Like virtually every other aspect of our lives, the way we dine has been revolutionised over the past ten years, partly due to changing technologies, and partly due to different social behaviours and working habits.
Our eating habits are a hugely important part of our daily lives, and the way that we choose to eat is closely linked to our physical health, as well as our mental wellbeing.
Our mealtimes today scarcely resemble how we used to eat a couple of decades ago, and amid the changing social nature of eating, our quality of life may be suffering. Let’s take a look at how eating habits have changed in the UK over the past few years, and how we can make sure we’re eating in a healthy, enriching way, every meal time.
Perhaps the most striking change to the way most people tend to eat nowadays is regarding the social aspect of dining. According to a recent dining table study by Furniture Village, more and more of us are eating alone, often focused on the TV rather than engaging in a social mealtime with friends, family or housemates. A full 54% of us prefer the quick convenience of a solitary TV dinner, despite evidence from psychologists that eating this way can “increase negative feelings such as anxiety and sadness”, as opposed to a more communal, collective dining experience which can improve relationships and wellbeing.
This one shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to most of us. Brits are completely addicted to takeaways, with Londoners, in particular, being the worst culprits, with almost a quarter of them admitting to ordering in a takeaway 4-6 times per week. Rather than sitting around the dining table to a nice cooked meal, time-poor Brits are ordering more and more takeaways than ever before. In spite of the negative health impacts of regular takeaway consumption, convenience seems to be winning the day.
Too Busy to Eat
In our increasingly busy and fast-paced lives, it should come as no surprise that our quality meal times are suffering as a result. 34% of Brits have admitted to being too busy to stop for a meal at all, while 40% state that they don’t eat regularly at the dining table due to long working hours. Eating at desks is increasingly commonplace at workspaces across the country, despite rafts of evidence suggesting that the practice is bad for your weight, heart health and stress levels. Factoring in time for a quality meal around the dining table is a proven way to improve social relationships and lower stress, so factoring this into your routine should be a priority.
How to Improve
It’s clear that as a nation we’re on the wrong track when it comes to eating well. Taking time to have a social meal that you can share with your loved ones has tangible health benefits, and taking steps to plan in advance so that it’s part of your routine is always a good idea. It could also be a good idea to impose a digital detox around mealtimes, to help you and others at the table appreciate being in the ‘here and now’. Finally, make sure to create a proper mealtime routine in order to maximise health benefits, and don’t hesitate to invite your loved ones to the dining table.
Mealtimes should always complement your quality of life, not detract from it. By taking the right approach to dining, you can enjoy improved relationships, mental health and even benefit from better physical health – proving it really is worth every effort.