Did you know that the average American eats 1 out of 5 meals in their car? Americans are working longer hours, cooking less and therefore spending less time having family dinners. But what are the consequences of eating alone? How does this relate to our level of happiness?
For several generations and across many countries, family dinners represent happiness and celebration, which can be seen during Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holiday dinners. Our happiness is highly influenced by our social network, if the people we love are happy, we become happy. Being at the dinner table gives us the chance to engage in conversations, and creates a sense of belongingness.
As our society has become more individualistic, our population is aging, and people are getting married later, eating alone has become more common. A study in Thailand found that common attributes of those reporting solo eating include: males, unmarried people, smaller households, those living in urban residences and busyness. It was found that eating alone was associated with feelings of unhappiness, with effects strongest amongst females.
So what are the benefits of eating together?
One out of four Americans eat at least one fast food meal per day. Sure stopping at a drive-thru after a long day can seem like a quick an easy option but often fast food is overloaded with calories, high sodium and fat. On top of that, it will hurt your wallet in the long run. An unhealthy diet can lead to weight gain which can lead to health problems and a lower self-esteem.
A study at the University of Columbia found that children who ate dinner with their parents five or more days a week had less trouble with drugs, alcohol, unhealthy eating and performed better in school. Children who ate dinner less than twice a week with their families were 40% more likely to be overweight. In addition, children had the chance to participate in adult conversations making them feel more confident.
Catching up at the dinner table after a long day of work can be helpful to release your stress. Lower stress levels lead to an increase in happiness and a healthier lifestyle.
So does eating alone cause unhappiness or does being unhappy cause one to eat alone? The question is debatable but what we can be sure about is eating together increases our happiness. So ditch the drive-thru, and take 30 minutes out of your day to share quality time with your loved ones. Subscribe to Amsety Bars now to make sure you have health right at your doorstep every month over your family dinners!