As someone who travels a lot by herself, I’ve had to get comfortable with eating alone. Having a meal or drink on your own is something that should be enjoyed, not endured, so for this post, I want to talk about eating alone and how you can enjoy it.
You may be traveling for business, having a day out in your home town, traveling for fun, or simply enjoying time on your own. You might be having breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Regardless of your situation, it helps to feel comfortable and relaxed if you go out for a meal on your own.
If you want to enjoy dining alone, first up you need to get yourself in the right headspace.
Here are some tips that can help.
This isn’t about other people calling you names – it’s about you doing it to yourself.
Eating alone (and come to think of it being alone) can come with some negative connotations.
You need to let go of any negative beliefs you have floating around in your head regarding being on your own.
I remember seeing one of my friends post a comment on Facebook about how she would like to just walk into a bar and grab a nice glass of wine when she travels for business but doesn’t do it because she feels people will think she is a loser sitting by herself.
To get yourself in the right mindset, you need to ditch the word loser (and any words that mean even remotely the same thing).
Stop thinking you don’t have the courage
Years ago I remember going to an interstate work conference.
For breakfast, I simply walked into the breakfast room and started eating the lovely breakfast on offer. It didn’t take long before I was joined by some of the girls in my group.
I was taken back when one of the girls made a comment about not having the courage to go to the breakfast room by herself. She’d rang the other girl’s rooms to make sure they went together as she felt she couldn’t walk into the room by herself.
Another friend who traveled a lot for work spent most of her time holed up in her hotel room. While I am sure she was sometimes tired after a busy day, a big part of the reason she didn’t leave her room was that she didn’t have the confidence to dine alone.
You have the courage, stop telling yourself otherwise. Walk into that cafe, restaurant or bar with your head held high.
Related content –
- 20 Ways to Be More Courageous in Life
- How to Have a Big Life When Your Life Feels Small
- How to Lighten Up – 25 Tips for More Fun Play and Relaxation
Stop telling yourself ‘I could never do that’
This one is quite similar to the point above but I thought it was worth its own mention because it’s one of the things people say to me a lot when I tell them I went overseas by myself.
‘I could never do that.’
The truth is probably closer to ‘I don’t want to do that’ and that’s okay.
It’s just not a good idea to keep telling yourself what you can’t do. It forms a self-limiting belief and before you know it, you’re believing your own story and those stories hold you back in life.
Related post – Do You Have a Self-Limiting Belief You Are Not Aware of?
Get over the sitting by yourself thing
If you are just starting to venture out by yourself, there are plenty of ways you can avoid sitting at a table by yourself.
For starters, look for restaurants where they have stools at the counter for solo diners.
The other seating arrangement I quite enjoy is the communal tables where the seating is long benches and everyone sits together. Usually, when you are by yourself, you get the end seat which is the best spot because you don’t have to worry about pushing past anyone to get out.
If you are starting out, look for the two people tables instead of a table for four. When you first start eating alone you might feel less conspicuous at a smaller table.
Get over thinking everyone else has someone to talk to
As someone who has dined by themselves a lot, I can tell you a lot of the couples enjoying their meals together, do NOT talk much (or at all) to each other over dinner.
Of course, there could be a lot of valid reasons for this and I’m certainly not passing judgment. All I’m saying is don’t compare yourself to the people at the other tables.
Stop worrying about what other people think
This one is huge.
Honestly, this one has the power to change your whole life not just your dining experiences!
Worrying about what other people think can hold you back from doing what you really want.
The sooner you stop caring what everyone else is thinking of you the better off your life will be.
When we worry about what other people think of our self-doubt and criticism kicks in. We start imagining people are thinking about us when they are not.
Related post – 20 Ways to Stop Caring What People Think of You
Stop thinking people will stare at you
I won’t lie and tell you I have never had another stare at me in a restaurant.
I remember being in Italy many years ago and I was having dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant in Sorrento. The table near me was filled with older Italian gentlemen and they looked over and stared at me a lot.
But honestly, that’s rare.
Besides the truth of the matter is, most people are far too busy thinking about themselves to worry about what you are doing. Unless you are doing something that might harm or affect them, they won’t really care.
Yes, they might glance over but who cares.
Okay so hopefully I’ve gotten you out the door, now it’s time to enjoy yourself.
Here are some dining alone tips.
Don’t be upset if you get put at a corner table
I’ve had this happen several times. If you are by yourself and at a restaurant where they escort you to your table there is a good chance you might end up in a corner table. Not because they are trying to hide you from the world, but because that is often where the smaller tables are.
Don’t let it bother you. It’s not personal. Besides you might end up talking to other solo dinners if there are any sitting in your area. I’ve had that happen and it was fantastic fun!
Of course, you do have the right to ask them to seat you at another table if you choose. You are a paying customer after all.
Have a distraction (if you feel you need it)
In the old days, people would take a book with them to a cafe or restaurant if they were on their own.
Now, of course, most of us have mobiles (which are the major distractions in our lives). We don’t need to think about taking a distraction with us because we carry them in our pockets and handbags.
You could read your phone over a meal if that makes you feel more comfortable particularly if you are not used to dining alone.
My advice, however – put the phone down every now and then and look around you. Soak up the experience.
In case you were wondering, people do still take books with them, so enjoy reading your book with your cup of coffee or white wine.
Enjoy people watching
Personally, I love people watching.
