Happiness will be served at the dinner table

A long table with steamy pots, a relaxed barbecue in the park or maybe even that well-deserved kebap after a night out with friends; eating can make us very happy. However, it is not just the food which makes it so pleasant. The fact that you do it together is just as important. In a recent article, anthropologist Robin Dunbar concludes that people who regularly eat with others feel better about themselves and feel more embedded in their communities. When asked by a journalist of The Guardian how sharing food can have such significant psychological and social effects, Dunbar admits that “we simply do not know”. Somehow, eating together triggers the brain to release hormones such as endorphin which create a pleasant feeling. While eating together, Dunbar argues, our brains get a bit ‘high’. He is not the first to point out the social and psychological side effects of sharing food for humans. Long before neuroscience, surveys and experiments, writers noticed the importance of the common meal. As the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch wrote, “we invite each other not to eat and drink, but to eat and drink together”.

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