Why It’s Okay To Eat Alone

I don’t mind eating alone. I don’t mind asking for a “table for one”.

But what I do mind is getting grief for dining by myself.

Ricotta hotcake with berries. A great meal for one, but I chose to share it.

Ricotta hotcake with berries. A great meal for one, but I chose to share it.

My Chinese-Malaysian parents are big on eating meals as a family, which is what many Asian families do. Growing up in Malaysia and Singapore, we ate dinner together almost every night. These days, it’s a different story. When I start putting my dinner on my plate before my brother is home, my mum asks, “Do you want to wait for your brother to come home and then eat?” No. No idea what time he’ll be back.

I love eating with friends: we have good conversations about life, work, love, the list goes on. But I also like eating alone, be it at home, a fast-food place or a fancy restaurant. Whenever I mention I ate alone the other day, I get pitiful looks.

We eat alone because we’re tired, not in the mood to talk over food. After a draining full day’s work talking to colleagues and clients on the phone, all I want is a quiet and quick dinner before flopping on my bed. Not much energy left in me to carry a conversation.

We eat alone because we want to enjoy our food. By ourselves in no hurry. Sometimes when we’re eating in a group, we might not get to eat what we want to eat. During big dinners with the relatives where there are ten or more Chinese dishes on the table, my mum always says, “Quick! Grab that piece of chicken breast or else other people will grab it.” Eating in a group can be one stressful competition.

We’ve something planned ahead and are in a hurry, so we eat alone. It’s convenient. No waiting for others to order and finish their food. Peace and quiet so we can finish our food and make a move. Weekends are the days when I actually have time to write; after a quick bite for lunch or dinner by myself, I can get right back into telling stories.

We eat alone because no one else wants to eat what we want to we eat or go to the restaurant we want to go to. Sometimes we simply need to satisfy our food cravings to feel ourselves again, with or without company.

Perks do come with eating alone. It’s easier to get a single seat at the bar than a table for two or more at some restaurants. Or a cozy one by the wall. Usually our food comes faster. No awkward silences between us and our eating companions when we’re chewing mouthfuls of food.

But then again, some look at eating alone the opposite way. Twice in the past six months I’ve walked into chain restaurants asking for a table to myself and got reluctant looks from the staff, and then they ushered me to a windy table for four by the door. Restaurants make less money off a single customer than two or more.

Eating alone is odd on some occasions, I won’t deny it. I’ve never had yum cha or Korean barbeque alone. It makes sense to eat some meals in a group – some dishes are meant to be shared. And eating by myself, I’ve gotten stared at, for reasons I don’t know. The interesting thing is that no one has actually approached and struck up a conversation with me while I’m eating alone (I look scary, it seems).

Whether we eat alone or with others, we should be grateful food is on the table.

We eat to live. When we’re hungry, we eat.

If we’re really that hungry and desperate for food, I think we can all find the courage to eat alone.

Do you like eating alone or with someone else?

Related articles

Advertisements

147 thoughts on “Why It’s Okay To Eat Alone

  1. Hmmm very interesting post. There are instances where I prefer to eat alone. Sometimes I like eating lunch alone simply because I don’t feel like socialising at the lunch table with my colleagues. I also enjoy solitary breakfasts on the weekends to soak up some me-time. And funnily enough I think of myself as a people person. I love being with the ‘crowd’. And I cringe with horror at the thought of going to the cinema alone. But thoroughly enjoy shopping on my own! Well each to their own, i guess? 🙂

    Like

    • It is interesting to hear you like to eat alone as you consider yourself a people person. I guess we all like our alone time every now and then. Can definitely empathise with you why you like breakfasts alone. It’s usually quieter in the mornings and there’s always something so peaceful about that. For me, I am not a morning person and in the mornings, I like to be quiet. Really am not awake enough to talk over breakfast, which is quite odd since in Malaysian culture as you may know, breakfasts are a big affair. Noisy yum cha, dim sum… 😉 Thanks for dropping by again, Amanda. I really appreciate it a lot; it makes me happy when readers come back 🙂

      Like

    • That is very good observation, Sue, and I had to take a moment to think when you said that “culture…are big factors” in my perspective. That’s so true for a lot of us, and because I’ve had a very sheltered past I think it applies to me a bit more than others (I could be wrong, though). I prefer eating alone in general. Maybe I’ve just become tired of eating at home.

      You’re right. It also does depend on the setting. Sometimes when we’re in a good mood, we celebrate by going out to eat with others. Celebratory meals. It happens quite a bit with my generation.

      Like

  2. I eat lunch alone a lot mainly out of convenience, like I’m on a break from work or I’m walking past a cafe and spontaneously decide to eat there. It’s too hard sometimes to organise meeting up with friends as we all have conflicting schedules. I also feel like I can enjoy my food more when I’m alone. Plus, I like really spicy food and it’s embarrassing to talk to people while your nose is running!

    So I’m a little bit nervous about going to Korea because all meals come with side dishes (banchan) which are meant to be shared. In a new place where I might not know anybody, I won’t always have someone to eat with. I hope people don’t think I’m too weird!

    Like

    • And here I was thinking I was the only one who likes to spontaneously drop into funky cafes and dine there by my own. Chances are if I don’t pop in, it might be a while before I come back there. Haha, that’s a good point. If you eat too much spicy food at once, your face may turn red and it will be the talk of the meal. And you might burst out into a fit of coughing from ingesting something too spicy. Conversation stopper right there.

      I hope you have fun on your trip to Korea. Sounds like an adventure of a lifetime and I can’t wait to read about it. I’m sure people there (and everywhere else actually) are quite accepting of eating alone – lots of Asian takeaway food and fast-food and drinks that are usually consumed on the go and, of course, alone. And no one really laughs at that.

