Meal Times Vs. Mental Health

Eating with other people provides numerous social, psychological and biological benefits.

Sharing mealtimes is a good thing for mental health. Whether it is by sharing experiences with friends and family, bonding with family members, winding down with company, or simply having somebody to talk to, mealtimes present an excellent opportunity for us to set aside a specific time of your day or week to give us sufficient time for relaxing, socializing, and improving mental health.

 Read more about how healthy eating can benefit your mental health in this insightful blog on London meditation Centre

 
Benefits of Shared Mealtimes

1. Psychological

Shared regular mealtimes provide a sense of regularity and rhythm in lives. They provide a sense of familiarity and containment and can evoke deep feelings of security and contentment. Structure and routine are important in the lives of humans. Mealtimes present the perfect opportunity to stop, stand still psychologically, reflect on their current day and coming days, and listen to as well as interact with others. Mealtimes also provide an opportunity for grounding, when you can express your anxieties and be listened to.

2. Social

Meal sharing helps aid the development of social skills in children. Children learn from behaviour that older siblings and parents have modelled. Mealtimes allow children and adolescents alike to learn to listen and learn how to interact in conversation. The ritual of a shared meal reinforces the individual’s identity continuously i.e. Who is he/she? What is his/her role? Or Where does he/she belong to? Qualities such as understanding and empathy can be developed as views and other perspectives besides one’s own can be discussed. Mealtimes also make people feel a connection with others.

3. Biological

Regular mealtimes are biologically important. They provide rhythm and make us pause and focus on eating in upright chairs, which helps improve digestion. The act of talking as well as listening also helps slow the process of eating.
 
Top Tips for making the Most of Your Mealtimes

Make a Date

Set goals that you can achieve. Strive to have at least one day each week that’s set aside for meal sharing with friends or family. It should be an event that’s an honoured and routine part of each week, whether it is over lunch on Sunday, dinner on Friday, or simply a leisurely breakfast. Ensure that you involve everyone, both in day selection as well as ensuring that it is kept free.

Hassle Free Meals

Always choose something tasty but relatively easy and simple to prepare when planning your meals. It will ensure that the tradition continues without becoming a chore.

Share Responsibilities

Get others involved in meal preparation: someone to choose what is to be served, somebody to shop for groceries and decide who will be responsible for setting the table, do the actual cooking, and who’s responsible for doing the dishes. The tasks should be rotated.

Plan Meals in Advance

Planning meals in advance helps save time in the long run and provides an opportunity for putting a bit more thought into the introduction of interesting dishes into mealtimes. You should also request for the input of others when it comes to planning meals.

Involve the Children

If you have children, get them involved in all aspects of meal preparation over the course of time from preparing the menu, to the actual cooking, to doing the dishes.

No TV

Try to use the opportunity mealtimes offer for talking and sharing. A television on during meals is likely to be distracting, even if only in the background.
 
 
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Quotation

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure."

Helen Keller
 

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