When thinking about health and wellness, societal focus is dynamically portrays an emphasis on food / diet based solutions. Understandably, our bodies must be sustained with the consumption of healthy nutritious foods. Yet, this source is only a fraction of a person's long term health equation. Non-edible food such as relationships, career, exercise and spiritual practice, when in balance is where a life fulfilled actualized. Humans are innately social creatures. Our lives become enriched as a result of nurturing relationships with others. Within these interactions awaits feelings of understanding, acceptance, value and a sense of belonging.
Sharing a meal or delivering the gift of food to another is an excellent mechanism for strengthening your practice of self-care. As lives progress from youth to adulthood, student to professional, or parent to caregiver the benefits gained from sharing a meal directly impact overall health and happiness. As outlined in this Food Tank article, The Science of Eating Together . According to a recent survey by the Hartman Group, nearly half of adults’ meals are eaten in front of the computer, in the car, on the go—or, in other words, alone. The researchers of another study claimed the average American family spends 40 percent of their budget eating out, which usually means not together. The shared meal of sitting down to dinner together has, too often, become a thing of the past. Research shared in The Natural History of Food Sharing and Cooperation explores the human condition of sharing food as an important facet of being human.
Let's face it, the challenge of cooking, managing family schedules, demanding careers or living alone make cooking a shared meal often times difficult. This difficulty only increases a person's anxiety, stress, loneliness and leads to an incomplete health plan. Let's begin today following these five steps on developing a Communal Shared Meal Action Plan.
1. Set a date to have a shared meal at a restaurant with a friend, family member or co-worker one time per month. For example: every Wednesday @ 6:15. Write a hand written note the following day of thanks for having shared time together. Take a photo to display on the refrigerator as a kind reminder of the pleasurable experience.
2. Create a Cookbook Club. Invite up to 12 family members, friends or co-workers for a monthly potluck where each attendee selects a recipe from the same cookbook. The cookbook can be hardback or recipes downloadable from your favorite website. Establish at the outset for category selections to achieve a complete meal. Giving participants the opportunity to maybe do an entre one month and dessert the next. Remember to encourage freezer containers for leftovers to be placed in the freezer for a future meal.
3. When ever possible make family or friend meal time in your home a priority. No TV trays allowed. Sit at the table, light a candle and add a vase of fresh flowers. This experience can be in person or via virtual technology. Enjoy a conversation with a dear person who lives afar utilizing the gifts of FaceTime or Skype.
4. For those who may be living alone, make a favorite meal, pot of soup or batch of cookies. Package them as gifts for a neighbor, a friend or even the local fire station. Enjoy the look of appreciation on the receiver's face grateful to have been thought of. Acts of kindness such as this bring pleasure to both the giver and recipient.
5. For those that appreciate locally sourcing ingredients, when prepping meals or baked goods for the freezer, remember to label the package with those who contributed with the ingredients. For an example, take a close look at the photo attached to this blog. By thanking friends or local farmers for foods we prepare in writing, we get the opportunity to think of them one more time when the selection is made from the freezer.
Why not commit to bringing a Communal Shared Meal Action Plan to your table regularly. Live happy and fulfilled as we discover the path between our fork and feet! Thank you, Mary