Friendship, Connecting and Food
Bruce Ellice-Flint BCHC Cert. Pos.Psych.
Here are four amazing YouTube videos on the subjects of friendship, connecting and food.
Eat Together (2 ½ mins)
This wonderful ad was created by a Canadian retail chain in response to a study showing that two-thirds of Canadians are eating alone.
You can watch it by clicking on this link:
The study that prompted the campaign, found that when families eat together children grow up happier and healthier (93%) and teens build stronger relationships with their parents (94%). When people eat together, they see each other as equals (78%) and connect with one another (94%).
In response to the add Canada now has an #eattogether day.
Roseto Effect (2 ½ mins)
The phenomenon known as the Roseto Effect has come up repeatedly in my counselling and Positive Psychology studies. Roseto is a town in Pennsylvania which was different (or an outlier), in terms of the health of the community compared to the rest of America. The only thing that scientists could identify as a reason for reduced heart disease was the close-knit community.
Emma (with her nutritionist cap on) wonders if the olive oil and Mediterranean menu might have had something to do with the positive health outcomes.
You can watch the video by clicking on this link:
The Blue Zones (19 ½ mins)
‘The Blue Zones – Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived Longest’ is a best selling book written and researched by Dan Beutner and his National Geographic team.
In his Ted talk, Dan Beutner concludes, “When it comes to longevity, there is no short term fix in a pill or anything else , but when you think about it, your friends are long term adventures, and therefore perhaps the most significant thing that you can do to add more years to your life and life to your years”.
The complete TED talk can be watched via this link:
Dan Beutner TED Talk
Epicurus on Happiness (24 mins)
People who love luxurious eating and drinking can sometimes be described as Epicurean. In fact, this is a complete misunderstanding. Epicurus chose to live a far from luxurious life. His meals consisted mainly of bread vegetables and a few olives. Cheese, to him, represented a feast.
Epicurus proposed that we only need three things to be happy. 1) friends 2 ) freedom 3) an analysed life. He said that luxurious food and drinks in no way protect you from harm.
In 306BC, Epicurus bought a large house outside Athens and asked a group of friends to move in with him. It was large enough for each to have their own quarters, – but everyone would come together for meals and conversations in the evenings. His ideas were distinctive in that to really benefit from friends he had to see them not just occasionally but he had to live with these friends at all times – they would be permanent companions. He said that before you eat or drink anything, one should consider who you will be eating or drinking with. Epicurus recommended that we try never even to eat a snack alone.
The Epicurean philosophy was around for over 400 years after his death.
The following video is from the popular British philosopher and author, Alain de Botton. It is episode 2 of 6 about (mainly ancient) thinkers who have influenced history. All the episodes are available on YouTube.
This episode can be accessed here:
Alain de Botton – Epicurus
These videos link the idea that by eating communally with family and friends we can enjoy a life that is healthier, happier and more fulfilled.
One common objection is “but I’m an introvert…”. Extrovert and introvert alike need relationships. Intimacy is a universal need among all humans. An introvert may need to work out how they can get their own space as well as connection.
In reflecting on our own culture, over say the last 40 years, it is interesting to note the growth in the number of restaurants and cafes. More and more, rather than eating at home, we are choosing to dine (in often crowded and noisy environments) surrounded by people who we don’t know. We share the food and the environment but usually don’t interact with the other diners.
On one hand this increase in dining out, might be in response to busy lives and increased disposable income. On the other, perhaps people are seeking the community (with its related benefits) talked about in each of the above videos? Are we feeling connection by sharing the experience of eating together? Or is this a sign of increasing levels of isolation in our communities and peoples subconscious efforts to counter this? If so, do restaurants and cafe’s fill the gap? What do you think?
Bruce Ellice-Flint is a Counsellor and Psychotherapist. He holds a Bachelor of Counselling and Human Change; with a post graduate certificate in Positive Psychology. For more information: http://elliceflint.com.au