Who says dinner and who says dinner

Eating is more than filling up

A new trend is emerging that is as old as humanity itself: eating together instead of alone. Even our ancestors in fur vests sat around the campfire and shared buffalo and berries. Today everything is "to go" - whether fast food or fine snacks. We eat on the street, in the car, in front of the telly - often alone. The many initiatives that are currently emerging in a wide variety of areas show that the desire for company at the table is growing: for widowed people, refugees, amateur cooks, singles or for children whose parents have no time.

Münster residents invent "Our Dinner"

Under the motto "You eat less alone together", for example, the Internet platform "Our Dinner" has been offering the opportunity to meet up to cook, eat in a restaurant or grill outdoors since 2012. "We want to bring people together through food. The offer is not only aimed at singles", says managing director and co-founder Rüdiger Ontrup from Münster. The free portal has more than 3,000 registered participants all over Germany. About 60 percent of them are singles, so Ontrup. Participants can find out who has joined the group via the member profiles."This transparency offers security. I want to know who I'm meeting with."

"Eating together stabilizes one's own social network"

From a scientific point of view, it is desirable that people eat meals together again, "because eating together stabilizes one's own social network and is of great importance for the social embedding of a person. It is like social cement", says Professor Dr. Thomas Ellrott, head of the Institute for Nutritional Psychology at the University Medical Center Göttingen. Social networks could create a sense of togetherness on the surface, but eating together creates a more sustainable social network," says the doctor and adds. "Celebrating adventure meals with friends at the weekend is therefore a community and meaningful scenario."

Eating with colleagues = better work performance

When colleagues regularly have lunch together, it improves their collaboration and work performance. This was shown by a study by American researchers at Cornell University last December. German companies have also been using eating together for a long time for team building and appreciation. "It's no longer just about cheap calories, but about the socially connecting element and the health of the workforce"says Thomas Ellrott.

Family meals are becoming rarer

The number of shared family meals has plummeted in the past few decades, says Ellrott and gives the reasons for this: "On the one hand the changed role of women from housewives to working people, on the other hand the temporal separation through different learning and working hours, especially shift work."The increasing time devoted to different media, but also an increasing variety of personal interests also play a major role, says Ellrott. It has become more difficult to get the family together at one table, but the meal together is more than fulfilling "social campfire" are very important social functions.

Important for children's development

"The parents have to sit at the table. This shows the children that community is important. In general, children learn a lot while eating: It's about communication, tolerance, bonds, that is, all of the very important things", says Ellrott. Eating together is a good opportunity for communication. Everyday things can be discussed, plans made, problems solved. Ellrott:"And if there is a real argument, you should say: We'll discuss that later. In this way you prevent the common food from being negatively charged."

Include young people in planning and preparation

Many pubescent youngsters prefer to eat in the company of their cell phones and / or the television than with their parents. In order to whet their appetite for family meals again, it makes sense to involve them in the planning, selection and preparation, advises Ellrott: "Changing roles is also very motivating: Today mom cooks, tomorrow dad and the day after tomorrow the youngsters themselves. This role swap with parents is perfectly tailored to the basic need for adulthood."The ability to cook for yourself becomes part of the definition of adulthood for young people.

Common meals to prevent obesity

A new scientific study on the value of family meals has once again shown very clearly that there is an opposing relationship between the frequency of family meals and being overweight. Ellrott: "Such meals are usually healthier and replace the constant in-between meals, which often lead to a higher total calorie intake. Meals together are therefore also an important component in preventing obesity."