13 Jul Eating in Good Company
Community Dining; It’s Food for Thought
It’s a word that might not be familiar, but it’s something we’ve increasingly grown to value. Commensality. It’s the practice of eating with others; communal eating; or, as we at Heritage Pointe of Fort Wayne senior living like to say, community eating.
We’re delighted by the fact that senior living has long embraced community eating and that now, it’s a growing restaurant trend. We are trendsetters. We’ve always known what professionals in dining are just learning. RestaurantFurniture.net reports that diners visiting restaurants “seemingly want a side of social interaction served with their meals.” This is especially the case in the aftermath of COVID, which caused devastating isolation. People are ‘hungry’ to get together for anything, especially to enjoy a meal. And so, more and more often, restaurants are offering and even promoting community dining, even adding special communal tables, to enhance social interaction.
Eating with Others is Good For You
One of the main reasons that commensality or community dining is growing in popularity is the fact that it’s good for you!
So good for you.
Studies show definitively that dining with companions promotes health and well-being. In fact, the publication HelpGuide.org says eating with others “can be as important as adding vitamins to your diet.”
The Canadian government has gone so far as to document the benefit of eating with others in their official food guidance. They recognize that “enjoying healthy food with family, friends, neighbours, or co-workers is a great way to connect and add enjoyment to your life…” It provides the opportunity to have quality time with others, share food traditions across cultures and generations, and perhaps even venture into healthier fare.
Promoting A Sense of Well-Being
Research has reported that the more individuals dine with others, the higher the likelihood they will feel happy and have a greater sense of well-being. One of the few things even better than a great meal is sharing it with others. Physically, social eating can activate beneficial neurochemicals. By releasing endogenous opioids and oxytocin, the result is an increase in happiness. There’s also an improvement in digestive function.
The Time of the Day to Connect
Crossing generations and cultures, community dining is more than simply sitting in the same area together while eating. It ensures that mealtime is a treasured part of the day during which people can connect, talk, laugh, and share memories and stories. Adults will agree that eating with others makes mealtimes more satisfying…some even say that it makes the food taste better.
Furthermore, an important benefit is that eating with others is known to help improve one’s nutritional intake. This reflects ‘social facilitation,’ an improvement in an individual’s performance when it occurs with others present. Relating to eating, this translates to individuals, when eating with their peers, making better food choices, eating more regularly, consuming more nutritious items, and indulging in less stress and binge-eating.
It’s no surprise that many seniors report that they feel most lonely when they’re eating alone. Community eating, on the other hand, builds a sense of belonging.
At Heritage Pointe of Fort Wayne, we are proud of our partnership with Morrison Living, a culinary leader in senior living. Morrison Living’s statement aligns with our dedication to the dining experience. They say, “We believe that shared meals and special events serve as the heartbeat of your community’s culture.”
Our beautiful, sunlit restaurant-style dining venues provide a wonderful multisensory experience…the aroma of delicious food, the sound of conversation and laughter, the taste of delectable fare, and the sight of friends enjoying each other’s company.