Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Fine Art of Dining Out Alone

Eating alone is so challenging. I'm mostly eating in my room as previously mentioned in my earlier posts, but I'm going out some and it's always a bit of a trial. How it goes depends on what my state of mind is at that time.

When first in the door you have a choice to either be seated in the dining room or at the bar. At the bar is less risky because bartenders are typically easy to talk to. Failing that, other singleton's at the bar are usually open to conversation. The dining room option usually means poor placement, a table near the restrooms, the kitchen walkway, the servers station, or in a generally dark, drafty spot.

I have learned to turn down tables that look uncomfortable and generally undesirable. If I encounter resistance and it's clear that other tables are available I let them know that I will go elsewhere. So far, it's worked every time. If the restaurant is obviously crowded, I usually just take what's offered even if it's not optimal.

I usually take the dining room option unless I'm in a chatty mood. Most of the time by the time dinner rolls around when I'm on business travel, I'm done being sociable so I usually take the dining room option. It also helps that I don't drink if I'm driving at all so it's easy to not sit in the bar.

The next choice you have to make is whether to just sit and enjoy your meal alone with your thoughts or to read a book. Sitting alone and enjoying your meal without the distraction of a book or a phone call can be challenging, especially if you are a person that doesn't like to be alone with your thoughts so a book is a great prop to keep your attention.

I usually end up with the combo option: my book comes out after I order, but is closed once my food arrives. I enjoy good food and have learned to enjoy it without a book in front of my nose. It's also good discipline in terms of managing my eating. As most of us have learned over the years, eating with a distraction leads to mindless overeating.

Next, you have to decide what to eat. If you are a person that is concerned about what people think of you, then order a salad and no dessert. That was my MO until recently. I spent a lot of time worrying about what people thought about my weight and the relationship to what I was eating to what I weighed.

I have learned, and I will be the first to admit that losing a significant amount of weight has helped this, to not worry anymore. I order whatever I feel like eating. Part of that is due to my surgery, since I can only eat small amounts and I'm full for hours afterwords, I tend to choose whatever is piquing my interest at that moment. Tonight it was a Reuban sandwich with waffle fries. I ate about half the sandwich and about a quarter of the fries. While I feel guilty knowing that the food will go in the garbage, I at least don't feel so bad with all that food not going to my butt.

I like eating on my own when I travel, but miss having dinner with Alex and Lucille. I always prefer to eat with people, although when I travel I like it when they are people that are easy to be with instead of people I have to be on my best behavior when I'm dining with them.

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