When the weather starts to get warmer, and the days get longer, we naturally seem to spend more of our time outside.
For some reason though I still tend to head back inside when it comes to meal times. I think that might change though, thanks to a set of garden furniture that our neighbours passed on to us. Literally, passed over the garden fence to us!
If you’re naturally more of an indoorsy type person, here are 3 reasons why you should try and eat outside as a family more often that might convince you to mix things up a bit.
1. You’ll all be less stressed and feel happier
All sorts of studies have been carried out that have shown that spending time outside is a great way to reduce stress.
Irina Wen, from the NYU Langone Medical Center, says,
“Nature can be beneficial for mental health. It reduces cognitive fatigue and stress and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.”
So sitting out in your back garden while you have your morning toast and coffee, or heading to the park for a family picnic for tea can help the whole family feel less stressed and anxious.
And as far as feeling happier goes, it’s the things you can smell while outside that can make a difference.
If you have your lunch together in the garden while your washing gently swings in the breeze you may well get a happiness boost. This is down to the fact that these kinds of smells of home are tied to our emotions and bring back happy memories.
You could also try working up an appetite by mowing the lawn before enjoying a family meal in the garden. Studies have shown that the smell of freshly cut grass can also make us feel calmer and happier!
2. It’ll give you all a health boost
An extra benefit of the stress-reducing powers of eating outside is that your immune system will get a boost.
Stress is known to suppress our immune systems and make us more susceptible to illness, so spending more time outside and feeling calmer as a result can help keep the whole family healthier.
If the sun is shining when you’re eating outside, then you’ll get even more heath benefits.
You’ll get a vitamin D boost, as long as you’re not covered up by long-sleeved tops or suncream. This Vitamin D will then help your immune system function normally, as well as help your children’s bones and teeth develop properly.
Getting out in natural light is also great for promoting better sleep, which is something most families would welcome!
If you can sit out in the sun to eat your breakfast together then you’ll help to reset everyone’s body clocks and potentially make falling asleep easier that night.
And once the children do get to sleep you can head back outside to enjoy a quiet drink or two!
Sitting outside and chatting with your partner is a great way to reconnect after a long day, and if you pick the right lighting to have on once the sun disappears you can create a really lovely atmosphere together. You can find some great deals on outdoor lighting on Groupon, so you don’t have to spend a fortune to create a lovely space outside to enjoy in the evenings.
3. The food will taste better and your children might try (and like) new foods
Have you ever noticed that food just tastes better when you eat it outside?
There are a few possible reasons for why this might be.
It might be partly down to the noise levels, and the type of noise, outside. It’s been found that eating in places with high noise levels actually reduces out ability to gauge how sweet or salty our food is. Something about the noise messes with our taste buds.
So eating outside, with the right amount of nature sounds may well help us to really taste, and enjoy, our food.
And if you’re struggling to get your children to eat more healthy foods then taking them outside for their meals might help.
Studies have shown that when we’re stressed it can change the way food tastes to us. One study in particular, by Ness & Edelheit, found that stressing people out made them rate something as bitter and less sweet than a substance they were given at the start of the test, when they were relaxed, even though it was exactly the same substance.
So, relating this to our children, it may well be the case that eating outside will help them feel calmer and more relaxed, and so food will taste much nicer to them.
And the fun factor of eating outside, away from the pressure of ‘sitting nicely’ at the dining room table might make them more inclined to try new things.
How often do you eat outside as a family? Is it something you want to do more of this summer?
Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post