Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

When we “Break Bread," we build social bonds

Image of Picture of military personnel sitting at a table eating food together. Marines with 1st Marine Division eat a warrior's breakfast at the awards ceremony for Supersquad 2020, on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton last summer (Photo by: Marine Gunnery Sgt. Chad Pulliam).

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Throughout history, people have bartered, decided the fates of nations, and built friendships all over meals. Within traditional military units there are key social times when meals have historically been shared: hails and farewells, promotions, and celebrating historical dates. Often these are labeled as "mandatory fun", but perhaps they play a bigger role. The sharing of meals has been shown to improve feelings of closeness, increase satisfaction with life, enhance team performance, and influence food choices.

Within the Total Force Fitness (TFF) framework, the 'Social Fitness' domain includes the ability to engage in healthy social networks and promotes overall well-being and for optimal unit performance. The global pandemic has forced physical distancing, closed indoor seating, minimized group size, and discouraged shared meals.

This, in turn, is discouraging the use of social meals in fostering social fitness. Countering any negative effects on social fitness, team cohesion, life satisfaction, and overall health among military members should be an important consideration.

A team is only as strong as its weakest link, and developing opportunities for social networking can promote team cohesion.

Unfortunately, per the Department of Defense Annual Suicide Report, suicide rates among military members was at an all-time high in 2019, with nearly 26 per 100,000 service members committing suicide. Concerns have already been voiced that the stress of the COVID-19 might drive these numbers even higher in 2020 and 2021.

Eating socially has been shown to influence happiness and life satisfaction; specifically participating in evening meals with more people, more laughter, reminiscing and alcohol consumption resulted in individuals feeling closer to those with whom they ate. It therefore makes sense for military leaders to find ways to promote social networking and team cohesion during a pandemic and adding a food element could help support those opportunities.

Social scientists have suggested that the phrase "you are what you eat" should be replaced with "you are what the people in your social circle eat". Eating habits and food choices seem to be influenced by the social circle that people belong to, so much so that "prior eating habits of friends have been shown to predict current eating patterns".

Perhaps, now is a time to capitalize on influencing food choices by creating virtual shared food experiences that can promote healthy eating habits and develop social connectedness.

Ways to Promote Social Connectedness and Fitness over Food during a Pandemic

  • Virtual happy hour - Pick a non-work topic and afford your team an opportunity for everyone to unwind with a beverage or snack of their choice and share in quality conversation.
  • Virtual networking event - Set up the event to include members of your team based on an interest or a team topic.
  • Virtual cooking classes - The class could include a specific recipe, with a list of ingredients for each person to pick up ahead of time, so that each participant cooks the recipe and the group eats the final product together. This would promote cooking skills while combining the opportunity for social conversation. Reach out to your local Military Treatment Facility to see if their nutrition professionals would be willing to provide a class, recipes, or both.
  • Virtual dinner party - Develop a menu, incorporating fresh foods. Send out the shopping list in advance with the recipe. Advise all participants to have their food plated and be seated in front of their electronic device at the start of the dinner party. The menu can be as elaborate or as simple as you'd like. Reach out to your local Military Treatment Facility to see if their nutrition professionals would be willing to provide recipes or suggestions for your menu.

Get creative, build your team, and incorporate healthy options to promote health and social connectedness.

To learn more, or get support - reach out to your military medical treatment facility nutrition professionals for assistance incorporating healthy options or seek out additional online resources by accessing the Human Performance Resources by the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP).

You also may be interested in...

6 Essential Nutrients

Video
6/22/2022
6 Essential Nutrients

Are you getting the right nutrients from your diet? Check out this overview of the six essential nutrients to optimize your performance and fitness from Human Performance Resources by CHAMP at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. #PerformanceNutrition #FueltoFight #USU #HPRC

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Nutritional Fitness

What should I eat after a workout?

Video
6/22/2022
What should I eat after a workout?

Ever wonder how to fuel up post-workout to maximize recovery and support your fitness? Check out these tips from the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP, part of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences to enhance your performance! #PerformanceNutrition #FueltoFight #USU #HPRC”

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Nutritional Fitness | Physical Fitness

Considering supplements? Stay Informed

Video
6/22/2022
Considering supplements? Stay Informed

Stay informed when considering supplements to help you reach your performance and fitness goals with this video from Operation Supplement Safety, the #DOD dietary supplement resource at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. #PerformanceNutrition #FueltoFight #OPSS #USU

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Nutritional Fitness

Tactical Diaper Bags and Other Fathers' Day Tips from a Marine Officer

Article
6/16/2022
Tactical Diaper Bags and Other Fathers' Day Tips from a Marine Officer

“When we deploy, our lives become simpler, while theirs become more complex: In addition to missing their husband and father, they are missing someone who should be helping to shoulder the burden that military life places on kids.”

