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Here’s What No One Tells You About Dining Solo

Dinner plate representing feedback.
Feedback is key to the food experience.

Dining solo?

Do you find yourself wolfing down a bag of Doritos as you feverishly write your next blog post or video script? 

If the only association you have with food is picking up your order from the drive-thru window of your favorite fast food place, KEEP READING! This is for you!

From work, to projects, to just chilling out, we all dine alone from time to time.

When we do, sometimes our food choices are based on convenience (“What’s the quickest thing I can grab before my next meeting?”),

and sometimes they are more meaningful (“I made Aunt Mary’s vegetable soup recipe last night, and wow, did that ever taste great!”). 

At work, you can go in either direction. An interesting study by Harvard Associate Professor and researcher Anne Thorndike found that the food purchases we make at work affect our overall health.  A good portion of your life is likely spent at work, so your eating habits at work can naturally reflect your overall attitude and habits toward healthy eating.

At home, dining alone may seem easier, but then there is the question of what to eat. Fast food? Homemade meal? If your tendency is to take the easy way out, you may be a fast food junkie. If you’re ready to take charge of your health, then it’s time to focus on your food experiences. 

Think you can’t have a positive food experience when dining alone? Think again! You can focus on healthy eating regardless of your situation.

Here are 6 things you can do to be more mindful about food when dining solo:

1. Understand your food motivations.

What are your overall health and eating goals? WHY are those your goals (what’s the goal above the goal)? A great quote from Benjamin Hardy, an organizational psychologist, says that,

“When the WHY is strong enough, you will figure out the HOW.”

Starting with what you want and WHY you want it will help you make better food choices. 

2. Determine your food attitude.

Food choices and food attitudes are an individual matter. The process begins by considering your overall food attitudes. 

Do you care about the food choices you make? What type of food choices do you currently make? What is your food experience background? What are your thoughts about your own health, nutrition, and eating habits? 

3. Create a focused food environment.

Are you eating at your desk at work? Are you eating in a park, by a lake or other nature area, or some other fun location? Take a break from work or other activities to focus on the food. Doing so will build your creativity and innovation for your work efforts. You may be inspired with ideas for your next project or activity. 

4. Crank up the music.

guitar and fruit on a table representing using music to create positive food experiences
Photo courtesy of Food Experience Unplugged

Eating doesn’t have to be in silence. Putting on some music conducive to whatever you’re eating (Italian music if you are cooking an Italian meal, etc.) helps you focus on the food better. You also develop a better appreciation for the food (the origins of the dish and/or ingredients, who made it, the nutritional value, etc.).

5. Try a new dish (or put a new twist on an old favorite).

What is your level of cooking skills? Do you routinely just grab something from a local convenience store? With an endless array of in-person and online cooking recipes and techniques, cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. Don’t short-change yourself by thinking you can’t cook for one. Take a moment to assess your cooking skills. Take a cooking class online or in person. You don’t need a crowd of people to do that.

6. Write down your food experiences.

Photo courtesy of Food Experience Unplugged

Write it down! Perhaps you remember baking homemade bread with your aunt when you were a kid.  Does making her bread recipe still trigger the giddy feelings and excitement you felt as your aunt pulled the bread out of the oven and let it cool on the kitchen counter? Write it down! Did you have a particularly interesting meal? Are you eating something that jogs a memory? 

Write down your food experiences in a journal, notebook, or on an electronic device. Doing so helps you understand your eating patterns and feelings about the food experience. Thinking about the memories associated with that meal helps you appreciate the people with whom you interacted and their perspective on the food. 

Even if you are dining alone, you can still focus on the food! As you journal or otherwise ponder your thoughts, plans, and intents about the food, you gain appreciation and knowledge about these experiences.

You can be proactive in creating healthy food, the right environment, and great memories that can transform your food perspective and move you forward toward health and vitality!

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