Humans have broken bread together since ancient times. National Geographic says that a circular loaf of bread with scoring marks — baked to be divided with others — was retrieved from the ashes of Vesuvius. Biblical references to “breaking bread” are as old as time, and today the phrase still represents sharing a meal together. Food provides nourishment necessary to sustain life, but dining also can be an act of socialization, community, and love. Psychology Today says that, since food is essential for survival, it gives people an ideal opportunity to express love through sharing sustenance with others. Sharing a love of food with others is a great gift that can be given in various ways.
Countless studies underscore the importance of sitting down to eat meals together as a family. A family meal can help with everything from maintaining healthy weights (as reported in The Journal of Pediatrics) to improving performance at school to solidifying personal relationships among family members. Family meals encourage conversation and a step back from digital distractions and other tasks that tend to pull families in opposite directions. The dining table is a safe place where everyone can talk about their lives and enjoy a delicious meal at the same time.
Food can be a comfort. Just think about how Mom’s warm soup and grilled cheese made you feel after a chilly day spent playing in the snow. Chocolate can help mend a broken heart, and friends may commiserate over an ice cream sundae. Bringing food to mourners is a traditional practice and is even mentioned in scripture. According to Jewish law, the first meal that mourners eat after returning from a burial should be brought to them by friends and neighbors. Taking a casserole over to a friend or family member who has suffered a loss, is recovering from an illness or needs a dose of encouragement is a great way to share a love of food.
Preparing a family recipe together is a great way to learn about food and one’s personal history. Recipes that are passed on from one generation to another keep traditions alive and can be an easy way for youngsters to learn about their ancestral history.
Sharing a meal or cooking with someone you love may help improve your mental health. Data from a 2014 study from the Mental Health Organization found eating well and together is associated with good mental health, while a poor diet can contribute to overall poor physical and mental health.
Bringing brownies to a new neighbor or welcoming a new coworker with treats in the office is a sweet way to facilitate new relationships. Food is a connection that binds the human race. Sharing and enjoying food together offers immense benefits.