Often times we do not think of the health benefits of eating beyond the nutritional value. However, there is importance to not only what we eat, but how we eat. Healthy eating can be described from a social standpoint as well as a nutritional standpoint. Communal eating (or eating with others) has been tradition in many cultures and in many arenas, and appropriately so as it has many benefits from social to romantic. Think about the last time you attended or hosted a dinner party or potluck. Did you experience connection on various levels? Was it a satisfying social and emotional experience? Let’s look at the different benefits of communal eating more closely.
By nature we are social beings, and for thousands of years, eating has been a common way of bringing people together. Around the dinner table is a time to put differences aside, and enjoy a common indulgence with others. Lets take the example of potlucks. Potlucks are a great way to create a social bond, while having everyone feel like a contribution. Potlucks are a way for people to be acknowledged where they may otherwise not have been in their lives. Finally, potlucks are fun! You can play with food themes, and include challenges that add a little spice and competition between friends.
The greatest conversations can happen at the dinner table. The social connection is compounded by meaningful conversation when groups get together for a good meal. The conversation may be light and playful, or it can be involved and surrounding social or intellectual issues. Still, some use the coming together at meal time as a mastermind or problem solving session. Whatever the case, communing around the dinner table (or breakfast or lunch table) can serve as a great source of intellectual stimulation.
Coming together to eat can also be a great way to kick back and enjoy some relaxing time together. One example is having dinner at a jazz lounge with a group of friends. Another example could be having a girls night in with dinner and a movie. In this case the coming together of the group signifies a time to relax and release tension, yet involved is still a sense of connection and play..as well as a good meal.
It goes without saying that a sensual or romantic touch can be brought into the experience of eating. The romantic connection is not only in the act of spending time together eating however. The entire food experience can be utilized to create a powerful intimate connection from food shopping and selection, to cooking and preparation, to presentation of the food and ambience of the environment. Finally, the actual eating of the food and the conversation and play that surrounds, can create an intense and very sensual experience.
While eating socially has many benefits, it is important to recognize that social eating experiences can also have nutritional value. A great way to combine the physical and emotional benefits of social eating is to create healthy social eating events, or dates. Some think that it is difficult to have the best of both worlds, but the truth is that incorporating both the nutritional value and the emotional benefits of social eating will create a more powerful and empowering experience for both you and those you are being an example for.
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