Living alone, the freedom and ability to go to bed when you like, choose what you watch on television and last but not least eat whatever you like. Ah bliss! These things can surely only be good for you? Right?
Well, not completely.
A recent literature review undertaken by Queensland University of Technology (QUT), published in the journal of Nutrition Reviews, suggests that people who live alone are at a higher risk of having unhealthy diets and lacking key food groups.
The literature review involved QUT analysing forty-one previous studies highlighting the link between poor food intake and living alone. With the key finding that people who live alone were less likely to consume a diverse range of foods and had lower consumption of some core food sources such as fruit and vegetables as well as fish.
The idea that living alone could mean you are at higher risk of poor nutrition may come as a surprise for some people. But if we take a look at some of the contributing factors, it starts to make sense how this could be possible. The review attributed the poor health outcomes in people living alone to a number of reasons, including lack of motivation, grief and isolation, and socioeconomic factors.
Let’s take a close look at each.
Lack of Motivation
For people who are bereaved or divorced it is thought that they may have relied person upon their spouse to cook and now find a combination of lack of motivation as well as not having the skills may be preventing a nutritious meal.
Grief and Isolation
People living alone may also be grieving for a lost loved one and therefore adding to the lack of motivation as well as reduced appetite. This may lead to the reliance of take-away or pre-packaged meals lacking key nutrients or food groups.
Socioeconomic factors may also play a part in low consumption of fruit, vegetables and fish in a single persons’ diet as these items requiring more frequent purchase and consumption which can be more expensive. More frequent purchasing also requires more frequent visits to shops which may be a challenge for people living alone who have limited mobility or lack of access to transport.
The good news is, living alone doesn’t have to lead to poor nutrition.
Things we can all try implementing for our health
Here are some things to consider for all of us: living alone, busy lifestyles or with a partner. We all could do with some strategies to eat healthier.
1. If you have the cooking skills but lack motivation to do it every night, cook in bulk and freeze in containers for a later day.
2. Find groups through your local council that provide healthy meals in a community setting.
3. Look out for healthy budget meal recipes.
4. Have frozen or canned fruits and vegetables always available to ensure adequate consumption of these items.
5. Look for nutritious ready to eat meals that contain lean meats and lots of vegetables.
6. Many grocery stores and chains are able to deliver groceries – which may provide a solution to those with limited access to transport
I thought I’d share this short film I came across below. It’s about great grandmother Clara who prepare some simple yet delicious meals that she was familiar with from The Great Depression. Clara refers to the cooking as the “poor man’s meal’.
What are some of your favourite meals that you cook? Especially those that are quick, easy and nutritious? Please share with us all.