The Benefits of Eating Together

It's Good For Your Health

Imagine there was one simple thing you could do to ensure your kids ate less junk food and got better grades, your parents stayed more socially connected and you felt less stressed. Sounds like magic, right? Actually, it’s something a bit more commonplace than that: dinner.

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Though researchers aren’t sure exactly why it works, several studies have found a connection between eating a meal together and our physical and mental health. The advantages seem particularly strong for kids, who benefit from seeing healthy eating habits and positive communication modelled at the dinner table, but, according to Twyla Nichols, the coordinator of YWCA Halifax’s Food First program, we all stand to gain something when we make time to eat together. “When you sit down and eat, you’re relaxing,” she notes. “You slow down.”

 

Decreases Social Isolation

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This is especially true for seniors, who tend to be at a higher risk for social isolation. Social dining or communal meals can help them feel more connected taking the focus off eating and placing it on conversation, community and enjoyment. 

Jimmy Morrison, Community Relations Supervisor, with Operation Friendship Seniors Society, in Edmonton, has seen some of the benefits firsthand. "Many of the seniors that visit the agency don't have family," says Jimmy, "but there is a sense of family here. The clients look out for each other and make lasting friendships." They enjoy talking, playing games, and having meals with other seniors and community members. Holiday meals are sponsored by the Kinsmen Club of Edmonton and Kinette Club of Edmonton. It really benefits the seniors because they have a place where they feel at home where there is companionship and a warm meal. Jimmy says, "Often I hear clients tell me it's nice to know people care about them." 

 

Join a Local Community Dinner 

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Learn more about how food security affects all Canadians on the Food Secure Canada website. If you or someone you know is struggling with food security, visit Food Banks Canada to find one near you.

If you’d like to help serve a community meal, volunteer to prepare and serve a meal at one of United Way's community partner agencies, please contact Judy, Volunteer Coordinator by calling 780-990-1000.