Whether it’s for a few years in college, to save money by choosing a shared housing option, or just as a lifestyle choice, many of us will live with a roommate at some stage. Occasionally, there can be friction. Who hasn’t had an argument about whose turn it is to take out the trash, or who should be the one to clear up after dinner? However, living with another person also comes with many benefits.
You know that there’s always someone else around, which can help you feel safer and more secure. There’s always someone to talk to, so you need never be lonely. Beyond these obvious advantages are some less readily apparent benefits. For instance, did you know that living with someone else means that your diet is likely to be better than if you lived alone?
Why Living With Someone Else Will Improve Your Diet
We’ve all seen stereotypes in the media that depict roommates chilling out together over pizza, beer, and other kinds of junk food. However, scientific research paints a rather different picture of the effect a roommate can have on your diet. It seems that we are actually more likely to eat healthier foods and stick to healthier eating patterns when living with others.
To examine the effect of living alone on diet, Australian university researchers looked at 41 scientific studies on the subject. They found that people living alone tended to eat lower quantities of fresh food including fruits and vegetables, which can have a significant negative impact on long-term health. Everyone needs the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that these foods provide, so this is concerning for those who do not live with a partner, relatives, or roommates.
Interestingly, the authors of the study found that this trend could be seen across various demographic groups. Whether rich or poor, those who lived with others generally benefited from a more varied diet compared to those in single-occupancy homes. When the results were broken down by gender, men have more to be worried about compared with women. Males tend to consume an even worse diet when they live by themselves.
What could explain these findings? The researchers believe that the social and cultural roles played by cooking, food preparation, and eating may be important considerations. For example, those who live with friends or a partner typically have someone else to go shopping with, and this may mean that they are likely to go out and buy higher-quality fresh food on a regular basis.
Cooking skills may be another factor. If a person living alone finds they do not have the knowledge required to prepare a particular dish or cook a certain food, they may fall back on ready-made, less healthy food. However, if they lived with at least one other person, they may be able to ask for help.
The power of routine is another relevant consideration. A person living alone can eat whatever they want at any time of the day or night without attracting comment or criticism. Whilst this may be very liberating, it can actually be helpful from a health point of view to have someone around who questions your decision to eat frozen pizza at 3am for the third night in a row. In other words, roommates can draw your attention to unhealthy or abnormal routines. Humans are social creatures after all, and most of us crave the approval of others.
So, if you have a roommate, be thankful for the positive effect they could be having on your diet. If you currently live alone and find yourself fighting a losing battle against poor eating habits, why not consider sharing a home with someone else? You could encourage one another on to greater health and well-being.
Featured photo credit: Robert Judge via flickr.com