      Like

  3. I like eating out alone. You can savour the food, people watch and spend time with your thoughts. Eating with friends or family is obviously great fun. Which you prefer, depends on the mood and occasion I guess.

    Like

    • Savour the food. Very nice way to put it. Chew slowly, taste every morsel of your meal, and maybe even order something else after you’re finished eating what’s on your plate. With eating companions, you can’t pay full attention to your food as you have to pay attention to them, which can also be very interesting. Sometimes when I rush through my meals alone, I don’t remember what I ate and how my meal tasted – it feels like a part of my life is missing.

      Yes, eating alone or with others does depend on our mood and the setting. If we’re sad, maybe we want to hide away and commiserate. If we’re happy, we might go out and have a big meal with our friends and spread the happiness.

      Like

  4. Great post Mabel. I never thought about why we eat alone. Because I work in shifts now it happens that I have to eat alone. But I can’t remember when I went to a restaurant and ordered a table for myself the last time. I suppose cause I’m in a relationship that it doesn’t occurs many times that I have to eat alone. Me and my boyfriend love to eat together especially when we cook dinner. We also love to go out for dinner. There are so many international restaurants in the neighbourhood with delicious and cheap food.

    Like

    • I never thought about why we eat alone too until last weekend. I felt like writing about food for the blog this week and started to write about why we celebrate with food. Then I realised the topic wasn’t working and this eating alone topic popped into my head. And the very next day I just so happened to eat KFC lunch alone…

      I bet your boyfriend is awesome company when you’re eating. You can each order your own dishes or more dishes and then share it between the two of you – you get to try more foods 🙂 It would take you twice as long to try all the foods in your neighbourhood if you ate alone. By the way, I love your new profile photo!

      Like

      • Thanks for the compliment Mabel 🙂

        You’re right. If you have dinner in company with your family or friends you can try different dishes. We also try to go to different restaurants and not always to the same one. But of course we have our favourite ones 😉 There is a good Thai restaurant just a 10 minute walk from our apartment where we like to eat if have no better idea.

        Although that I like to eat in company I can understand your reasons why you sometime prefer to eat alone. Maybe I seldom eat alone because I’m afraid of this feeling when people stare at you that you’re sitting alone at a table. But actually me and a good book can be a better company than a bored conversation with a friend. And what the hell should I matter about what other people might think about me! Maybe I should give it a try 😉
        Thanks for your inspiring post Mabel.

        Like

        • There is a lot of positives to eating with someone else, and I definitely agree with this. Eating with someone else, not only do you get to try more foods, you also get good conversations. I guess you also like eating with your boyfriend so you can talk to him and of course, spend time and get cozy with him. Eating is an intimate affair in the first place – we’re putting food into our bodies for nourishment.

          I like the idea of a good book and eating alone. Reading a book while eating, you might look busy and not to mention smart. People should be more inclined to leave you alone 🙂 Thanks for the words, Anja.

          Like

  5. That looks delicious! I like to eat with others but purely because I love talking about food and want to know if it tastes nice… even if it’s simply a meal I’ve made a hundred times for my husband. I rarely eat on my own when I’m out but I used to live on my own and would therefore eat alone at home all the time. I think I didn’t enjoy it as much because I didn’t like to cook a full meal for one person. There’s often a lot of waste or leftovers which I hate!

    Like

    • You’re a cook, Beth, so I’m not surprised to hear that you love talking about food 😉 Even if you’ve cooked a meal a thousand times, sometimes by using a different ingredient from a different place, it will taste different. And I suppose your husband Andy can always point that out for you, a plus when you’re eating with someone else.

      So true, lots of leftovers if you’re making a big meal and only one person ends up eating it. You can eat the leftovers another day but sometimes you get tired of that. So that’s a good reason to eat or cook with/for someone else. You probably also learn more about cooking at once if you’re cooking for someone other than yourself.

      And that hotcake was delicious. Just the right amount of creamy ricotta to balance out the sweetness of the berries!

      Like

  6. Firstly that cake looks so yummy and tempting. And I am sure to go out this afternoon and have a cake :):)

    And i agree with you on the part of having a habit of eating your meals with family. I did that too. But after moving countries, there are manytimes I ate meals alone. My job is a lot of travelling, initially while going to a resturant I would hesitate asking a table for one. But not anymore, I learnt to enjoy eating meals alone, it is like time just for me, watching people around and ponder over my thoughts.
    Great post Mabel.

    Much Love
    Aanchal

    Like

    • While writing this post, traveling and eating alone didn’t cross my mind. Glad you brought that up. Some of us travel alone, so unless we make a new friend along the way, we’ll have to eat alone. Maybe sometimes on our travels we want to eat alone to save money – eat alone at fast food places, mixed vegetable stalls and so on. I love people watching as I eat too. It’s like you’re in your own world, feeling happy as you’re eating food you like (hopefully) and watching another world in front of you 🙂

      That cake was yummy. Just the right amount of sweetness in it. I hope you got your cake!

      Like

  7. Sure, ever since I live with my wife it is pretty hard to eat alone however sometimes it happens, for example when she only prepared food for me or, most importantly, when I am in front of my pc and just want to relax. Eating alone is relaxing for me, eating with others often feels like battles (have to eat quick or the best pieces are gone before my eyes),
    It is fine when it is just my wife or my parents but when there are more people I just can’t relax, might be also because I really don’t like talking during my precious eating time.

    Like

    • You have a great wife there, one who will prepare you food 😀 “eating with others often feels like battles” Perfectly said, that’s how I feel at family dinners and eating with seven or so more friends, ordering sharing dishes over rice. For instance, whenever there’s sweet and sour pork on the table, that dish is literally gone in an instant after it is served. If you heap the best bits of food on your plate at the start of a group meal, usually you end up looking greedy and selfish.

