In this new Covid world of 2021, where life is a little different, making time for connection and friendship has taken on an even greater meaning. In fact, research now shows that one essential ingredient for living a long and healthy life is our connection with others. Friendship is a vital ingredient in longevity and verve. As humans, we are wired for social contact and using food to help us connect after periods of isolation is often overlooked.

When we are around others, it has an effect on our body. Spending time with friends, connecting, catching up – stimulates our parasympathetic system (otherwise known as the ‘rest and digest’ system). This system is stimulated through verbal and voice tone of relations with each other, and it’s not stimulated when we text one another. Nature has designed us to eat together, to share our meals, to spend time together.

Food connects, evokes, reminds, triggers, comforts and a whole lot more.

For many of us, food is one of the most powerful connective tools we have. Either through, culture, religion or family traditions our bonds with family and friends have been created, strengthened and continued through the power of food. Food connects, evokes, reminds, triggers, comforts and a whole lot more. Food is never meaningless. Food is so much more than carbs, fats and calories.

Think about your favourite food, the food you dislike the most. What feelings does it evoke? What memory is attached to that food? What experiences and meanings come to mind as you think of that food? Food is so much more than food. It elicits all our senses and more. The smell of hot chips, tomato sauce and vinegar takes me back to my annual December family vacation – long car trips to the seaside. All of us bunched up on the back seat – minus our seatbelts, eating the chips, competing to see who can see the sea first! Hot chips, loads of sauce, mess everywhere, excitement, fun, happy times.

The liking (or loathing) of a certain dish is shaped by our early experiences and the world around us, and our feelings and experiences help us build our connections with others. Food evokes memories and associations that are powerful. Friendships add to these experiences, memories and connections.