It’s no secret that eating good, nutritious food helps maintain our physical health. But a healthy diet doesn’t just help us feel better physically; it can benefit our mental health and emotional well-being as well.
Simply stated: What greater joy is there than to gather around a table full of good friends, family, and food?
Willow Valley Communities’ Manager of Nutrition and Culinary Services, Stephanie Sodak, says that there are psychological, social, and biological benefits of eating meals with other people. “It gives us a sense of regularity in our lives, a chance to reflect on the day and feel connected. Also, sitting at a table, talking and listening, slows us down, helps with digestion, and helps us to not overeat.”
Stephanie also believes that a meal shared with loved ones can be made even better by choosing a well-balanced diet full of vegetables and nutrients. Research shows a link between what we eat and how we feel — and not just physically. “Our diet can affect our brain,” she says. “Some foods can actually help us feel better.” She recommends a Mediterranean-style diet that includes a lot of vegetables, seafood, fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, and whole grains, which can reduce the symptoms of depression. “This can improve your sense of well-being and your mood.”
Willow Valley Communities offers 12 different culinary venues to satisfy every palate, from casual coffee shops and wine bars to full-service gourmet restaurants. Stephanie works with all of the chefs of Willow Valley Communities as they plan their menus, assessing them for overall nutritional balance — and, of course, taste.
Stephanie is passionate about helping Willow Valley Communities Residents learn about how what they eat affects their sense of well-being, both physically and psychologically. “Food can have a significant impact on our quality of life and can help us to maintain good health, both physically and emotionally. As a registered dietitian, I think it is very important to make informed decisions about what we eat.”