      I hope you really do relax when eating in front of the computer, that you’re doing something fun like browsing stuff online as opposed to working. I do eat at work at my pc but it doesn’t feel relaxing as I’m multi-tasking work.

      Like

  8. Eating is a social event deep rooted in biology (from back in the days when the neanderthals sat around the camp fire and shared their latest prey). Sometimes we have to (or we choose to) eat alone, but biologically speaking it’s a social event and humans actually change their body language when they eat alone.

    Like

    • Sitting around a bonfire, roasting meat over it as a tribe…those were the days for some of us back then. When we eat in a group, I think there’s a tendency for us to look up and look around at our eating companions – giving our bodies a bit of a lift.

      On the other hand, eating alone, I think we’re more likely to hunch over our meals…our meals which could be the only entertaining thing around us.

      Thanks for the bit of history, Cardinal. I can always count on you for some wise words and lessons. As wise as Rafiki 🙂

      Like

      • You’re absolutely right when you say that people have a tendency to hunch over their meals when they eat alone. That’s exactly one of the things that they showed in the documentary I watched.

        Like

        • That sounds like an interesting documentary. Sometimes people hunch over their meals even more so than hunching over their keyboards and computers at work. That’s what I’ve noticed.

          In a sense, eating is a private and primal activity: we are the only ones feeding our bodies so that we continue to live. When we eat alone, we are left to our own thoughts and perhaps are more conscious of this – that we eat to live.

          Like

  9. I think it depends of the moment…when I used to live alone I used to hate to eat looking at the walls, so I was always watching something so I didnt feel alone. Now that I’m married I really enjoy having dinner with my husband. But I love just sitting outside at a cafe or restaurant and eat alone observing people passing by 🙂 great blog!

    Like

    • Looking at walls while eating! You make eating alone sound boring 😀 I guess eating alone can be boring if you’re not enjoying your food and don’t have a nice scenery to look at as you eat. I’m sure you get to try more foods eating with your husband – you can always order and finish more dishes between two people.

      You have a great blog too. Why didn’t I discover it sooner? 🙂

      Like

      • ahahaha you are right… when I used to live alone I wasnt so good at cooking, so it wasnt so fun! Now its ok, I have fun cooking and eating alone whenever I need to…the best part of it is to be in silent, to eat slowly and to appreciate the moment…you are right! 🙂 Thank you!! I also dont know how I didnt discover your sooner hahaha

        Like

        • I am so not good at cooking. Maybe I should find a dinner companion and eat with someone – cook for and with someone. Cooking IS a part of food and eating, so maybe if we cook with someone, then eating with someone (the dish we cooked) will be enjoyable.

          I like eating alone anad slowly as I can concentrate on tasting all the ingredients I can in my meal and figuring them out. Maybe I have a serious face when I do this, and people stare. Haha!

          Like

          • Yes, it is enjoyable, it is more fun and makes more sense. Hahahaha, I also like tasting the food…I never eat fast, even when Im really hungry. My husband for example eats so fast that I always ended up eating and with him looking at me hahahaha

            Like

            • I’m a slow eater too, a very slow eater. When I eat in a group, the others like to remark how slow I’m eating and how there’s still so much food on my plate. Quite annoying and another reason why I sometimes prefer eating alone. You husband must love you very much if he’s to put up with your slow eating every day 😀

              Like

    • Very refreshing to hear, Sylvia. It sounds like you like eating with someone very much. I guess eating with someone else, you get to try more foods to whet your tastebuds. That is, your tastebuds never feel bored. And add in spontaneous conversation, that meal is one of a kind.

      I hope you haven’t been caught out staring at someone eating alone.

      Like

  10. These are good reasons to eat alone, Marbel. Eating alone seems more acceptable now these days. I saw people eat happily with friends and relatives in Spain and Italy, more so than Chinese.I eat alone when I take business trip, and do go to movies alone sometimes. 🙂

    Like

    • Good to hear eating alone is really happening in parts of the world up north. I hope to see it for myself someday when I journey up there. Eating “bar-style” or at the bar on a single stool seems very popular these days, so maybe that’s why eating alone is becoming more acceptable and commonplace.

      Marbel. That’s a new one. Another one to add to my nickname collection. Thank you, Amy 😀

      Like

    • Thanks, Amy. But my photos can never compare to yours 🙂 I took this hotcake photo with a Canon Ixus and then touched it up with Picasa. I did add a bit of HDR filter to it. Was trying not to make that too obvious. Thanks for your nice words.

      Like

  11. I’m eating alone right now at a Japanese fast food restaurant. I admit I have less appetite and I’m unwilling to go into a nocer restaurant knowing I’m alone. It’s not as enjoyable if I can’t share the experience. I tend to grab a quick snack instead.

    Like

    • Awww, sorry to hear that you’re not entirely enjoying your meal by yourself. I feel for you. Sometimes when I walk into a nice restaurant with polished tables and fancy cutlery all alone, I wonder if anyone would want to share this moment with me. A nice feeling comes from sharing, I suppose. You sound like a very selfless person, and I would like to eat with you. Free food for me 😉

      Like

  12. I don’t mind eating alone but I love eating with family and friends during special occasions. Dining in a dim sum buffet, All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ restaurants or any kind of buffet restaurants is more fun with groups. I seldom see people go on buffets alone, it is lonely. But if in case the group will charge the buffet bill on me, I’d rather be alone. LOL.

    During my busy days at work, Drive-Park-Order-Dine-Drive was my routine. Always on the go, I eat by myself. Likewise with having a quick Starbucks coffee break. Sometimes I eat alone to kill time while waiting for an appointment.

