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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Eat alone; eat better

Grace Kerfoot
Food columnist Grace Kerfoot gives tips on how to make eating alone fun. Photo credit: John Domogma

When it comes to dining solo, we all have expectations.

By its name, dinner for one certainly sounds endearing. I imagine a small intimate breakfast nook, a warm rustic meal with some sort of braised meat, a dimly lit candle and Edith Piaf serenading me sweetly in the background.

Solitude at its finest.

Indeed it is all very romantic. But it is hardly a reality.

Let’s talk about what dinner for one actually looks like: food thrown together in the delirium of hunger and consumed mindlessly while scrolling Facebook and Instagram feeds. Bowls and plates scraped clean but oddly still feeling hungry.

We’ve all been there.

Eating alone doesn’t have to be complete kitchen carnage with a lingering taste of loneliness. It can be just as pleasurable as eating with friends. With minimal effort and good intentions, you can transition from eating by yourself to eating for and with yourself. Try some of the following tips the next time you dine alone.

Disconnect: First things first, put away attractive distractions such as laptops, textbooks and iPhones. Distracted eating habits tend to lead to overeating habits. Unplug yourself from your screen and take a look at what you are eating. Note how it tastes and smells, and think about your actual hunger level. Often times, these feelings and explorations are ignored when we direct our senses elsewhere. Take a moment to simply focus on food.

Treat yourself: Eating alone doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. Instead of having to prepare a large meal for more mouths, take advantage of mixing and matching to create exactly what you are in the mood for.

Keep some colorful and flavorful ingredients on hand in your kitchen to round out any simple dish. Fresh chèvre (goat cheese), avocado, a squeeze of lemon, Sriracha, and spice and seed blends such as za’atar and dukhah add a great visual and flavor punch. Look for dukkah the next time you are at Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious on almost anything.

Cook with purpose: When you do find the time to cook dinner, put your heart into it. Cooking is both an art and a tradition. It makes us human. Good food takes time, work and conscious intent to produce. Give back to your body by feeding it well. You may even find it to be therapeutic.

Add ambiance: The environment you choose to eat in is nearly as important as what you choose to eat. If you wouldn’t eat at a restaurant that had food crumbs and junk mail scattered across the tabletop, why would you do so at your own dinner table?

So you see, eating alone can be filling on many levels. It can provide a moment of solitude and creativity for the mind, gratitude for the body and pleasure for the senses.

Make space for yourself and your food. Get comfortable, light a candle, take a seat at the table and dig in. I guarantee you will have a more satisfying meal.

Grace Kerfoot can be reached at [email protected] or @gracekerf on Twitter.

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