The prospect of purposefully eating alone in public might seem daunting to some, but an increasing number of Americans are reserving tables for one.
According to a recent analysis by OpenTable, single table reservations have gone up 62 percent in the last two years. Maybe it's the plethora of must-Instagram food available in every city around the country, maybe its a craving for some alone time in this hyperconnected age, or maybe it's a little bit of both. Whatever it is, the practice is worth toasting. (Alone.)
Vice's Nell Frizell has gone so far as to argue that eating alone makes you a better human:
[...] to concentrate on what you’re consuming, to be able to take in your eating environment alone, is one of the cornerstones of self-sufficiency. You are free from bullshit food shame, from other people’s boring diet restrictions, from small talk, from having to meet someone so late you’ve eaten the napkins before the starters arrive and, most importantly, from compromise. You are an island.
Yes, dining solo can be a great pleasure, and it can be good for you, too. Below, we've rounded up five reasons to eat alone:
1. You'll get to experience some solitude.
Alone doesn't mean lonely, and going solo has some major benefits. Spending time with number one (that's you, friend) can boost your creativity and make you like yourself more. Plus, a table for one means you don't have to fake-offer the last fry to anyone. It's all yours.
2. No small talk necessary.
Small talk is inevitable when meeting up with a friend for a meal. How was your day, what's up with your cat, blah, blah, blah. It's a ritual that is even more exhausting after a long day of feigning interest in other people's affairs at work. A break from surface-level chitchat will give your brain a chance to contemplate other issues worth talking about. And it's the substantive talk that makes people happier in the long run.
3. Your brain will have a moment to unwind and focus on Just. One. Thing.
We are a multi-tasking race, to a fault. Much research confers that multi-tasking isn't possible, that when we try to do two things at once we're actually just slowing down the process of completing either of the two tasks. Eating alone allows you to focus on the deliciousness of your meal and savor it -- no need to prevent awkward silences in between messy, mindless bites of kale salad.
4. You can turn that savoring into a meditation.
The exception to the no multi-tasking rule above is meditating while dining out alone. Give yourself the gift of fully tasting the flavors you're paying for. You can meditate with any kind of food (check out this coffee meditation for the play-by-play) by focusing on the taste of the dish, the sound of your chewing and the smell steaming off your plate. You'll be better for it.
5. You'll make healthier choices.
You won't have to worry about being a Negative Nancy when someone suggests dessert and you're either not hungry for it or don't feel like paying for a spoonful of creme brûlée. Your dinner = your rules. Better yet, studies show that people mimic the eating patterns of their dining companions, meaning if they eat more (or less), so will you. Eating alone means eating at your own pace and claiming fullness when you feel it.
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