Food: Bringing Friends, Family and Cultures Together

There are a few tangible items that all humans need: air, water, shelter and food. Eating is essential for most forms of life, and experimenting with different spices, ingredients and recipes is a common way to socialize.

Think about it – most holidays or family gatherings include a meal that is served every year. Food is tied to tradition; food is tied to memories, and many people don’t realize the importance of food as a way to bring people together.

In fact, food is so ingrained in our social landscape that it’s hard to imagine any kind of gathering without it. From holidays to a summer barbecue to meeting friends for lunch, to family dinners, food is almost always involved, often serving as the main attraction. Even holidays and key family traditions can center around certain meals and foods. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without turkey, just as Christmas wouldn’t be the same without ham for many families.

Researchers from the University of Oxford recently found a correlation between how often people eat with others and their life satisfaction. Their results suggest that the more often one eats with others, the more likely they are to feel satisfied and happy with their lives. Socializing is important for one’s physical and mental wellbeing, and social eating plays an important role in bonding with others.

Socializing with food involved has more pros than cons, including:

  • Instilling a sense of comfort
  • Helping us get out of our comfort zone and trying new things
  • Encouraging a sense of belonging because of common food interests
  • Allowing us to be present and engaged while eating
  • Providing a bonding experience
  • Improving emotional wellbeing

Food brings people from different cultures together, too. It’s a fantastic vehicle for learning about people with different backgrounds. Food is part of your family history and who you are, so get to know your close friends and relatives better by hosting a dinner party and having everyone bring a dish that is representative of their heritage.

Embrace the social aspect of food by trying out some of these fun ideas:

  • Eat as a family
  • Host a dinner party
  • Share dishes around the table
  • Set a weekly dinner for everyone to attend
  • Bring food in for the office
  • Take a cooking class

Embrace food. It’s delicious, we need it, and eating with others can create memories that last a lifetime. Food has the potential to become a part of who you are. Open yourself up to food, try something new, and eat with your friends and family!

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Photo credit: Matt Baume

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