    Eating with friends in a kopitiam or food courts is also convenient. You can order your food, seat and start eating your meal without the need to wait for everybody to return to the table.

    Like

    • Ah, those drive-in or drive-by fast food things. There are a lot of these places beside highways in Malaysia (including McDonalds) and often I do spy the lone diner here and there. After all, driving long distances always makes one hungry.

      You are right about buffets. It’s usually a group thing and you get a better price this way. Once I went to a hotel buffet with my family and got charged as a kid even though I was sixteen 😀 For some reason, I feel that if you go to buffets alone, you won’t eat much and feel you won’t get bang for your buck…a psychological thing in some sense.

      Haha, eating to kill time. I like that. It’s like food is your best friend!

      Like

  13. Eating with people. I have always felt awkward when eating with people. I have tried to determine why for years but I haven’t pinned it down yet. Maybe I’m self-conscious about it? Anyways, what I really want to say is that there can be biological factors to eating out. For example, I am gluten intolerant, which means I cannot eat at a majority of restaurants, particularly in Japan. One of the most popular things to do here is go out to eat. It immediately alienates me from everyone else and over time, I am no longer invited because they assume I cannot eat where they’re going. Which is probably true. Anyways, it has put a considerable kink in my ability to socialize with new people.

    At the same time, I am a little relieved that I have an automatic out, especially in situations I deem potentially awkward. It has forced me to engage with people from a different perspective that doesn’t revolve around food, that ubiquitous, wonderful, life-sustaining miracle of food.

    Thanks for sharing an interesting topic. Have a wonderful day!

    Like

    • Feeling awkward eating with people. I feel that too quite a bit. It depends on who you’re eating with, I suppose. Eating with our best buds, we mostly feel good as they can be understanding about our food choices. But if it’s with someone we’ve just met or even not-that-close colleagues, we have every right to feel weirded out. Maybe they will laugh at what and how much we eat? Sadly, everyone has a right to judge others in this world.

      As you mentioned feeling self-conscious can be a factor. I feel for you not being able to eat certain foods. I can’t eat tomato and acidic foods too much and so have to be very careful about eating outside with others. And I like people to enjoy the foods that they like to eat, basically have a good time over food. So I end up not dining out in groups too much.

      Yes, we can definitely engage with others in non-food situations. Interesting you mention that. I originally started this post writing about our obsession with celebrating occasions and events with food…then I got stuck and decided to write about eating alone. Maybe I’ll revisit the first topic one day. Thanks for stopping by, Matt 🙂

      Like

  14. I like to eat alone so I can simultaneously read, study, try to be productive. At home I love to eat alone and catch up on tv/movies. It’s great to eat with others, but it can be exhausting every single day. Save it for special occasions.

    Another activity best left alone: going to the cinema, for the best experience in a deep feeling that requires careful viewing there’s no one to chat with during the film.

    Like

    • Sounds like you’re a multi-tasker. I hope you haven’t spilled food over your books or laptop. That wouldn’t be pretty at all. Special occasions? That sounds fancy. Sometimes I do celebrate new beginnings over a bit of a pricey meal, but only sometimes.

      Totally agree with you that going to the cinema should be a solitary affair. It’s a pet peeve of mine when someone leans over and asks what’s going on on the screen. But one can argue that going to the cinema with friends means room for a deep discussion of the film once you’re done watching it.

      Like

        • When I want to go and see a film, then I’ll go see a film. If I go alone, so be it. More snacks to myself. I can always talk about the film a few days later when I catch up with my friends who’ve seen it.

          Like

  15. Interesting post:) ! I like dining alone and i dont care when they staring at me weirdly. I often have lunch alone in the park because it is soothing for my mind. There is even a concept restaurant in Amsterdam for a single table restaurant. It is for people who want to dine alone. I heard the concept is well received and the owner is expanding it to Asian countries.

    Like

    • Thanks, Oppie! You are brave to dine alone, just like me. I’ve heard of solo-dining concept restaurants in Europe and wondered how true they were. Thanks for confirming that 😀 I hope one day we have places like these in Australia.

      Come to think of it, having lunch outdoors in the park on a sunny day during work doesn’t seem odd…something about this whole scene, lying and lazing around, makes it perfectly acceptable.

      Like

    • Thanks, Jess. I love it when you stop by. I’m sure your furry friend always keeps you company at the dinner table at home most days. I’ve been trying out writing this style of late. Definitely something very different to what I was writing last year and a few months ago. I think I like writing this way.

      Like

  16. I enjoy both. Sometimes it is nice to share a meal with friends and family. Talk, laugh and enjoy. But I also like to eat alone. My life can be hectic….so any chance I get to be quiet and be in my own thoughts I appreciate it.
    I frequently eat lunch alone because of work demands. But that is a time I get to catch up on writing or finish ideas I’ve started.
    Your point about being tired after a long day….I think that is why the American culture has moved toward eating meals in front of the TV instead of at the table with the family. Its easier to sit and stare at the TV while eating. Less energy required…compared to making conversation.
    Nice post Mabel!! “Food for thought!”

    Like

    • You have a very balanced head there, Tree. Life is life and there’ll always be times when we have to eat in a group and eat alone.

      Like you, I often eat lunch alone because I want to get it over and done with and get back to work. Sometimes I eat at my desk…which is terrible, I know.

      Good point about American culture-TV eating. Never thought about that but it actually makes a lot of sense. TV-eating has become a way of relaxing – and a kind of eating.

