I have been doing a bit of research recently on the aspect of loneliness and food intake, to explain the value for people to get healthy meals delivered. It is astounding the amount of research that has been done by researchers on the topic. So here is a blog article on the subject this week to highlight the topic.
When you live alone, you can hog the bathroom, watch whatever you want on TV. You can eat an entire pizza in your underwear without judgment. Although the benefits of living alone seem endless, a healthy diet is not one of them. According to a recent study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, those who live alone are more likely to suffer from poor nutrition. This is due to eating less fruits and vegetables, and eating more highly processed ready meals or take-aways.
“The results found that when you are living alone you have a lower diversity of food intake and a lower consumption of some core food groups like fruits and vegetables and fish,” said Dr. Katherine Hanna, from Queensland University of Technology School in the press release.
Previous research found that when people are living alone it has implications for their nutrition and health outcomes. In a 2013 study, researchers looked at the association between mortality and a pair of conditions, including social isolation, and loneliness in the elderly. The findings revealed limited contact did increase a person’s overall risk of death over time. They were less likely to get help in managing various ailments, and less likely to be encouraged to go see a doctor when health problems would arise.
More at home ,a long term study completed in Trinity College Dublin showed that social isolation was the biggest nutritional factor affecting food intake in Ireland. When people lived on their own they were more likely to skip meals and eat poorly. This then leads to other health issues like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, falls etc. This was particularly evident with men where 2/3 were obese. The longer we can keep a person at home and well, the better it is for them. One potential solution is to get healthy meals delivered to their home.
What are the reasons?
This is explained by inadequate cooking skills, no partner to go shopping with and increased cost of food. A lack of motivation to cook is also evident, that led single people to indulge in “simple or ready-made meals.” Other factors that affected the eating habits of singles, included age, socioeconomic factors, and emotions resulting from being divorced or widowed. This suggests living alone could negatively affect some aspects of food intake and contribute to the relationship between living alone and poor health outcomes. The researchers do warrant further research to help clarify these findings.
This study adds support to the argument that loneliness, for example, can be a significant predictor of poor nutrition — even in the elderly. In a 2011 study, researchers analysed the differences in nutritional status of elderly people living alone compared to those who lived in family surroundings. People who lived alone were at an increased risk of malnutrition, had reduced the number of daily meals, significantly lower their daily intake of protein, fruits and vegetables in the diet, in relation to those who lived in family surroundings.
Loneliness is not just for the older generation. You can be sharing a house with someone ans still be isolated. This is often seen in house share scenarios with college students and young professionals
The Solution is to Get healthy meals delivered!
So, what can you do to motivate yourself to eat healthier?
Hanna suggests several strategies including programs that focus on cooking skills for single people on a range of budgets. Improved availability of affordable healthy food is also important and developing socially acceptable opportunities for eating in communal settings.” We would also suggest you get healthy meals delivered directly to you at home so you are more likely to eat.
Also, you can go out there, get social, and find a roommate — for your health’s sake.
Here at Life Kitchen this is one thing we are passionate about. Eating is a social experience in Ireland because families always ate around the table together. One way to combat this, apart from having healthy meals delivered is to get involved in our dinner clubs. When we get a capacity of people in an area we invite them out to dinner and they get a chance to taste some of our meals and get to know some new people. Our Facebook page is also very active where people interact on a daily basis.
Sources: Hanna KL and Collins PF. Relationship between living alone and food and nutrient intake. Nutrition Reviews. 2015.
Steptoe A, Shankar A, Demakakos P et al. Social isolation, loneliness, and all-cause mortality in older men and women. PNAS. 2013.
Ramic E, Pranjic N, Batic-Mujanovic O et al. The effect of loneliness on malnutrition in elderly population. Med Arh. 2011.