NUTRITION: 3 Reasons why you should dine with others

Frequently eating at a table for one? Whether it’s joining your family for dinner, or pulling up a chair next to a co-worker in the breakroom, eating your meals with others has positive benefits.

Columbia University researchers found that kids who share family dinners three or more times per week are more likely to eat healthier, perform higher academically, and have better relationships with their parents. And it’s not just for families. Employees who share communal lunches tend to have higher productivity, according to Cornell University.

1. Connections Strengthen.

It’s not all macronutrients, micronutrients, calories, and nutrition labels. Feeding your soul is part of a healthy lifestyle, and that means eating delicious food with people you care for.

Food brings people together, and that’s healthy. Dining together establishes a feeling of community and connectedness, which research shows is good for your overall well-being. Sure, this may also occasionally lead to eating more than you planned or eating unbalanced meals, but it’s worth it.

2. Eating becomes purposeful and personal.

Skipped lunch? Cup of Joe on the go? If this is your regular routine, you’re missing out. Eating with purpose is about coming to the table and nourishing your mind, body, and spirit.

When you spend your meals with others, you’re encouraged to be intentional with your food choices and savor every morsel and moment you share with others. It’s also a great chance to share your favorite foods and explore new avenues of flavor recommended by others.

3. Life tastes (and smells) sweeter.

From the smell of something delicious baking in the oven to the satisfying crunch of crisp vegetables, food reminds us to reflect, look forward, and relish the here and now. Don’t stress about eating perfectly all the time. Instead, choose foods that celebrate memories, enhance experiences, and bring people together.

The sooner you get away from the idea that dieting is about perfection or requires depriving your body, the more equipped you’ll be to make healthy eating a natural part of your life — and look at it as a chance to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with someone you care about.

Three keys to success:

1. Try new things. Go on food adventures. Explore, experiment, and discover.

2. Raise a glass (wine or fruit juice, your choice!). There’s always a reason to celebrate. Find yours.

3. Savor good times. Let food remind you of special occasions, people, or places.