By Donna Gates, as seen on:
A 2010 study from the University of Arizona found an increased level of happiness in those people who spend less time participating in small talk and more time having deep, meaningful conversations.
The psychologist leading the study, Dr. Matthias Mehl, explains that meaningful conversations make people happy because we are:
- Driven to create meaning in our lives.
- Enjoy connecting with others.
Social conversations affect of our psychological health in the same way that our relationship to food affects our physical wellbeing.
Think of it this way: When we take the time to get to know our farmers, buy locally and make food at home, we simply eat healthier.
The most profound relationship with food comes from the experience of growing and harvesting our own food. Buying food locally and speaking with the farmers involved in its transit from their hands to our table also cultivate a relationship with food. These steps not only build a relationship with our local community and with food, but also with nature itself.
Picking up food through a drive-thru window is the equivalent of a superficial conversation. There is a disconnect from the person who makes the food, from sitting down and eating the food and from the life cycle of the food itself.
In spite of this, fast-food is a bustling business. Clearly, plenty of us have enough reason to eat quick and convenient food. The most obvious reason is a busy schedule.
Two things that we can do to enhance our relationship with food:
1. Handle and prepare food at home. When we cook most of our meals at home, we avoid many of the food toxins that are normally present in heavily refined and processed foods.
For example, even the Food and Drug Administration now warns us about the dangerous health effects of food dyes. At the same time, many of us still snack on processed foods that contain dyes and feed these foods to our children. Food dyes have been linked to cancer, ADD, and ADHD.
Keep in mind that eating prepared food from a box while at home is not the same as preparing food at home.
2. Read labels. While it is a good idea to avoid heavily processed foods, some processing is unavoidable.
For example, almost all fats and oils, ranging from high quality butter to olive oil, all go through some kind of extraction process. When we read labels, we get an idea of the degree of processing a food has gone through.
When we read food labels, we also learn if a food contains any added chemicals, preservatives, sugars or poor quality oils. If an ingredient label contains words you do not understand, put the food down and keep shopping.
When it comes to health, whether psychological or physical, relationships matter. Health tip for the day: Get lost in a meaningful conversation while preparing a meal at home!
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