Mental Health

Mealtime With Others Appears to Decrease Stress

Most of us have probably heard it at some point: it’s good for families to eat meals together. But a new report from the American Heart Association takes that advice one step further, saying that regular mealtimes with others could be a simple solution to manage chronic stress—something that can increase our risk of heart disease and stroke.

The Survey Results

In September 2022, Wakefield Research surveyed 1,000 adults in the United States for the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good movement. The results showed that:

• 84% wish they could share a meal more often with loved ones

• 67% say sharing a meal reminds them of the importance of connecting with other people

• 54% say sharing a meal reminds them to slow down and take a break

• 59% say they are more likely to make healthier food choices when eating with other people

• 65% say they are at least “somewhat stressed”

• 27% say they are “extremely or very stressed”

• 69% of working adult surveyed said they would feel less stressed at work if they had more time to take a break and share a meal with a co-worker

• Nearly all parents surveyed said they had lower levels of stress among their family when they regularly connected over a meal.

“Sharing meals with others is a great way to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and improve social connection, particularly for kids” says Associate Director of Preventative Cardiology at Johns Hopkins Dr. Erin Michos. “Chronic, constant stress can also increase your lifetime risk of heart disease and stroke, so it is important for people to find ways to reduce and manage stress as much as possible, as soon as possible.” Michos is also a co-author of the American Heart Association’ statement on Psychological Health, Well-being, and the Mind-Heart-Body Connection

For recipe ideas and conversation starters, visit


Wendy Burt-Thomas writes about the brain, mental health and parenting.

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