Would you believe cooking for one can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure or high cholesterol? Yes, eating alone is bad for you, particularly if you’re a man.
Men increase their risk of developing obesity by nearly half.
This, however, doesn’t apply to women whose risk stays pretty much the same whether they eat alone or with other people.
The problem is, the number of people living alone is rising all over the world – in the UK it’s approaching a third of households – and researchers believe feeling lonely can lead to unhealthy choices when eating.
Among the reasons for more solo living are people waiting longer to settle down or get married, and a rise in the number of divorces and relationship breakdowns.
Researchers from Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, studied 7,725 adults.
They found men who ate alone had a 45% increased risk of being obese and were 64% more likely to develop a metabolic syndrome such as type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
And men are more vulnerable to the effects of a single life because social isolation can lead to health risks and a higher mortality rate.
This is reflected in male mortality rates and their poorer health.
An earlier study by researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah, US, determined that loneliness can raise your risk of death by 45%.
Women in the study were 29% more likely to develop a metabolic syndrome such as diabetes if they ate alone twice or more times each day.
People are more likely to feel lonely and socially isolated if they live alone as opposed to living with others. Previous studies have found loneliness can increase the chances of someone eating more unhealthy foods.
It seems to go like this: living alone means eating alone and that leads to eating a poor diet. If someone feels socially isolated, they tend to turn to junk food rather than healthy food such as fruits and vegetables, which increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or prediabetes.
And if they are cooking just for themselves, they are more likely to cut corners because there is no one to keep happy, or chastise them for making poor health choices.
Once health starts to dip, the problem escalates.
5 ways to curb your snacking
1 Try eating fruits such as oranges or pomegranates that take a while to peel, or nuts, like pistachios, that you need to shell. If you eat as you peel your fruit, or crack your nuts, you’re giving your body more time to feel full so you end up eating less.
2 Don’t watch TV, listen to music, or talk on the phone while you’re eating. By focusing on what you’re eating you’ll end up eating less and enjoying your snack a lot more.
3 Try to limit yourself. Don’t sit down with an entire packet of crisps, you’re likely to end up eating them all. Select a reasonable portion then put the packet back in the cupboard.
4 If you don’t have self control don’t keep snacks in the house. You can’t eat what’s not there!
5 How about brushing your teeth? Who wants to eat another sweet with the taste of mint in their mouth?