With the change in season and the cooler weather upon us, we join together in celebrating “Eat Better, Eat Together” month in October. This holiday is meant to focus our attention on the importance of connection and community, encouraging us to set the table to share a meal with family and friends, and make the time to enjoy our food mindfully and with joy.
At Sharp Again, we believe our food choices– what we eat and drink– influence our brain function. We know some foods can promote brain health, and others can diminish it, causing brain fog, fatigue, and a number of other problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
People who eat together often make smarter food choices given the planning that goes into building a group meal. It’s also a time for socializing, sharing stories, and building memories– all of which benefit the brain. Research suggests that sharing a meal correlates with increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and healthy nutrients. Data also links shared meals with health and psychosocial outcomes in youth, including less obesity, decreased risk for eating disorders, and academic achievement.
It’s sometimes challenging to bring loved ones together in communal meals, so here are some ideas to help you “Eat Better, Eat Together” this month:
You don’t have to dive straight into nightly family meals; start slowly by carving out one or two meals a week at first.
Even those who live alone can enjoy the social and nutritional benefits of group meals. Try sharing a home-cooked weekly meal with friends or colleagues, in a different home each week.
Take time on the weekend to prepare meals and ask people about their menu preferences to take some of the pressure off the rushed weekday pace. Try doubling the recipes and freezing some to save for later in the week.
Involve children, family members and friends in the preparation of the food. This can be a fun activity for younger children to learn how to experiment in the kitchen, and for older children, it’s great preparation for leaving the nest better prepared. Assigning easy tasks to senior family members helps them feel they have contributed as well.
Digestion begins with meal preparation. Once you start to smell the food, enzymes are released that stimulate and aid your digestion. Involving everyone who will be eating to join in the meal prep helps their digestion start to stir!
During mealtime, take time to chew. Look up from your plate and engage in conversation with your loved ones. Try closing your eyes to allow your taste buds to experience the food. Most importantly, take joy in sharing a meal!
In her coaching practice, Essential~Wholeness, Samantha Anderson, NBC-HWC, uses food as medicine and a variety of mind-body practices to offer personalized and holistic solutions helping her clients live their fullest lives with energy, health, and purpose. Certified as a ReCODE Coach using Dr. Dale Bredesen’s Protocol, she is committed to helping her clients rebuild their health and resiliency through healthy aging programs.
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