We have all heard the expression, “you are what you eat,” but we often don’t think about the importance not only of what we eat, but who we eat with — the social component of food. Through shared meals at family gatherings, celebrations and life events, food is what connects us to one another. This is why food is involved in so many religious and cultural rituals worldwide. The food we eat is evocative; it reminds us of family, home, community and love.
As we age, we can become vulnerable to losses and social isolation. If a partner dies, we may be preparing and eating meals alone. As children grow up and move away, we find our social meal times reduced and our joy in the pleasure of eating diminished. It is noteworthy that one of the key factors in depression is loss of appetite and pleasure, as well as depleted energy. Food keeps our vital life force flowing.
The topic of nutrition can be quite confusing, as contradictory positions are often verified by scientific research. However, there is little doubt that we are nourished not just by what is on our plates, but by the primary sustenance of life: healthy relationships, physical activity, meaningful engagement and spiritual practice. Many researchers are investigating the social aspects of nutrition, and building programs that incorporate primary foods into our diets.
One woman at the forefront of this movement is Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D., from Tufts School of Nutrition. Her book, The Social Network Diet: Change Yourself, Change the World, offers a powerful approach to making healthy changes by harnessing the power of social networks. Through the Strong Women initiative, a grassroots movement to improve food and physical activity environments, Dr. Nelson takes a community based approach to lifestyle changes.
Interpersonal engagement, whether through shared meals or shared interests, is one of the foundations of Connected for Life. Join us at an upcoming event and connect with people who share your passions.
Click Here to see the full list of upcoming Connected for Life events, or call 781-433-6685 to speak with a member of the Connected for Life team.