One of the most essential ingredients of healthy eating for seniors is company. Technically, it’s known as ‘communal dining,’ but at Lexington Square Senior Living, we more fittingly refer to it as ‘community dining.’ Communal sounds a bit cold and non-descript, while ‘community’ refers to a group of people with shared interests and values. And the ‘community’ aspect of shared dining is what makes the practice enjoyable as well as beneficial to seniors.
Across many generations and cultures, community dining is more than simply sitting in the same area together while eating. Mealtime is a treasured part of the day during which people can talk, laugh, commiserate, tell stories, reconnect, and share memories. Most adults will agree that eating with others makes mealtimes more satisfying…some even say that it makes the food taste better.
Studies show definitively that dining with companions promotes health and well-being. In fact, publication HelpGuide.org says, eating with others “can be as important as adding vitamins to your diet.”
There are several reasons why community eating is good for you. Among the top benefits is that eating with others is known to help improve one’s nutritional intake. This is a form of what’s called ‘social facilitation’ which refers to an improvement in an individual’s performance when it occurs with others present. Relating to eating, this translates to individuals making better food choices: eating more regularly, consuming more nutritious items, and indulging in less stress and binge eating when they’re with their peers.
Many seniors report that it’s when they’re eating alone that they feel most lonely. Community eating, on the other hand, builds a sense of belonging.
Physical benefits of social eating also include the activation of beneficial neurochemicals. By releasing endogenous opioids and oxytocin, the result is an increase in happiness. There’s also an improvement in digestive function.
Notably, reports suggest that those eating socially are less prone to metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions including increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, excess body fat and high blood sugar.
At Lexington Square Senior Living Communities in Lombard and Elmhurst, our beautiful restaurant-style dining venues provide a wonderful multi-sensory experience…the aroma of delicious food, the sound of conversation and laughter, the taste of delectable fare, and the sight of friends enjoying each other’s company.