Is Eating Alone Making You Sick?
If you are like most busy professionals you may find yourself eating alone quite frequently. Recently, researchers found that eating alone changed the quality of food that people chose to eat. This could actually be having a negative effect on your health and it’s time to step back and take stock.
As a huge proponent of community, socialisation and mental health, I used to run a workshop on Mindful Eating. In it, we discussed the value of ‘how you eat’, being as important as ‘what you eat’. Now this study demonstrates that ‘how you eat’ actually affects ‘what you eat’.
Researchers looked at thousands of Korean men (3365) and women (5258) and saw that their diets were influenced by their eating behaviour. After taking into account other socioeconomic factors that may also influence diet quality, such as affluence, they found that those individuals that ate alone had a lower nutrient intake than that which is recommended.
In other words, those individuals that consistently ate with others tended to eat better quality food. This occurs whether you are male, female, rich or poor. Why is that?
As you can imagine, there could be a number of reasons:
- Many clients tell me that it’s too much effort to cook for one, is that you too?
- Food can be a conversation piece, but when you are alone, it may not feel that important as you can’t share it with someone
- We tend to want to impress our friends and so we put more effort into making something nice for them
- Self-care is often low on our list of priorities
This further highlights the importance of community, or communing with others. Many people are on there own…so you’re not ‘alone’, but you need to make sure you don’t isolate yourself.
It can be self perpetuating; those that feel uncomfortable, especially introverts, will not reach out to make contact. With no contact, or possibly having experienced rejection, you might retreat further and be even less likely to reach out. How do you take steps to improve your diet? Here are my top tips.
Top tips for eating healthier (and creating community)
If you would like to read more about this study you will find it here: Association between eating behaviour and diet quality: eating alone vs. eating with others