      “Food for thought” I am speechless. You owned the comments section 😀

      Like

  17. I always feel self-conscious eating alone in a restaurant, but a coffee shop? No problem. I think it’s all kind of up to the individual. I don’t think we should be criticized for our preferences, though. I have felt stared at before, too, but that was usually in Asia where I stuck out like a sore thumb, anyway. 😉

    Great post, Mabel!

    Like

    • I suppose when you’re at a coffee shop, especially those in Asia, anything goes. You can rearrange the tables to make a bigger table, spit on the floor, wash your own cutlery in the little hot bowls they give you…all these sound more weird than eating alone. The only time I feel like I stick out eating alone is when I people watch and someone looks right back at me. Caught out 🙂 Thanks for reading, Jess. This post sort of deviates from what I usually write, I think I like it.

      Like

  18. well, my ex-girlriend was happen as type of person who didn’t recognize a taste of michelin star chef dish and foodstall dish instead from how its looks alike
    i definitely would rather to enjoymy michelin chef platter alone and bring her to a food stall rightafter ol
    the question is, why do many chicks really bitchin about feellng akward to dinning alone, do what you’ve gonna do my friend!

    Like

    • Lol, Dedy. I’m sorry things didn’t work out between the two of you. You sound like a nice guy. Maybe your ex-girlfriend just appreciated food for food: food is nourishment for the soul and nothing more. Of course, lots of effort goes into good food and Michelin starred dishes and it doesn’t hurt to slowly enjoy these dishes 🙂 If you cook a Michelin starred dish, I will eat it very, very slowly.

      I think you’re right. From my observations, I don’t see too many girls eating alone. Really, nothing is wrong with eating alone. When you’re hungry, we must eat. Enough said.

      Like

  19. yummy!!
    I grew up not having a family to eat dinner with so I always enjoyed meals around the table with my children. There is something about having time to recap the day as a family.
    With busy schedules we have meals together less often 😦

    Like

    • Sorry to hear you didn’t grow up with a family to have dinner with. Eating dinner with the ones you love is a cozy affair, if everyone gets what they want to eat and don’t sit down at the dinner table angry. Even if you are angry, you can talk about it with them and feel better afterwards. I hope you and your family find time to eat meals together more. Even sometimes – precious moments 🙂

      Like

  20. Great topic and I find it very interesting to see that so many people don’t mind (or even enjoy) eating alone. I’ve lived alone much of my life so I don’t mind eating alone…at home but at a restaurant? I hate it!!! I feel so awkward, kind of like when I quit smoking and didn’t know what to do with my hands. At a restaurant, I don’t know what to do with my eyes, or thoughts. What are you eating over there? Is it good? Why are you looking at me? And on and on. In the “old” days, if I had to eat out alone, I would take a book, or a notepad to write. Now, of course, I have my phone…and take pictures of what I’m eating and share. Adaptation yes??

    Like

    • Thanks, Maya. I guess sometimes we feel awkward alone in restaurants because, well, it’s a public place – as you say strangers stay at us – and it could be a place we are unfamiliar, hence uncomfortable in. Some restaurants might have table etiquette rules or something like that, and you don’t want to come across as rude. You’re right. These days if we’re eating alone we’re very likely to whip out or phones and stare at it the whole time. I do that sometimes when I want to catch up on news or browse Twitter.

      Many times when I eat alone, I just like to stare into the distance. I’m sure I look like a robot, but I really don’t mind 🙂

      Like

        • Hahaha. Food bomb. That’s the first I’ve heard of that phrase 😀 It’s not often that sweet and savoury go well together. I think most of us prefer one or the other.

          To be honest, if I went to that cafe alone where I ate the hotcake, I would still have ordered it. It just looks too delicious.

          Like

            • Do you write about food? I notice you have a beauty blog, you do the close-up photos really well. So I imagine you’d take close-ups of food photos great too.

              I always take my time to take photos of food when I eat alone. No pressure from others to hurry up and eat.

              Like

              • I write mostly about beauty stuff .. But I occasionally post articles from other peoples blog that I really would love to share. I also write random stuff that comes to my mind sometimes. So it’s a chaos kinda blog 😊
                I use my iPhone for taking pictures, no dandy set up or camera, just the phone. And I absolutely agree about taking time to capture the shot may it be food or anything else because it needs to be perfect. Once you are putting the post together there is no way to get the same pictures again, so it needs work the first time

                Like

                • Sounds like you know how to write on many different topics, good on you. It’s something some struggle with. For instance, I struggle with writing lifestyle posts and reviews. Academic writing is what I’m good at.

                  So true. Sometimes my food goes cold as I take too long to take photos of it 😀

                  Like

                  • Naah … You make me sound smarter than I am… It’s a random mumble that’s all. But I just talk too much in real life and maybe that’s what comes across, I want to talk about everything. 😳

                    And about pictures, oh yes.. Food getting cold, cold food melting .. It’s a bit too much sometimes but it’s fun ! The people around sometimes give the craziest looks when we take pictures don’t they ??!

                    Like

  21. I am now more than convinced to eat alone because of this post, Mabel. I must admit, there was this movie that made me like doubt to eat alone. One of the important character there said that there’s nothing sadder in life than to eat alone. Since then, I made sure that won’t happen. On the contrary, there is this part of me that loves solitude. It goes without saying I still love to eat alone to just enjoy mincing every bit of whatever food I have for a “payday treat”.

    For me, there is such a thing as right time to eat alone and eat with someone else. You get the picture.

    PS

    I wouldn’t mind starting up a conversation with you if ever, and provided that you’re already done eating by then.
    🙂

    Like

    • I wonder what movie is that, saying nothing is sadder than eating alone. It sounds like a romantic movie, and a very closed-minded one. We can enjoy eating alone: as you said, we can enjoy eating the our meal in front of us. We can read a book while eating. Or watch TV.

