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Solo Eating

  • Eating

Dining alone—at home or in a restaurant—often triggers unwanted eating, but it need not be problematic if you can identify what’s bothering you and come up with effective solutions. Change your attitude and you may even learn to enjoy eating solo.

If you’re uncomfortable eating alone, acknowledge this fact. Maybe you believe you should feel okay and therefore, try to deny your discomfort. Think about it: How do you feel about eating by yourself at home or in a restaurant? If you’re used to keeping busy, eating solo can be a jarring experience because you’re all alone with your thoughts—and your food. Although eating is often a social experience, in the end it’s an isolated me-with-me occasion because the socializing actually has nothing to do with the food (unless someone is feeding you!). First off, then, stop thinking that eating should be a social experience, because this is not necessarily true.

If you believe that something is wrong with you that causes you to eat alone—that is, no one loves you enough to be eating with you—you’re bound to feel lonely and perhaps disappointed and frustrated. If so, tackle that irrational belief and any others that limit your enjoyment of the experience. Remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with you. If you have intense bouts of unhappiness while eating, stop eating and deal with them. Distress is a poor dining companion and may trigger you to pay more attention to unsettling feelings than to the food on your plate. When you feel better, resume eating.

If you’re someone who uses busy-ness and social interaction to keep emotions at bay, you’ll likely have difficulty eating by yourself because you’re alone with your thoughts and feelings. In that case, it’s time to learn how to be by yourself when you’re not engaged in other activities or with other people. Be careful what you tell yourself about your aloneness, stick with positive and comforting thoughts, and pay attention to your surroundings and your senses. Focus on your body and shut off your mind. To advise you to think cheerful thoughts sounds a bit trite, but, yes, by all means, do so.

Here are some positive views of eating alone for you to try on: Good, my partner’s away so I can try that new recipe I’ve been wanting to make—in peace—and enjoy it at my leisure. Great, I have time to unwind and don’t have to take care of anyone but me. What an excellent time to check in with myself about my eating without annoying distractions. When I’m done eating, I can’t wait to…fill in the blank. What you make of eating alone will mean the difference between a pleasant and unpleasant experience.