Let’s be honest, no one really enjoys January. It’s the comedown from Christmas and New Year when the highs of the festive period are quickly brushed aside by the lows of returning to our normal routine. Many of us also seem to have our annual Road to Damascus moment when we plan on kicking anything remotely unhealthy. A large swathe will fall off the health-kick wagon early on, usually due to boredom and lack of social stimulation, however, there are recipes to keep you on track and one of these involves very few ingredients – a kitchen, a dining table, some healthy food and good friends.
Long before Dry January was fashionable and the Fear of Missing Out (FoMO) probably didn’t exist, the Ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus, said, ‘We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink,’ a saying that I believe is particularly applicable at this time of year.
I have nothing against abstaining from alcohol and eating healthily after the excesses of the Christmas period, after all, refraining from that nightly glass of wine for the month has been proven by health experts to have great health benefits. That said you don’t want to be like J D Salinger, the acclaimed novelist who recoiled his fame and withdrew from society. Your mental stimulation is just as important as your physical health so finding a happy balance is imperative.
Step forward the home cooked meal with friends. What better way to wash away the January blues and entertain yourself without the need for a Cosmopolitan than inviting your chums round for a hand-crafted, healthy dinner and a good conversation.
It’s likely that you’ve over indulged in your bank account the previous month and you’re being more conscious of what you’re eating, so instead of venturing to a restaurant where you’ll pay inflated prices for a quinoa and chia seed salad – something that might sound healthier than it is, invite your friends over, source your own ingredients so you know exactly what is going into your meal and enjoy dinner with no surprising bill or time constraints.
Just because you’re eating at home with friends instead of your favourite restaurant, it doesn’t mean it needs to be a lesser dining experience. You are the keeper of your dining table and you can make it as decorated as you want. Why not bring the panache of a high-end restaurant to your own home?
Eating with friends around the dinner table is like an alternative family meal – both have great benefits for those involved. It will help strengthen relationships and establishes connections - crucial to happiness and a sense of belonging, a great way to combat the January blues.
I will leave you with a quote from American novelist, Jonathan Safran Foer, who I feel captures the pleasure and satisfaction you can find when round the dinner table with good friends. ‘Nothing, not a conversation, not a handshake or even a hug, establishes friendship so forcefully as eating together’.