The Food Marketing Institute Foundation has established September as Family Meals Month. While the campaign is focused on getting families to eat at least one additional meal together each week, let’s look at what a “family” means to adults over 50.
For many of you, your household may be shrinking for many reasons. Maybe your kids are on their own and live far from home, your parents might be in a senior living residence, or you might find yourself living on your own after many years of sharing your home with a spouse. Whatever the reason, Americans are increasingly eating alone. Many years ago, I researched the effect of widowhood on eating behaviors and nutrient intakes and found that widowhood changed the social environment of the men and women, altering the social meaning that eating held for them, resulting in negative effects on eating behaviors and nutrient intakes. Overwhelmingly, the men and women I interviewed said that eating alone decreased the enjoyment of mealtime. Adults who live alone may also lose the desire to cook for themselves.
Since dinner is identified as the most social of all the meals, what can you do to make it more social and healthy? Here are a few ideas to consider:
• Hang out in the grocery store. Many food retailers are providing more convenient, at home meal preparation stations, with a recipe card and all the needed ingredients at the point of the demonstration. One of the most delicious meals I never planned to make, came from watching and tasting a cooking demonstration at a local Publix. I called my sister and her daughter and stopped by her house on my way home to make broccoli cheese stuffed chicken with peach cranberry casserole. An unplanned event that was memorable, delicious, and social.
• Try an at home meal delivery kit. Many like HelloFresh have free trial offers to get you back in the kitchen. Invite a few friends or neighbors over to get them in on the kitchen action and to share in the delicious meals.
• Start a supper club; just like a book club, but with better food.
Sharing meals is more enjoyable than dining alone, and cooking costs less than dining out. So, for family meals month, make some new friends, meet a new neighbor, or bring old friends together to share a meal, a laugh, and good nutrition.
Visit Chris Rosenbloom’s website to learn more about healthy aging and ask a question about food and fitness. Her new book, along with co-author, Bob Murray, Food and Fitness After 50 is available for pre-order at Amazon.