A new survey from the American Heart Association has revealed that 91 percent of parents have noticed that their family is less stressed when they eat together. Among the respondents, 84 percent wish they could share a meal together with their family more often.
Overall, the participants reported that they eat alone about half of the time. The research suggests that stress reduction, connecting with other people and taking time to slow down are the greatest benefits of family mealtime.
Stress levels were found to be extremely high among 27 percent of the respondents, while 65 percent said they are at least somewhat stressed. Chronic stress is known to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The results of the survey indicate that family mealtime could be a simple solution to help manage stress.
“Sharing meals with others is a great way to reduces stress, boost self-esteem and improve social connection, particularly for kids,” said Dr. Erin Michos, associate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins. “Chronic, constant stress can also increase your lifetime risk of heart disease and stroke, so it is important for people to find ways to reduce and manage stress as much as possible, as soon as possible.“
Most of the survey respondents said they are more likely to make healthier food choices when eating with other people but have difficulty aligning schedules with their friends or family to do so.
“We know it’s not always as easy as it sounds to get people together at mealtime. Like other healthy habits, give yourself permission to start small and build from there,” said Dr. Michos. “Set a goal to gather friends, family or coworkers for one more meal together each week. If you can’t get together in person, think about how you can share a meal together over the phone or a computer.”
The American Heart Association will share practical and budget-friendly meal tips each Tuesday through December. People can follow #TogetherTuesday on social media or text 2gether to 51555 to get tips sent directly to their phone. You can also find free recipes and more at heart.org/together.
Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and Earth.com.