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Chronic ongoing stress can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke over the course of a lifetime, but a new survey by the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives for all, suggests that regular mealtimes with others may be a simple stress-busting solution.

Of 1,000 US adults nationwide surveyed in September 2022 as part of the American Heart Association’s Healthy for Good movement by Wakefield Research, an overwhelming majority (84%) say they want to share meals with loved ones more often, and nearly all parents report about a lower level level stress among their family as they regularly bond over meals.

To make eating together easier and help people reap the heart, mind and body benefits that come with it, the American Heart Association will be sharing practical and budget-friendly eating tips every Tuesday through December. People can follow #TogetherTuesday below social networks or text 2gether to 51555 to get advice direct to their phone.

“Sharing food with others is a great way to reduce stress, boost self-esteem and improve social connections, especially for children,” said Erin Michos, MD, MHS, American Heart Association volunteer, associate director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins, and co-author of the statement. American Heart Association on Psychological Health, Well-Being, and the Mind-Heart-Body Connection.

“Chronic, ongoing stress can also increase life risk heart illness and stroke, so it’s important for people to find ways to reduce stress as quickly as possible and manage it as much as possible.’

Connecting with friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors benefits people beyond stress relief. in fact, survey found that 67% of people say eating together reminds them of the importance of connecting with other people, and 54% say it reminds them to slow down and take a break.

Those surveyed say they are more likely (59%) to make healthier food choices when they eat with other people, but struggle to coordinate schedules with friends or family, according to the survey. Overall, respondents reported eating alone about half of the time.

“We know it’s not always as easy as it seems to bring people together over meals. Like other healthy habits, allow yourself to start small and build up,” Michas said. “Make it a goal to gather friends, family or colleagues for one more meal each week. If you can’t get together in person, think about how you can share a meal together over the phone or computer.”

The American Heart Association survey also found that a majority (65%) of adults say they experience at least some stress, and more than a quarter (27%) experience extreme or severe stress. Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) respondents who work full or part time said they would feel less stressed at work if they had more time to take a break and eat with a coworker.

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Additional information:
Glenn N. Levine et al., Psychological Health, Well-Being, and the Mind-Heart-Body Connection: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association, Circulation (2021). DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000947

Citation: New Survey: 91% of Parents Say Their Families Are Less Stressful When They Eat Together (2022, October 11) Retrieved October 11, 2022, from survey-parents-family-stressed .html

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