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It's Not Just About What You Eat (Series: Part 3)

Okay guys, we’ve discussed what you eat and when you eat it… But now let’s discuss who you eat with.

You may be saying to yourself, “Huh? What does it matter who I eat with? That doesn’t affect my body or my health!?”

On the contrary, who you eat with can have a huge impact on your lifestyle and diet. The people you surround yourself with heavily influence the choices you make, the judgements you hold, and the perceptions you take on. Not only does this affect your general attitudes, but it can hugely affect your mind and body as well.

This concept manifests itself in a few different ways.

In today’s busy world, more than 20% of meals are eaten alone in one’s car. This is especially true for breakfast meals, where that statistic is much higher. Our on-the-go lifestyles rarely permit us to make time to eat with our families and friends; however, in many other countries this is not the case. Outside of the United States, mealtime is sacred and is an opportunity to spend time with friends and family. Not only that but in some countries such as France, while it is acceptable to eat a meal by yourself- one should never rush a meal.

In the U.S., we definitely view things differently. Often, families are eating at different times, in different rooms, in front of their own individual screens. On top of that, Americans now spend nearly half as much on takeout and fast food as they do on weekly groceries.

Consequently, we eat much more unhealthy things because of the nature of how these fast casual establishments make their food.

So, we’re eating unhealthy, high calorie meals by ourselves. So what?

Eating is not just about nutritional benefits, but the psychological ones as well. Writer for the Atlantic, Cody C. Delistraty states, “Although it would be nice to eat healthily as well, even take-out makes for a decent enough meal, psychologically speaking, so long as your family, roommates, or friends are present.” Eating with friends and loved ones has a huge impact on your mental health and can vastly improve your perspective to be more mindful and holistic.

Eating together can reduce your perceptions of inequality and shift your judgements of others’ background, economic status, race, and gender. This is because of the communal and binding nature of sharing a meal together. But this idea of coming together over a meal is nothing new, we know this is what the Pilgrims and Native Americans did nearly 200 years ago!

The other piece of this “who” you eat with involves being mindful of the tendencies, goals, and food choices of those you eat with. When we’re with friends who are driven to eat healthy, to fuel their body, and to improve their overall wellbeing, so are we! On the other hand, however, the same logic applies when we eat with people who are less concerned with nutrition and eating well. It truly can be a case of “monkey see, monkey do.”

This applies to all facets of our lives; the people we surround ourselves with are huge factors in our own perceptions and mindsets. When surrounded by people who do not care about their health and consistently eat unhealthily, we are bound to be influenced by that. This is especially true for those with whom we grocery shop with, cook meals with, and go out to dinner with. If they’re getting the extra large pepperoni pizza with the stuffed crust, it’s going to be much more difficult for you to not do the same. It is especially hard to change the routine and habits you’ve acquired through your lifestyle when you’re going at it alone.

Of course, we are not saying to ditch your friends who lack an interest in health and wellness! Rather, we encourage you to open up a dialogue with these people about their wellbeing and how our daily food choices can have an impact on our bodies. Take the opportunity to educate your friends and family members, perhaps even share this blog series with them!

Food is both a utility and an experience. Both are equally as important to our mental and physical wellbeing as they go hand-in-hand, so it is important that we emphasize this does not mean you cannot order Chinese take-out on a Friday night with your friends. It’s when that habit becomes routine and bleeds into each day affecting all of your food choices that it becomes an issue because it can negatively affect your health.

Surrounding yourself with people who are health-conscious and motivated to improve their wellness, lower their risk for various diseases, and learn more about how impactful these things are for your overall life is really crucial to improving your own. As with anything, it’s always better together.

Sharing a meal with family and friends has a powerful effect on our subjective wellbeing, and even more so is sharing one that is nutritious and fueling for the body. Combining the benefits of the social experience with the benefits that come from eating foods rich in nutrients and vitamins is a true recipe for elevating your levels of happiness.

And with that, we hope you have a better understanding of the importance of who you eat with and the impact it can have on your own progress toward your goals for health and wellness as well as the benefits of opening up a dialogue about health and wellness with those closest to you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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