I read the other day that up to 9 million people now live alone in the UK.
Whilst this does not mean that there are 9 million people craving company, it is quite clear that unwanted “aloness” can have a negative impact on food intake and enjoyment.
You see, food is not just about nourishment but it is part our social networks. In the animal word many species eat alone except lions, where the pride shares the spoils of the chase. Eating alone removes part of the enjoyment of the meal experience.
In our society to sit with others and eat a meal is a significant and important social event. Families gather around the table to eat together, to share stories of the day and to strengthen relationships.
In the “old days” (yes, I remember them well) hospital wards all had dining tables where those who were able ate their 3 meals each day. This promoted companionship and even a little competition amongst the patients where if someone noticed that someone else was eating more than them, they would be encouraged to eat a little more. This was good for nutrition status and I was greatly saddened the day the dining table and sideboard were removed from the wards in my hospital.
I also observe in restaurants and cafes these days, families and friends may sit together but many will be using their mobile phones rather than engaging in chatter and conversation with those they are with. I even know of one acquaintance who actually sent a text message to another person they were sitting with. Madness!
Enjoy your meal with your companions, chat about the food you are eating or just revel in the noise and pleasure of a crowd.