When we share a meal with another person something powerful is happening. Not only are we nourishing our bodies, but also our souls.
Studies show that children who are consistently fed sit-down family meals are healthier physically and emotionally. The reasons for this make sense. The family meal is typically going to include a variety of food groups, and thus a variety of nutrients. It's more likely to be eaten without distractions and at a relaxed pace, facilitating mindful eating and connection to body signals for hunger/satiety. It's also a time that the family gets to connect with each other and talk, something that doesn't always happen in our fast-paced, technologically-driven world.
Outside of dining with our families, similar things happen when we dine with other people in our lives. We connect. All of a sudden the meal is a shared experience. Humans have been breaking bread together since the dawn of time, something well documented even in the Bible. It unites us over common needs for fuel and connection. Sometimes these needs make us feel vulnerable, but everybody shares them. Consider how most celebrations involve food – everything from birthday cake, to Thanksgiving turkey, to a 4th of July BBQ. It's not a coincidence that we unite over food.
I'm not saying that meals together need to be elaborate, gourmet, or even home cooked. The idea is to sit down with other human beings. Start simple with foods that come together quickly, even takeout. Make the focus the time spent together. Eventually maybe you can experiment with also preparing the meals together. There's something incredibly satisfying about a meal that everyone's hands helped prepare.
If you can commit to eating a shared meal at least once per week I suspect that your relationships will improve over time and you'll understand why this is such a valuable experience.
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