Food brings us together. Whether grabbing a quick bite with a friend or enjoying a Thanksgiving feast, socializing over a meal boosts our emotional health by giving us a sense of belonging and bonding. Research also shows socializing can have huge benefits for someone recovering from a health issue.
For someone newly facing eating challenges, however, social eating can feel daunting. So, how can you best support someone as they rediscover the pleasures of social eating?
- Do your research. If you’re eating out, review restaurant menus in advance to see if they have food items that would accommodate specific needs. For example, some people may require pureed food for safety. A menu item like custard, pudding, soup, or mashed potatoes would fit this criteria.
- Dine with like-minded people. Arrange an informal get-together with other patients and families in similar situations. Encourage everyone to enjoy the conversation and celebrate the experience rather than focusing on disabilities. Enlist a support group or arrange a clinician-led presentation to promote the event.
- Teach others. Don’t be afraid to inform others how to include your loved one in an activity. Help friends and family explore ways to incorporate people into gatherings. Explain their current diet and what foods they can and cannot tolerate. You’ll be surprised how creative people can get to make someone feel welcome.
- Bring your own food. Don’t hesitate to bring your own food to a restaurant or gathering. The goal is for everyone to be present, comfortable, and enjoy socializing with one another. A delicious, portable snack like theEATBar can be a great option as your loved one dips his or her foot back into social mealtimes.