I remember when I was a kid growing up, my grandparents lived about an hour away and we would drive to visit them quite regularly. I would look at the cars driving next to me and wonder where they were going. I’d wonder what their story was. I’d wonder if they were happy. Clearly, I’ve always been a questioner interested in other people!
Do this in the restaurant. Watch the people coming and going. This isn’t about judgment, it’s about curiosity and wonder.
If you are a blogger or writer, I would definitely take a notebook with you. You might be thinking, I might as well take my laptop with me if that’s the case, but this is about enjoying yourself not work, so try to resist that temptation.
Talk to people
Just because you are on your own doesn’t mean you have to feel that way.
Instead of just people watching, talk to people. Smile at people. Be friendly. Start conversations if you like.
Have fun with it. 🙂
Enjoy a glass of wine
You don’t have to drink wine. You don’t have to drink alcohol at all. It could be a coffee, tea or a yummy smoothie.
The keyword here is ENJOY.
Drink it slowly. Savor every mouthful. Really taste what you are drinking.
Use all of your senses. I actually love the feel of a beautiful wine glass in my hand. (FYI – I dislike those no stem wine glasses but that’s just a personal thing and a whole separate discussion :).
While we are talking about drinking, this post isn’t just about going to eat by yourself, it includes drinking by yourself as well.
In my hometown, if I’m in the city shopping or finish up with an appointment, if I feel like a glass of wine I find a nice establishment and I have one. I do it without even thinking.
This isn’t about going into a bar, quickly throwing back a drink and walking out. This is about savoring the wine and enjoying yourself.
Pick a nice place, particularly if you are a woman on your own, best not to be walking into any dodgy bars for a drink. Of course, if you are drinking alcohol, make sure you don’t drink too much.
Whether you are in a group, part of a couple or on your own, your safety is always a priority, so take that into consideration.
Enjoy the food
One of the many great things about dining by yourself is that you can order whatever you want. Think about it.
- No share plates of food that you will have to pay for that you won’t actually eat
- No meat in front of you if you are a vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian.
- No paying for stuff that other people ordered
- No eating stuff because you are hungry that someone else ordered but you could have really done without
- No going off your diet if you don’t want to
- Going off your diet if you want to 🙂
- Having two desserts if you feel like it – without anyone nagging you
- Not having to order kids meals (if that is the norm for you)
- No worrying about eating something you shouldn’t from a share plate if you have food allergies.
You can order what you want. Enjoy!
Take your time
Just because you are on your own doesn’t mean that you have to rush through your meal.
If you are at a restaurant that tries to speed you along (man I hate those) don’t get flustered and don’t think it’s just because you are on your own (it happens with couples and smaller groups a lot too).
The restaurants that try to hurry you along, usually work on a two sittings system. If you are booking ahead, which you probably should do if you want to go to a popular busy restaurant, make sure you check if they have more than one sitting, so you know if you need to be out by a certain time.
Don’t rush off, enjoy your meal and take your time.
Enjoy the solitude
If you are a busy parent and you rarely ever get time by yourself, this is the time to enjoy it!
Embrace the solitude.
Embrace the peace and quiet! (The peace and quiet part is dependent on where you choose to dine, so choose wisely if you are after quiet).
If you are a carer and you rarely get time off, enjoy it. If you always dine out with work colleagues and you get a moment on your own, make the most of it.
I think you get my meaning here, no matter what your situation, enjoy the solitude and having some time to yourself.
Enjoy the atmosphere
I remember going to dinner on a Tuesday night at Balthazar restaurant in Solo New York. The restaurant was jumping. It was busy and bustling and there was so much going on, I didn’t even think about being by myself.
Not to mention the interior of the restaurant was gorgeous and a feast for the eyes.
Soak up the amazing atmosphere and the energy of a restaurant or bar. It can help raise your energy and excitement as well.
Be in the moment
Regardless of whether you are by yourself, with someone else or with a big group of friends, this one thing can make every moment more enjoyable.
Be in the moment.
Being in the moment means you are not worrying about the chores you need to do tomorrow, you’re not thinking about work next week or the family vacation coming up.
It means you are focused on the moment and enjoying yourself at that moment.
What I recommend you don’t do
Text people constantly
I realize this will be hard for a lot of people since texting constantly is part of normal life – but please hear me out.
Most of the things I mentioned above – you will miss out on if all you do is sit and send text messages.
It won’t be an experience or an interesting time out, it will just be the same as normal and that’s not what you are aiming for.
Spend the whole time talking to someone on your mobile
The same can be said for being on the phone the whole time. If you want to make a quick call, that’s fine but again try not to spend all your time talking on the phone.
Not to mention, talking on the phone will probably annoy the other diners.
Don’t go crazy with the selfies
If you want to put a photo on Instagram fine, go ahead, but you don’t need to spend the whole time taking photos and posting them.
If you spend a good chunk of your time taking selfies, you won’t get to enjoy everything else.
Related post – 10 Ways Social Media Can Affect Your Emotions and Influence Your Mood
If you do start to feel lonely
If you start to feel lonely, grab your phone and text someone and make a plan to catch up with them over the next couple of days, then relax and get back to enjoying being on your own.
If I am feeling lonely, I’ve found that making plans to catch up with a friend, can put me in a better place emotionally.
Eating alone isn’t a big scary thing. Once you are out and about you will notice other solo dinners out and about as well. Enjoy your precious time on your own and make the most of your dining experience.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends via social media. You might just encourage someone to head off and enjoy some time on their own.
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