By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Cooking solo or eating alone? It's no biggie. When you're having a solo dinner by yourself, here's how to make the best of your solo dining and have a healthy meal!
I've had several clients get embarrassed when they tell me they often eat alone. But I have good news for you! Not only is eating solo super common, you can easily make the experience healthy and enjoyable.
have to say, as much as I love the company of others I also love a nice, quiet meal by myself. I've taken myself out for many solo meals–probably hundreds over the years. Sometimes I bring a book
or people watch, and other times I simply enjoy the peace and quiet, as well as the delicious food and good tunes.
Not all solo meals are filled with calm, though, and that's why I'm encouraging you to keep things fresh and mindful. Eat off of real dishes, play calming music, and turn off the TV. You might also want to light a candle for ambiance and to do wonders for the soul. And, of course, seek out the company of others when you're yearning companionship.
Now, read on to learn how to become a confident and successful solo diner!
How to Make Solo Dining Better for Your Health
As with any eating scenario, dining alone can be healthy—or not. Japanese researchers investigated this in a study of adults 65-plus, published in the journal Appetite.
The findings? Solo eaters might be less likely to eat fruits and vegetables. And men who live alone and eat alone are more likely to be obese—and to skip meals. Women are more likely to be obese and skip meals when they eat alone yet live with others.
Now, this isn't the horrible news it sounds like. It helps to have a collection of recipes to turn to for when you're cooking and eating alone. I often batch cook a healthy recipe when I'm having a meal alone so I have grab-and-go portions at the ready for lunch or dinner the next day. There's also no shame in turning to a heat-and-eat meal now and again.
Tips for Cooking Solo
If you find yourself cooking for one, consider these tips for eating a healthy meal:
Think About Your Meal's Make-Up
What fruit or vegetable are you going to include? How about the protein? This can be fish, eggs, etc. And what about the healthy grain, such as brown rice or oatmeal?
If you’d like to add a fat to your solo dinner, think about healthy ways to do so. Choose an oil-based salad dressing, add a sprinkling of nuts to a stir-fry or a slice of avocado to a taco.
Prep Veggies in Advance
When you're cooking solo, it really helps to pre-chop vegetables to make the cooking go faster. One of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is also super easy.
I’ll often roast a tray of butternut squash, mushrooms, or eggplant—then toss the extras in the fridge for later in the week. I mostly eat the veggies with meals, but I do love roasted butternut squash as a snack.
Enjoy Your Environment
Research shows that multi-tasking while you eat—such as watching TV—can cause you to eat faster and enjoy your food less, possibly leading to overeating later.
So set the scene for a relaxing meal: Eat at a table with a pretty plate. Play some music, and pour a cup of your favorite non-calorie beverage, such as seltzer or tea.
If you're at a restaurant and decide to sit at the bar, embrace the experience. Don't feel weird in your seat at the bar or let your blood pressure rise. Bring a book, if you'd like, to keep you company.
I promise, no one is paying attention to the single person eating alone! Solo travelers and single diners are common, whether at a casual restaurant or a fine-dining one.
Need more inspo for turning meal-time efforts into a small-scale extravaganza? Grab some ideas from this SilverSneakers.com article, including one of my favorite, fast, and easy recipes for one.
Continue the healthy cooking-for-just-you trend into the next morning, with a nutritious and delish French toast for one.
More Solo Dining Advice
I share several more ways to revamp your solo dining experience in my FoodNetwork.com article. Don't let dining alone get you down, because it really can be a healthy and liberating experience!
This blog post was updated in September 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
- Combined Effects of Eating Alone and Living Alone on Unhealthy Dietary Behaviors, Obesity and Underweight in Older Japanese Adults: Results of the JAGES, Appetite
- How to Make Dining Solo Better for Your Health, FoodNetwork.com
- Distracted Eating May Add to Weight Gain, Health.Harvard.edu
- Cooking for One: 6 Easy Meals Made in Minutes, SilverSneakers.com
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I'd love to hear from you! What are favorite tips for solo dining?
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