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

Tactical Diaper Bags and Other Fathers' Day Tips from a Marine Officer

Photo
6/16/2022
Tactical Diaper Bags and Other Fathers' Day Tips from a Marine Officer

An experienced military dad offers advice to new service members beginning their parenting journey.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

Air Force Medical Service Launches 'Nutrition Kitchen' Program

Article Around MHS
6/8/2022
graphic for Nutrition Kitchen program

The Air Force Medical Service is launching “Nutrition Kitchen”, a series of online nutritional cooking classes geared toward service members and their families.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness

Tips for Military Parents Planning PCS Moves with Children

Article
6/2/2022
Moving can be hard on military families, especially on children. Moving to a new home, going to a new school, finding new friends – it can be unsettling for kids of any age. Yet there are things that service members can do to prepare for a permanent change of station move that can make for a smoother transition for the children.

Moving can be hard on military families, especially on children. Moving to a new home, going to a new school, finding new friends – it can be unsettling for kids of any age. Yet, there are things that service members can do to prepare for a permanent change of station move that can make for a smoother transition for the children.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness

Could a Therapy Dog Help with Your Dental Anxiety?

Article
6/2/2022
Air Force Brig. Gen. Goldie, a facility therapy dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, helps reduce anxiety in a patient with complex dental conditions that require multiple appointments. The use of therapy dogs is part of an ongoing study with these patients.

A first-of-its-kind study at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is researching whether using facility therapy dogs in dentists’ offices could reduce patient anxiety and improve outcomes for military dental treatment programs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness

PTSD Awareness Month - Treatment Works

Infographic
6/1/2022
PTSD Awareness Month - Treatment Works

Experiencing #PTSD can make one feel hopeless. Fortunately, there are strategies and treatments that WORK to relieve PTSD symptoms. Don’t wait, seek help today. #PTSDAwarenessMonth www.health.mil/ptsd

Recommended Content:

June | Total Force Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD Awareness Month - PTSD Awareness

Infographic
6/1/2022
PTSD Awareness Month - PTSD Awareness

Unfortunately, experiencing trauma is not uncommon. If you’ve experienced trauma and notice symptoms of #PTSD, don’t hesitate to ask your primary care provider about possible treatment. #TreatmentWorks #PTSDAwarenessMonth www.health.mil/ptsd

Recommended Content:

June | Total Force Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Air Force Surgeon General eyes modernizing capabilities for joint commanders (Part 2)

Article Around MHS
5/27/2022
Military medical personnel at Patrick AFB

Since assuming his role of Air Force Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Robert Miller has worked to advance the Air Force Medical Service’s capabilities, ensuring it is ready for an evolving joint fight.

Recommended Content:

Medical Logistics | Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute | Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness

Walter Reed Service Dogs

Photo
5/27/2022
Walter Reed Service Dogs

Luke, a German Shepherd facility dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, stays with wounded warrior Heath Calhoun at the Military Advanced Treatment Center facility while Calhoun undergoes rehab therapy. Luke is officially a Navy Hospital Corpsman Third Class.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

How Health Care Providers Can Mitigate Burnout

Article
5/25/2022
U.S. Army Soldiers load a simulated patient on to a New Jersey National Guard UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter during a combat lifesaver course run by the Medical Simulation Training Center on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, April 14, 2022.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

“No one is immune to burnout. Healthcare providers are very good at rescuing others. We train for it and practice it daily. Unfortunately, we often do so at the expense of our own health and wellness.”

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

Ask the Doc: Yes, I Binge Drink. But am I an Alcoholic?

Article
5/25/2022
Ian Bell, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron True North social worker, tries on vision impairment goggles at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Dec. 20, 2021. The vision impairment goggles represented a range of different blood alcohol concentrations, from less than 0.06 BAC, which simulates how reaction time and abilities are affected after just one drink, to 0.25, a very high level of impairment caused by binge drinking.

Dear Doc: I kick back on the weekends and down a six-pack or two at a time. I know this is called binge drinking, but I don’t think I’m an alcoholic. Should I be worried?

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Ask The Doc

Holiday Food Safety Tip: Cook Food Thoroughly

Infographic
5/25/2022
Holiday Food Safety Tip: Cook Food Thoroughly

Use a thermometer to ensure your food is cooked to the right minimum internal temperature.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 8
Refine your search
Last Updated: December 13, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.