I’m a big believer that what you eat and how you feel are intrinsically linked. But often there’s another element to sharing a meal that makes you feel good – company. There’s something about sharing good food together that is not only relaxing and nourishing but intimate, helping to foster a sense of closeness and a bond created through a shared experience. But, as with pretty much everything right now, what happens when couples are separated, restaurants are closed, and morale and motivation are at an all-time-low?
Something my girlfriend and I have found helps both allow us to spend quality time together and give us both the boost we need after a long (and in these times, emotionally draining) week is eating dinner together via zoom. It seems simple, but putting the effort in really helps to bring both a sense of normality and a bit of excitement to your week. We make sure to wear something nice, put on some makeup and treat ourselves to a glass of wine – as we would for those long forgotten dates in restaurants! I even play some jazz and light candles for myself for the added sensory experience.
This week was especially tiring for me and come Friday I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and burnt out. Whilst I was taking the time to mindfully get ready for my date by having a relaxing bath, I realised I hadn’t taken any time to just breathe for almost a whole week. Sometimes I find my productivity surges when working from home due to lack of distractions, commuting, noise, socialising – the general chaos of day-to-day life has faded into the background. But a surge in productivity, like any sense of unbalance in life, does not come without a cost. For me, that cost is that the lines between work and leisure become blurred; with not much else to do in the evening, I find myself doing another bit of an essay instead of unwinding in conversation. With no walk to the library to make, I decide there’s no point getting dressed. With no one to share breakfast ideas with, I find myself having little more than a biscuit and a cup of tea. Come Friday I wake up exhausted and unmotivated, not understanding why – until I realise I’ve spent nearly a week in pyjamas, alone most of the time, and have done little else but work. The work-from-home working week is precarious and can all-too-quickly become depressing, unless we make the active effort to do nice things for ourselves and others, no matter how small.
The night before date night, my (lovely and very thoughtful) girlfriend sent me some pasta via post from one of our favourite companies, Pasta Evangelists. As much as I love cooking an extravagant meal from scratch, the times we’re living in undoubtedly take their toll and so, we decide to treat ourselves to a bit of an indulgence that wasn’t another Chinese takeaway. We ate our pasta over Zoom together and enjoyed every second. After the call ended a few hours later, I still felt a wave of post-call loneliness coming to the realisation she wasn’t actually there physically – but I felt so much lighter, happier, and connected. I fell asleep relaxed and with a smile on my face for the first time that week.
Making the effort to get dressed up and treat yourself to some good food isn’t something we always feel like doing when we’re exhausted, but it’s something I believe we should make the effort to do more often. After living for a year with some form of lockdown restrictions, it’s easy to settle into the rhythm of doing the same thing, eating the same thing, and enjoying the worn-in comfort of wearing the same pyjamas – but in order to stay motivated and inspired, we need variety.
So I encourage all of you to schedule a dinner date this week, and do it properly – it doesn’t need to be expensive, but making the effort to fully show up will undoubtedly give you a boost and help you say f**k you to the notorious lockdown lethargy. Even better, it will not only make you feel happy, but allows you to share that happiness with someone you love. So make the effort to share the same meal together with your girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, mum, dad, auntie, whoever it is that makes you feel good – buy the same ingredients from the shop and send them one of your favourite recipes. Cooking and eating together is a type of love language, and there’s no reason why that can’t continue to flourish even when you can’t be physically together.
Check out @spaghettiandspice on Instagram for more food related stories, recipes and inspiration.
Image credit: Davide Cantelli via Unsplash