      Oh yes. There are times to eat alone and with someone else. Personally, I don’t mind eating with someone if I’m not in a rush and if someone politely asks if they want to eat with me. So, feel free to eat and chat with me if you see me 🙂

      Like

  22. Very interesting post Mabel, Liked the it as soon as I saw the title and then started reading it 🙂
    My mum never have her dinner before my father finishes or at least before he starts, but in our generation it hardly matters at home.
    Yea, eating alone?
    At home, I am ok both ways but outside, I really like to have my dinner with someone, either my wife, friends or cousins 🙂
    I just like to have some funny conversations over dinner and have a great time… 🙂
    But in office, I feel like, just sit alone, have the lunch and escape to my cubicle, rather than getting involved in all these gossips and formal conversations 🙂

    Like

    • Same with my mum. My mum always waits for either me or my brother to come home and then start eating. She’s always the last to start eating during meal times…and yet she always finishes her dinner first, eating as much as the rest of us most of the time.

      That is great you enjoy company with your food. I guess this runs in some families and it makes eating a merry occasion. I so agree with you there. I do like to escape the office for lunch so I don’t have to hear gossips and annoying stories about other people’s lives 🙂

      Four smileys in one comment, Sreejith. I think that’s a record… 🙂

      Like

      • I think I have got one more ‘stats’ to watch out, and if possible, try to break 🙂

        Yea, Having lunch/dinner with your colleagues is one of the most boring thing for me, gossips or technical discussions during lunch time makes is simply horrible 🙂

        Like

        • I usually loose my appetite and eat much more slowly when my eating companions start gossiping about others. But like you, I find eating with my colleagues dull. Then again, it could be because we just don’t gel well together socially 🙂

          Like

  23. I do like eating alone at times, but generally if I am only “dining for one” I make something at home instead. Eating at restaurants are more fun when I am with family and friends, as I get to enjoy the atmosphere along with the food…and enjoy staying there for hours sometimes. At home growing up, we always at together as a family…there was never any question we’d do anything but eat together. I guess all of these are more a social engagement as well as a meal.

    However, it really is the case with me that a meal is solely a moment to add fuel to the body. And I eat alone the majority of the time because it is efficient and therefore enjoyable 🙂 Ha, ha, that sounds so clinical but it is true for me. Great post, great questions 🙂

    Like

    • “dining for one”. That’s a phrase you don’t hear to often and when you mentioned it, I thought eating alone sounds very lonely 🙂 I think sometimes when we’re enjoying ourselves eating with friends and family in restaurants, we tend to order another dish (or drink) so that we can chat more. Eating alone, I’m always conscious that I’m powering up my body for energy with food. It sounds silly, haha.

      Growing up, it’s hard to eat alone as most of us live with our families and our parents always, always insist on cooking for us. I guess we eat with them to show our appreciation.

      Like

      • You have a great point, we eat with family or those we live with to show appreciation. I think there is a lot of truth in that. However it is always nice to just grab a bite to eat when it is convenient without having to worry about how others will react (sounds selfish, but…).

        Whenever I go solo to a restaurant, it seems they always say “table for one” and it sounds so weird…which is one reason I hate eating out alone. Those words seem to reinforce that eating out is meant for eating with friends 🙂

        Like

        • It does sound selfish, eating by yourself for the convenience for it all. But really, sometimes we have our own plans too, and for some of us like me I get a kick out of eating alone. I get the weirdest looks when I say “table for one”, which always makes me question why I’m eating alone. Then I always tell myself, “It’s okay. Not the end of the world” 🙂 I’m sure many people eat alone but I don’t seem to see them all the time outside…

          Like

          • It is nice to be able to sit back in a restaurant with a table for one. and watch (and eat) ~ I do that a lot when I travel. But for some reason, when I am eating alone (which is often), I just have a mission to put fuel in my body as fast/efficiently as possible 🙂 Cheers

            Like

  24. It is so strange the way our cultures defines us… In US I think it’s pretty normal to eat out and go to restaurants, but here in Croatia that is a luxury, something we do when we celebrate something and it is usually reserved and more than few people go… … Of course, we have fast food restaurants and McDonalds where it’s normal to go and grab a bite, but sitting down in a restaurant… I’m thinking of that idea and it makes me smile because that is nearly impossible… I think the waiters would do anything in their power to make me feel welcomed 😀
    Btw I don’t like eating in front of other people because I like to eat with hand and not to think how I look when I eat, so I don’t prefer eating in restaurants

    Like

    • Never knew that it’s a luxury to go out and eat in sit-down restaurants in Croatia, unless you’re very rich of course. Sounds like you guys in Croatia celebrate big with food when the time comes, like ordering a lot of food and inviting a lot of people to the occasion. Haha, I guess if you eat alone and there’s a helpful AND cute waiter, you will be very welcomed entertained 😀

      Sometimes eating with hand isn’t seen as “classy”. A lot of my friends in Singapore eat with hand usually when eating at hawker places but in restaurants use fork and spoons. So definitely can see why you’re self-conscious about eating in restaurants. Maybe restaurants are afraid you’ll wipe your hands on their table cloth, but I don’t think we all do that 🙂

      Like

      • Hahaha, no I would not eat with my hand in a restaurant, but I become self-conscious and can’t enjoy in my meal, especially if the next table is very close :/
        Yeah it is expensive to eat out here, there are cheaper places and discounts but it is still not affordable.

