At each Grub Club event, we embrace the old tradition of bringing people together at the kitchen table. With each course, each hanging light, each colorful napkin, and each bite, the environment is fueled by a sense of conviviality.
Conviviality – the pleasure of eating together – comes from two Latin word convīviālis (pertaining to a feast) and convīvium (a living together). It is the heart and soul of food cultures around the world where steaming dishes are served in large pots and passed around the table. Although everyone has their own plate at most of our supper clubs, everyone shares the pleasure of eating together in an intimate dining experience.
Conviviality at our supper clubs is not only a happy experience, but a healthy one, too! We know that research has told us that people tend to eat more when dining with more people, but what about mental and social health benefits? It’s a secret we’re spreading around London: supper clubs offer many health benefits to help us all live a more wholesome life.
Supper clubs encourage people to engage in conversation.
Humans are social animals; therefore, conversation and interaction is essential to well-being. Having social ties and spending time with others helps us maintain psychological well-being because interacting with others helps us feel connected and included.
Conversation is the first way in which we engage with others, and supper clubs open doors to talk with friends and soon-to-be acquaintances. At our supper clubs, it’s okay to talk with food in your mouth because you’re improving your mental health – maybe just don’t do that with every bite!
Many of our supper clubs encourage conversation to break down differences and look for ways to make our world a little brighter. Supper clubs like Conflict Café and The Syrian Supper Club promote discussion about the conflicts around the world. Without conversation, either big or small, we simply would not be the people and the world we are today.
Despite the recent news stories encouraging people to eat alone, research from the Thai Cohort Study found that the higher a person rated his or her unhappiness level, the more likely he or she ate alone. The effects on happiness were strongest among women who are more likely to live alone in the UK than men. With 7.7 million people in the UK living alone, rising divorce rates, and more adults waiting longer before getting hitched, the opportunities for eating alone have never been higher. Restaurants featuring dining-for-one are popping up across Great Britain, Europe, and across the Atlantic.
Eating with others allows for that much-needed social interaction that fills our spirits and boosts our happiness in a way that eating alone never can. Besides, if it doesn’t make you happy, why do it?
Eating together is a solution to improve older women’s nutritional intake.
Because women are more likely to live alone, they are more likely to eat alone. Not only is this behaviour linked to higher rates of unhappiness, but recent research has found these women’s meals have far less nutritional value. These ladies tend to oversimplify cooking and eating – perhaps because cohabitating women more likely associate cooking and food as central to their and their family’s lives – which results in meals that lack social and nutritional value.
The research’s proposed solution: encourage these women to eat together. A supper club offers that perfect opportunity for singles to eat and engage with others, including other singles. Although many may come alone to a supper club, no one leaves without making a new acquiance.
Just as couples who work out together are more likely to be healthy, sharing a meal with that special someone has many health benefits.
An article from the University of Edinburgh examined the changes in eating patterns and social value of sharing a meal for young, cohabitating couples. They found that both men and women felt that eating a meal together was important and made an effort to eat together in the evenings.
Not only is dining together important, but it makes for stronger and healthier couples. Being in an intimate, cohabitating relationship allows couples to encourage each other to eat healthier as their closeness often results in their diets converging. And couples who try to improve their health together – as food plays a crucial role in health – are three times as likely to stay happily together than those who go it alone. Besides, hungry people are less interested in social events like dating, sex, and hanging out with friends.
Going out to a supper club together is an enjoyable experience that allows for couples to spend time together in a stress-free environment – reminiscent of that first date but unlike any other dinner date. And in true Nicolas Sparks fashion, one couple proved just how powerful eating together can be: after holding hands at breakfast for their 70 years of marriage, this American couple died within 15 hours of each other.
Spending time with friends relieves stress.
More so than with a partner or one’s family, spending time with friends is relaxing. Maybe that’s why four out of every ten women in the UK would rather spend time with their girlfriends than with their husbands. Spending more time with friends from multiple social circles can lower the risk of cognitive decline as one ages, including demensia.
But why are friends so good for our brains? Because social engagement requires mental engagement, and because forming and keeping friendships gives us a sense of belonging. By sharing a meal with friends, you are benefiting your taste buds, your brain, and your friend’s health, too.
For some, family meals are a thing of the past, but the social and health benefits of dining with your loved ones is still relevant. We feel nostalgic for a favorite meal our mothers cooked for us when we were young, and that nostalgia is precisely what our brains need. Research tells us that nostalgia is an important resource for psychological health and well-being, especially among individuals at risk for poor mental health. Nostalgia also plays an important role in meaning-making during times when we lose track of who we are and where our lives are taking us.
The frequency of family dinners is linked to emotional well-being and life satisfaction. This study found that those families who eat together more often reported higher life satisfaction, easier communication between parents and adolescents, and positive mental health.
While time together is sparse and never long enough, and supper clubs offer the perfect opportunity to enjoy a family meal outside of the house. The unique venues around London are difficult for any stubborn sibling to object, and the health benefits of family dining are impossible to argue.
Laughter leads to better mental and physical health.
Supper clubs create a social and fun environment. That’s why you’ll never go to a supper club without hearing at least one table roar with laughter. These experiences are not only enjoyable in the moment but also beneficial for mental and physical health afterward.
Laughter relaxes the body by triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals that can ease muscle pain. It also boosts the immune system and improves blood flow, protecting against heart attacks. Laughter also reduces stress and anxieties, improves our moods, and strengthens relationships.
Many nonfiction books focus on the healing power of laughter, and some people are capitalizing on this study through laughter-devoted time, like laughter yoga.