ordain that when people break bread together, they form a relationship of loyalty and trust that must not be damaged. So, food has always had a larger significance than the strictly nutritive.
Why shared meals are important
Compare a meal that you mindlessly eat in front of the TV, to one where you sit around a table with family or friends and partake of so much more than the food. Exchanging stories, anecdotes and ideas, agreeing and disagreeing, talking and listening. There is a world of difference.
Eat with others.
In reality, it is not the culinary brilliance of a meal that matters, but its ability to bring people together, sharing in the very stuff that gives us life. You do not have to be a Michelin star chef to make magic of shared meals. Even if you put together a simple spread of bread and cheese, or open a can or two of tuna, it can still be a celebration of togetherness.
In these Covid times, with social distancing and the increased difficulty of social interaction, it is perhaps difficult to invite people or throw dinner parties. That’s true, but we can still make mealtimes a time for reconnecting with our families or those we share a household with. It may even be more important to reconnect with those around us as we are distancing from others outside our homes.
The true value of food is emotional and not just physical. Eating should be something that provides pleasure as well as sustenance. Flavors should be teased and taste buds flirted with.
Here are some ideas about creating shared meals:
- Choose the mealtime that suits your household best. It can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. The timing is not the issue; the act of togetherness is.
- If you cannot meet with others in person, set up a group meal with friends on Zoom or Skype and eat together, even if only virtually.
- If you do not usually eat together, try to make time for one meal a week. Make it special with a favorite dish. You can increase slowly.
- Eating together can actually benefit your health and that of your family.
- Avoid watching television during meal times. If possible, turn off cellphones and other electronics.
- Try a pot luck arrangement, where everyone prepares a different dish or accompaniment and brings it to the meal.
- Try making a dish from another culture, or even order in, but sit around a table and make a meal of it.
So, share a meal and eat better, laugh more and be happier!
Eat with others.
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