        Like

        • That’s a very good point you raise there – it tends to be a bit expensive eating outside a lot of the time. Sometimes cooking a meal for one at home is easy, so we might prefer to do that rather than go out and eat alone in a restaurant 😛

          Like

          • I prefer that, or to buy something to go, for example čevapćići, kebab or something similar. I wrote it in my own language because I really have no idea how do you say it, it is traditional specialty here, originating from Turkey and BiH… I like to prepare food just for me or for two people, bc I am so used to “having to” make lunch for 5 people and I hate that AND avoid that as much as I can 😀 That is actually the reason I thought I don’t like cooking. Turns out, I do, but when I can go creative and make my own ways and experiment or just cook together something for 20 minutes for myself 🙂 It is a loooooooooooooooot cheaper 😀

            Like

  25. Like some other folks have commented, I also eat alone largely as a means to refuel and appease my hunger. If I’m really busy and all by myself, I’d almost rather skip a meal entirely. It sounds weird, but for me the joy of sharing a meal with someone else is half the reason why I eat in the first place!

    Like

    • When you’re hungry, anything tastes good and eating alone shouldn’t really occur to you. After all, when we’re hungry or craving for a certain food, sometimes we don’t think straight 😀 You sound very generous. Skipping meals. Saving your hunger to get more hungrier later to eat with someone else!

      Like

  26. What an interesting post Mabel. For me there is eating and eating. If I eat only not to be hungry I don’t care to much if I’m alone or not, but if I go out for fine dining I really do this only in company with some body. When I’m alone I go more often in a fast food then in a restaurant. I think eating is social and better the food, better the company or is it invers? 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks, Erwin. We all like eating and have to eat, don’t we? I think you make a lot of sense. I think you’re right in that we can get a good time out of eating with others 🙂 When I go eat in a fancy restaurant, I really don’t mind company at all: we can order and share more dishes, and a good time to catch up with people we know. There’s also a feeling of adventure when you go into a restaurant for the first time – you don’t really know how your meal and company will turn out. You may all like your time there by the end of it, but then again, there’s also every chance that not everyone might like their experience there. Different tastebuds, someone not in a good mood…. 🙂

      Like

    • That ricotta hotcake definitely tasted glorious. Not too heavy on the cheese. Mainly sweet, but not too sweet either. If you had only the choices of eating that alone or not eating that at all, you will be sure to go for eating it alone!

      Like

  27. Pingback: Why Asians Like To Queue | Mabel Kwong

  28. I learned to eat alone at restaurants in Japan. Usually did it twice a day on a workday. It’s very normal there and sometimes they seat you at a table with a stranger when the restaurant is busy. All very normal. I liked eating alone at restaurants while reading a book or watching something on my iPhone. Have done this as well in during my lunch hour here in England, but my coworkers really regard me as crazy. They can’t understand me going out to a pub or lunchplace by myself and eating my food alone. That’s alright, I don’t mind being the weird foreigner ;).

    Like

    • Very nice to meet someone who doesn’t mind eating alone. I really didn’t know it was normal to eat alone in Japan. Maybe a lot of these people are always in a hurry to go back to work or play or something.

      I am sorry to hear that your co-workers think of you as crazy. I too like to eat lunches alone. After all, I spend 7-8 hours with my colleagues during work, and I suppose you do do 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, in Japan it’s loads of salareymen out for lunch or dinner. They work such crazy hours, from early morning to very late at night (like 22:00), sometimes 6 days a week, so they really don’t have time to cook.

        I feel the same as you. You spend your whole workday with your coworkers, your lunch hour is for relaxing. Desides they’re not paying me that hour, so it’s all mine, for me to not have to talk to anyone :).

        Like

        • Those are indeed crazy working hours. But I suppose they earn enough to buy themselves fancy meals and enjoy them alone, all by themselves 😀

          That is SO true. Most work places don’t pay you for your lunch hour, including mine. Good reason to have lunch solo if we like 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  29. I am a gal, and love to eat and alot:) countless time of dining alone, including bbq, buffet, pizza etc. Reason because when we eat with certain people with smaller appetite, you can’t enjoy eating more. They’ll start saying things like is not good to eat so much etc, and continuing my food makes it less enjoyable. And we’ve to keep talking over our meals which make it harder for me to fully concentrate on enjoying my food. Though i’m also fine to eat with people, i will still prefer to eat with people who talk lesser when eating, but feel free to talk as much as we like after our meals. I ever heard whispers from other diners near my table, see, she eat alone. Maybe they’ll never know the pleasure of enjoying food alone and must get company to show their life is fulfilling all the time with friends and activities, i think. alk lesser when eating, and feel free to talk as much as you like before or after our meals:) i do get comments from other diners near me,

    Like

    • Another girl like me who doesn’t mind eating alone!

      “…when we eat with certain people with smaller appetite, you can’t enjoy eating more.” I found this interesting as I haven’t encountered anyone like this, but now that you mention it, I’m sure it happens. I’m sorry to hear that it happens to you.

      I’m generally a slow eater. Sometimes when I eat with a group of people they’ll remark how I’m still eating when they’re done, and when these remarks sound condescending, I wish I had eaten alone.

      “talking over our meals” makes it harder to fully concentrate on our food. So agree with you there. Sometimes life’s best moments is spent in silence, observing the world around us and the stories that unfold before our eyes. In terms of food, I like to see what’s in my food and admire it for what it is with all my senses 🙂

      Like

      • me too, a very slow eater, guess till now i haven’t met one who eat slower than me 😛
        Often i wonder why people have to eat so fast like so rushing all the time.
        So sometimes those who eat with me will glance at their watch once they’re done with their meals..
        esp during worktime lunch hours.
        Yeah, most gals i ate with are small eaters, so don’t like buffet bbq etc. Most gals prefer to be slim 😛
        When we talk alot during meals, we can’t enjoy the taste fully. It’ll only feel like just putting the food in.
        But when we don’t talk to each other, again, it’s another so-called “awkward” moment.
        It’s normal that we do mind how will people think of us spending times alone, though all of us know it’s perfectly normal to do so.
        We’re humans who love friends + activities too, but perhaps deep down, we also wish to have some moments to fully re-charge ourselves, be it eating, reading, shopping alone or just a stroll in the park.
        Some people will say they can never go out alone without friends, and “pity” those who go alone.
        Guess it’s this tiny fear of others’ opinion or society norm so most of us refrain from doing so?

