Happiness is sharing a meal

 
 According to a new study, there are tons of benefits to eating with friends and family. Photo credit: Getty Images.

According to a new study, there are tons of benefits to eating with friends and family. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Have you ever stayed awake long into the night wondering about the secret to happiness? Well, according to a new study by Oxford Economics, the secret is out and it’s completely achievable. Eating meals together improves mood, combats feelings of isolation, and even improves self-image.

The study shows that those who often eat alone scored 7.9 points lower than the national average on an index designed to measure happiness. This supports what psychologists have long suggested, that humans are social animals who gain major health benefits from face-to-face interaction. “One of the biggest predictors of physical and mental health problems is loneliness,” says psychologist Dr. Nick Lake of the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Eating a meal together provides a simple fix by creating a sense of camaraderie and community.

Improvements in mood and mental health aren’t the only benefits to eating together. In her book, Eating Together, Alice Julier argues that sharing a meal creates a sense of equality that helps us be more accepting of people with other backgrounds, whether it be race, religion, or political leaning. “Meals provide a landscape to explore all manner of cultural and economic dilemmas," says Julier. "Decisions about whom we eat with, in what manner, and what kinds of food are inextricably tied to social boundaries." 

With all of the physical, mental, and social benefits that come from eating a meal together, it’s safe to say doing so is just another part of supporting good food.

The Takeaway: Want more social meals but having trouble finding your crowd? Meeting new people to share a meal with is easier than ever. You can start by signing up for one of the many potluck clubs popping up in cities around the world.