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We all know that eating alfresco is good for you. But did you realise how good?

Eating ‘alfresco’ isn’t just good for the senses; it’s excellent for your mood and your physical and mental health. Furthermore, it promotes relaxation and even helps food to taste delicious.

But how do you get to spend more time outdoors in the British weather?

It’s a conundrum that we all experience, but outdoor dining canopies for schools make it easier to get your students outside comfortably regardless of the weather. These seven reasons for eating outdoors will surely have you pondering on which outdoor dining canopy will help you dine alfresco more often.

What is meant by alfresco dining?

The phrase ‘alfresco‘ has Italian origins, it means ‘in the cool air’. But the Italian meaning differs slightly to the British.

In Italy, the climate is warmer than it is here in the UK. So, when the Italians refer to ‘alfresco’, they are referring to a time in the day when the sun is cooler, and they can enjoy a comfortable, cool temperature outside. But for us, in the UK, we’re familiar with cold air and don’t have a need to wait for the air to cool (unless it’s a scorching day). So, when you ask what is meant by alfresco dining in the UK, it tends to suggest eating outdoors at any time of the day. 

What Are The Main Benefits Of Alfresco Dining?

Most of us don’t need too many reasons to eat outside. It’s one of life’s pleasures that most of us can’t deny. It’s probably safe to suggest that we all know that being outside is good for us. But have you ever wondered how it’s good for us? And what specific benefits alfresco dining brings? 

The reasons to eat outside are vast. You wouldn’t read this article if we laid them all out for you. So, to give you an example here are a few of the main benefits of eating outdoors:

1. Stress Reduction

The sensory experience of eating outdoors brings an instant sense of stress relief that you can’t get any other way. Perhaps it’s because it’s such a natural experience for us. Whatever it is, if you want to help your students de-stress, you should find more opportunities to eat outdoors during the school year.

2. Relaxation

It’s not just the natural experience that invokes relaxation. The sounds, scent and fresh air that come from dining alfresco all add to a relaxing experience. It’s the perfect way to calm your mind and soothe your senses, especially if in the middle of a busy exam period.

3. Improve Your Mood

If you’re de-stressed and relaxed, then your mood is going is also going to improve. Alfresco dining is crucial for a sense of vitality and to revitalise our tired minds, especially when we’re halfway through a busy day of studying and learning at school.

4. Enhanced Concentration

During an alfresco lunch break, students experience the opportunity to rest their minds, especially if they spend more than thirty minutes outdoors. Alfresco dining is the perfect antidote to the three o’clock slump because it enhances concentration.

According to Harvard University, even children with ADHD find it easier to concentrate after spending time outdoors.

5. Higher Immunity

The more time you spend ‘alfresco’, the more your immunity increases because you absorb Vitamin D. A vitamin that is difficult to source in food, so many of us are lacking in it. Vitamin D brings the following benefits:

  • Fights disease
  • Improves immunity
  • Reduces depression
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Enhances circulation

If we spend 15 to 20 minutes in the fresh air, especially in sunlight, we can absorb all the Vitamin D we need and improve our health.

6. Better Tasting Food

Alfresco dining leads to better tasting food. Perhaps it’s the sensory, or social element of outdoor dining that invokes a sense of mindfulness. And it’s this mindfulness that adds to the taste.  

We’re not sure. But what we do know is that there’s a certain something in the air that we may not be able to put our fingers on that makes alfresco food taste delicious.

7. Promotes Good Mental Health

Of course, all roads above are going to lead to good mental health. But it’s not just hearsay. Science backs it up too. This helpful article shows twelve reasons why being outdoors is excellent for a healthy body and mind. Sitting outside to eat can be the first steps toward rebuilding your strength, mentally and physically if you’re unwell, or experiencing a dip in your mental health.

What Are The Challenges With Alfresco Dining In The UK?

The problem is the weather. To reap the benefits of alfresco dining, you need to eat outside frequently. And, well, with British weather that’s easier said than done.

Pleasant days are rare, so, if we’re going to find more reasons to eat outside, we need some sort of shelter to protect us from the elements.

How To Enjoy Eating Alfresco In All Weathers

The best way to enjoy eating alfresco regardless of the weather is by installing outdoor dining canopies. If this is an idea, you haven’t considered before you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the options available to you. 

Outdoor dining shelter options can include:

  • Parasols
  • Shade sails
  • Tepee structures
  • Steel or aluminium and polycarbonate dining shelters

Each of these outdoor dining canopy options ranges in the amount of shelter from the elements they provide, and the number of people you can cater for. For example:

Tepee structures and the steel and polycarbonate dining shelters are perfect for outdoor dining in all weathers and for large numbers of students in secondary schools and colleges.

Some of the tepee and steel and polycarbonate dining shelters can also have flexible side infills.   Adding these infills turns your shelter into a closed space, like a room. A room that you can add light and heat to – for maximum comfort regardless of the weather.

If you want to optimise the health and mental wellbeing of your students, you should encourage alfresco dining. But to do so, you’re going to need some form of shelter to maximise the chances of being able to eat outside comfortably.