        Like

        • Oh, trust me. I’m a very, very slow eater. Probably much slower than you. I’m the kind who’ll take my time to cut up my food, chew, swallow, enjoy it, look around and start eating again 😉

          “I wonder why people have to eat so fast like so rushing all the time.” Exactly, why so rushing, I have no idea. If you’re on a short lunch break like half an hour, okay, maybe you have to rush a bit or else eat less and possibly throw some of your food out.

          I don’t know, maybe rushing eating because there’s this rushing feeling at work and it carries over to the lunch break.

          What a lovely response towards the end. We certainly need alone time to recharge, and a moment to enjoy the simple things around us and be thankful for what we have – like a plate of food. I think we’re all afraid of being judged…because at the end of the day, sometimes people’s perceptions can affect your relationship with them.

          Like

          • yes, that should be the way:D
            To me eating slowly is definitely an enjoyment and a way to relax mentally.
            I ever ate a friend who place the food all over like a nice painting then start eating haha
            Half an hour lunch break definitely not enough for me, esp weekdays peak hours
            Yup, ‘cos it’s natural that we wish to portray an positive image, without flaws being discovered if possible, which include moments of being just alone in silence, in different stages of our lives, which everyone will go through, regardless how many friends or activities we have.
            We wish people won’t comment or look strangely at us, when we eat alone, ask for table for one in restaurants, which isn’t society norm.
            I think, a part of why people’s perceptions will affect our relationship with them, is actually something we’re afraid to face up to, so we’re bothered when they comment.
            Think the best moments ever is when we’re still kids, when we won’t mind much and can fully be our true selves, agree?

            Like

            • Me too. Eating slowly, and eating in general, is something I like to be peaceful. Sometimes when I ask for a table for one, I feel that the waiter hurries me – hurries me to my table, then straight away asks me what I want to eat. Most of the time I’ve usually made up my mind what to eat, though.

              Oh yes. When we’re kids, we’re usually allowed to have fun. That’s normal – enjoy childhood before the real world is upon us 🙂

              Like

              • There was once i went to Fish & Co alone, after seated, the waiter passed me a magazine, which i didn’t request at all. Perhaps think i’ll be bored or don’t want me look weird sitting alone. But to me it really doesn’t matter.
                I never encountered those who’ll hurries me, only certain will have abit of pitiful looks when i asked for table for one.
                Actually i don’t understand what’s the difference, only that restaurants look more “classy”? But isn’t it the same type of people eating, so doesn’t differ from a normal coffee shop or foodcourt, where eat alone looks perfectly fine? Perhaps is just only the environment, though it’s just an less than an hour meal thingy anywhere.
                As kids, the disadvantage is don’t have own income, have to be dependent and maybe not much freedom. But the best thing is a very pure, happier heart so all these won’t matter much.
                As adults, we can earn own income and be independent, but the heart is not as pure & innocent, which how much immeasurable wealth can never be bought.

                Like

                • I love Fish & Co, and I miss it so much. The fish and chips in Australia taste great, but there’s always a special place in my heart for it 🙂 Maybe the waiter was being nice to you, handing you that magazine. But if you were with someone else, then he probably wouldn’t do that…

                  That ‘classy’ thought is an interesting one. Have to agree with you, whether someone is eating alone or with friends, they can certainly look classy depending on how they dress. Usually someone eating alone doesn’t take a long time (with the exception of us!), and I really think restaurants should be greatful for our patronage.

                  Like

  30. Like you, I sometimes enjoy eating alone. It gives me a chance to catch up on reading, or social media without being unsocial. Usually it’ll be for lunch at a cafe-style place, so I don’t feel so out of place as many other people seem to do the same. Dinner can definitely feel more awkward, unless it’s a tiny hole in the wall ramen place or similar.
    Funnily enough, I have a friend who *loves* going to eat Korean BBQ on her own here! It’s very rare, but she says she feels such pressure when she goes with a group that she can’t order the pieces of meat she really wants. Her coworkers/friends are usually more senior and she doesn’t want to deal with any potential issues of taking charge too much, or having people look at her funny when she orders offal pieces. On her own she can eat what she likes and *only* things she likes without worry. I’m sure she enjoys it very much!

    Like

    • Interesting to say you feel okay eating alone in cafe-style places. You might remember, a lot of cafes in Australia cater to two or more. Either that or a bench for one who is after a quick drink of drinking-in coffee. I suppose it’s a bit different in other countries like Japan.

      Going to Korean BBQ on her own! That is very rare, don’t think I know anyone who does that. But she’s right. There’s a certain pressure in going to eat with a group. Eating on my own, I can spend about ten minutes taking photos of my food without anyone telling me off 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Hi Mabel
    Its really ok to eat alone, I agree. Just as its already so stressful on a work day, I dont feel more relaxed when I have to be with a bunch of pretentious colleagues. Yeah….eating alone, in a park nearby KLCC with a sandwich and fruit can be a joy…alone

    Like

    • Work days can certain be stressful and eating alone during work lunch hours can certainly be a quiet, relaxing time to ourselves. Hope it’s not too hot or wet to eat outside KLCC these days. Sandwich and fruit – sounds like a healthy combination.

      Like

Share your thoughts. Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s