I recently realized how much I enjoy eating alone. This semester, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I would arrive on campus a bit after 7AM to workout at the gym. Post-sweat, I would eat quickly before starting work at the Writing Center at 9. If I didn’t get caught up at the gym, I usually had about 15-20 minutes to enjoy my packed breakfast. In the beginning, I would microwave my food at the Writing Center and then sit at my desk and eat until it was time to start work.
I would usually check emails and browse Facebook as I ate, feeling as though multi-taking in this way set me on a path for productivity throughout the rest of the day. I soon realized, however, that I was doing myself a disservice by taking my first meal of the day this way. I began thinking critically about how I could use this time more wisely and developed a routine of eating alone that I have come to cherish.
Rather than sitting at my desk, I started opting to leave to the office. At first, I would just sit in some of the seats in the hallway of the building where the Writing Center is located. This was partially due to it being “winter” in LA and thus, a bit chillier than one might like for sitting outside, and partly due to a lack of imagination on my part. As the semester progressed, however, I pushed myself to go outside regardless. I’ve read so much about the benefits of opting outside and I wanted to be better about taking advantage of them. I also made a conscious decision to not bring my phone with me.
Although society makes us believe that we should be capitalizing on every moment of the day to be “productive,” there is a lot to be said for doing one thing. Taking this 15 minutes with nothing but myself and my meal allowed me to mentally prepare for all the day’s adventures. It set a tone of self-care that I could attempt to replicate throughout the day. It served as a moment for myself on those crazy days where moments like this might otherwise be hard to come by. Eating alone in this way also served as an opportunity for me to cultivate a relationship with my food. By slowing down and focusing on the task of eating, I was able to really taste my meals and experience a feeling of gratitude for being able to nourish my body in this way.
Even if you don’t have much time, I encourage you to develop a routine of communing with your food a few times a week.
Here are some quick tips for getting the most out of your solo meal sessions:
Don’t look at your phone. If you’re in a position to just leave it at home or at the office, do it! If not, make an agreement with yourself to not take it out of your bag or pocket until you’re done with your meal. If you lack self control, like many of us do, try using the Forest app that I recommended in this post.
Take out your headphones. As a music-enthusiast and a podcast-junkie, I rarely miss an opportunity to pop in my headphones. There is a lot to be said for tuning out to tune in, however. If you’re lucky enough to eat outside, take the time to really enjoy the sounds of nature. If you’re in a big city, do some people watching. Tuning into your surroundings is a great way to ground yourself and connect to the world. If you have to eat in the office, I suggest taking a look at this article for some tips to how to create some good vibes at your desk.
Eat food that tastes good. This is pretty straight-forward. It’s much easier to enjoy the act of eating if the foods you’re eating are delicious. Basic.
Breathe. It’s easy to go through the hustle and bustle of the day without realizing how worked up we are in our minds and bodies. For many of us, the chaos of everyday life is normalized and unless we’re mindful, we can end up living in a constant state of stress. Your eat-alone time is a great moment to decompress. Take a few deep breaths before, after, and even during your meal to calm your nervous system. I often do a few neck and shoulder rolls before I start eating to signal to my mind and body that it’s okay to relax.
Hopefully these tips help you develop a love for eating alone.
Are you a fan of eating alone? What does your routine look like? Comment below to let me know!