Is there a link between eating together and happiness?

The short answer is yes!  The consistent story from a range of surveys is that the majority of UK couples and families now eat their dinner, in a hurry and in front of the TV.   There are many cultures where shared meals are a sacred tradition. In the UK this seems to be fading rapidly […]

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The short answer is yes! 

The consistent story from a range of surveys is that the majority of UK couples and families now eat their dinner, in a hurry and in front of the TV.  

There are many cultures where shared meals are a sacred tradition. In the UK this seems to be fading rapidly with busy lives, grab and go food and the black hole of electronic devices.

Lockdown is a great opportunity to reset habits and create new and better eating rituals.

Here are good reasons for creating an evening oasis of eating together:

Communication

  • Good communication is fundamental to a great relationship. If we don’t eat together, when else will we create a safe space in which to talk?
  • Time eating together, with no distractions, is a great opportunity to share how you are feeling and to be listened to. 
  • Start to change your questions; going from ‘Did you have a good day at work/ school’ to ‘How was your day,’ to more open questions such as ‘How are you feeling now’ are more likely to get conversations and feelings flowing.

Connection

  • A meal together is an opportunity to create a space where you connect with each other and where time and the rest of the world is put on pause.
  • Sharing a meal together is shown to increase the secretion of oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’ that increases the feeling of love and closeness between humans. It also helps activate mirror neurons that develop empathy with others.

Commitment

  • Healthy relationships have rituals of connection where each person invests time and energy in doing things that will feel good to each other.
  • Eating together is saying, ‘You are important to me, this relationship is important to me, I am investing in us.’ 

Fun

  • Meals can be times of fun, laughter and celebration.  
  • When did you last have a Birthday celebration eating a ready meal and watching East Enders?
  • Why not create your own posh restaurant night in? Dress up, take it in turns to be the Head Waiter and serve your partner and children.

Growth

  • We all need to grow as people and our relationships also need to grow as we get older and life changes
  • Eating together is a great opportunity to talk outside of the box and to explore hopes and dreams

Trust

  • The opportunity to talk, to share feelings and to be listened to is essential for creating trust between people.
  • Trust is fundamental to a strong relationship

Health

  • You are more likely to make informed choices of what to eat, maybe even co-creating healthier meals.
  • You will probably eat more mindfully and more slowly, which aids digestion and reduces the risk of overeating.

Neil Wilkie is a Psychotherapist, Relationship Expert and Author of ‘Reset – The Relationship Paradigm’www.relationshipparadigm.com

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