Perhaps it does not surprise you - perhaps it does. The words could might as well be based on my own experience, but to minimise your scepticism, this idea is based upon data from a survey by American Heart Association from 2022.
Once upon a time (said with a British accent) a meal was something that was associated with community. Something you did together. Besides food being necessary to our survival, food is also pleasure and often we enjoy enjoying pleasure together. Perhaps a vacation. A conversation. A sunset. Sex. A meal. The question is, how come we have started to enjoy less together.
Never have the amount of input been bigger also meaning we have more to deal with. This, however, does not mean, that our capacity grows bigger too. The brain is in an evolution, but there are still limitations to how much we can deal with at a time. All this means that we have to be more selective: what do we choose? What do we choose not to? What to spend time on? What not to spend time on? Is the meal something we want to spent time on? According to a survey by Madkulturen, the social aspect around a meal was set to be a higher priority in 2021 in comparison to 2017.
The meal can easily be one of the things that we choose not to spend too much time on, which is also why is quickly becomes something we can do in front of a screen, on the road to somewhere or even something to skip. Unfortunately, this also means that many of the social and psychological benefits of having meals together diminish.
One of the most valuable benefits about having meals together is the slowness and decrease of stress. The meal becomes a break where we take the time for ourselves and each other while often experiencing the feeling of belongingness. To eat together is also a mirroring where we in several ways imitate each other and experience syncronisity.
So, why is this even important? It is important because it is inevitably accessible to us. It does not cost extra as we have to eat anyways. Hence, it makes sense to invest in eating together; both in our home and at work. Enjoy in community. Perhaps you already know but if not, here are some ideas for how to easier get to eat together: