Eating socially is an important part of human life, and a gathering with friends, family, or coworkers can bolster the spirits. Sometimes, though, it’s helpful to have time to eat alone when you don’t have to focus on others and can enjoy your meal by yourself—but recent research says not to have too much time eating alone.
Research spurred by questions about how the nature of the pandemic has changed our eating habits comes to us this month from the American Menopause Society. The study elaborated on previous studies which found that eating alone can be detrimental to emotional and physical health and found a connection between women’s health and social eating.
When people eat alone, they tend to eat faster, consuming more in a shorter amount of time which taxes the body and also raises the risk of developing depression and cardiovascular disease. This is especially meaningful for women because their risk of developing cardiovascular disease increases once they go through menopause since estrogen can be protective for the heart and is significantly decreased after menopause.
The findings were so significant that the study’s 600 older female participants who ate alone weren’t receiving the same intakes of macronutrients or electrolytes and were almost 3 times as likely to have chest pain (angina) symptomatic of heart disease.
The study noted that there is a large socioeconomic influence contributing to these results, especially given that older female adults who are eating alone may have financial difficulties which results in poorer diets. The takeaway here is that eating socially is helpful for both physical and emotional well-being.
Han-Gyo Choi, Hye-Jin Kim, Seok-Jung Kang. Association between eating alone and cardiovascular diseases in elderly women. Menopause, 2021; Publish Ahead of Print DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001887