Skip to main content

Military Health System

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...

Two Public Health Command Europe Soldiers Receive Highly Sought-After Expert Medical Field Badge

Article Around MHS
11/30/2022
U.S. Army Sgt. Stephanie Hardin taking the M4 proficiency test

One officer and one enlisted soldier assigned to Public Health Command Europe earned the coveted Expert Field Medical Badge on their first try during a grueling three-week testing event conducted by the 173rd Infantry Brigade at Caserma Del Din.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness

H2F Making a Difference, Tackling the Whole Approach to Care

Article Around MHS
9/15/2022
Military personnel with H2F emblem

Suicide Prevention Month officially kicked off with a suicide survivor panel at the Fort Bragg Soldier and Family Readiness Group Center

Recommended Content:

Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Nutritional Fitness | Suicide Prevention | Spiritual Fitness | Sleep | Mental Health is Health Care

Mental Health Office Helps AUAB Members Maintain Readiness

Article Around MHS
8/30/2022
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Melissa Leonardo smiles for photo

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is comprised of physical, social, spiritual and mental fitness. Being physically fit to fight and maintaining a war fighter spirit are crucial to completing the mission.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Spiritual Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Depression | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Anxiety | Stress | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Mental Health is Health Care

Battalion Hosts Critical Medical Training

Article Around MHS
8/24/2022
Military personnel in combat training exercise

Allied Forces North Battalion conducted a week-long Combat Lifesaver Course July 25-29.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Education & Training | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Global Health Security Agenda

Wellness Fair Showcases Ample Resources at Naval Hospital Bremerton

Article Around MHS
8/2/2022
Military personnel demonstrating a grip therapy

Naval Hospital Bremerton hosted a holistic Wellness Fair in late July 2022.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Nutritional Fitness | Health Readiness Support

Registered Dietitians Take a Run at Performance Nutrition

Article Around MHS
7/22/2022
Military personnel at a run relay

There’s a nourishing parallel between running a 200-mile relay to conducting flight deck operations or being involved in field exercises.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness

August Performance Triad Month

Article Around MHS
7/21/2022
Color graphic depicting aspects of wellness.

As part of its August “P3 for All” campaign, the U.S. Army Public Health Center is encouraging all Army leaders, soldiers, family members and soldiers for life to embrace the synergy of sleep, activity and nutrition, the core components of the Performance Triad, along with the important elements of mental readiness and spiritual readiness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Sleep

Power Plate: Eat to Fuel Your Performance

Article Around MHS
7/19/2022
Infographic for Power Plate

Food is our secret weapon. When planned and executed well food can supply everything our bodies need to thrive, whether we’re running a marathon or taking a rest day.

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Nutritional 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

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 & Combat Support | Total Force Fitness

Healthy Living, One Bite At A Time

Article Around MHS
4/26/2022
Plate of food

One of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle is nutrition and diet. The food you eat is arguably the most important part toward healthy living, also it shapes how you feel and perform.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness

It’s not a new year’s resolution – it’s National Nutrition Month

Article Around MHS
4/8/2022
Military personnel holding papers

The 60th Medical Group Nutritional Medicine outpatient nutrition clinic and Health Promotion Services have partnered together for multiple events across base highlighting March as National Nutrition Month.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness

Fort Knox dietician reveals personal staples for healthy family meals, picky eaters

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Vegetables displayed at a grocery store.

Making sure everyone in the family is eating healthy can sometimes be overwhelming and oftentimes, families aren’t sure where to start.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Regular physical activity is important for health and performance

Article Around MHS
9/29/2021
A Coast Guardsman works out at Coast Guard Air Station Savannah.

Those who get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week have a much lower risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease—the top killers of Americans every year.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: December 13, 2021
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery