COVID-19 is influencing trends in dining. Over a year into the pandemic, consumers have developed new habits. Meanwhile, businesses have to come up with new ways to entice customers and continue selling their products and services despite lockdowns and social distancing rules.
In 2020, al fresco dining has, again, risen in popularity. It is not a trend, but a regular way to eat food in many places across Europe. However, in the United States, outdoor dining is less popular.
But, when it became clear that the virus spread through the air, enclosed spaces became potential hotspots for infection. Restaurants were especially dangerous because people had to remove their face covering to eat and drink.
The safest way to dine is by doing it outdoors.
Fresh Air All Around
Perhaps, the best thing about eating outdoors is breathing in the fresh air. You may not realize it, but indoor air is actually very polluted. Different everyday activities that people do, including cooking, is generating pollutants that people will inhale.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claims that the concentration of air pollutants indoors is up to 5 times higher than concentration outdoors. Exposure to indoor air pollutants can cause respiratory and cardiovascular disease, especially to very young children and older adults.
Eating outdoors is a good way to allow the body to breathe fresh air. The benefits are even if the environment is surrounded by lush vegetation. Being around nature has scientifically been proven to improve overall health. Trees, in particular, emit phytoncide which, when inhaled, has the ability to boost immune function. Pines, oaks, and others emit these compounds to their surroundings.
When the Sun is Shining
The average American spends 90 percent of their life indoors. That is part of the reason why almost half of the population is vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D is the only nutrient that your body produces through sun exposure. It is essential to build strong bones and teeth as well as respiratory health.
Moreover, being outside under the sun can actually make you happier. Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin, a hormone associated with better mood. It calms you down and increases your focus. In contrast, the lack of sun exposure is linked with anxiety and depression.
A Bonding Experience
Eating outdoors is an event that can bring people close together. Children, in particular, benefit from having their meals alongside their parents. It aids in their development because it creates an opportunity for them to talk. In fact, in previous studies, children who ate meals together regularly were less likely to have eating disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, depression, and suicidal ideation.
Moreover, children who ate with their parents were overall healthier. They consumed more fruits and vegetables. They also had less sugary and fatty foods.
Creating a Space for Outdoor Dining
The benefits of eating outdoors are clear, but how does one convince family and friends to dine under the sun?
Nowadays, many restaurants have created an outdoor dining area to provide a way for customers to enjoy food and drinks without the risk of catching COVID-19 and other infections. It is easier, therefore, to find a table outdoors where you and your loved ones can have a meal together.
However, you can also make eating outdoors a habit by creating a space where you and your family can sit together regularly.
If you have a deck, you can use it as an extension of your dining room by adding a table and a few chairs. You should also consider installing a retractable awning for summer days when the sun is too intense.
You can also build a storage shed and an outdoor dining area. There is already a roof, protecting you from the glare of the sun. After all, while sun exposure is healthy, it can also increase a person’s risk of developing skin cancer long-term. You can turn the utilitarian-looking space into a homey dining room by painting the interiors and adding decor. Do not worry about having to get waterproof furniture. It is still an enclosed room which means that everything inside will be protected from environmental elements.
You can also just add tables and chairs underneath the canopy of a big tree. It still will provide you shade from the sun while you dine outdoors.
Eating outdoors is a great activity. It aids in health and nutrition, improves mood and mental health, and builds stronger relationships between people. Moreover, having a space at home where you can eat together outdoors makes encourages you to make it a regular habit.