I’ve always loved food, loved trying new food and loved the communal aspect of having a meal together. But when my anxiety disorder started in 2011, I stopped going to restaurants and in fact, I was too scared to even eat a meal at a table with people – let alone think about eating out alone. It was one of the many things that made me extremely sad and down about my anxiety disorder.
So, as well as wanting to get back into a “normal” eating routine and be able to enjoy a meal with people again and also go back out to restaurants, which I really missed, another goal of mine was to eat out alone.
I’ve always wanted to travel solo or at least go on holiday by myself and whilst I’ve been on a few solo spa trips, which I adore, I’ve never managed to venture further afield.
I love the idea of doing things alone because I enjoy being alone and I enjoy my own company. I spent so long cooped up in one room and also so reliant on everyone else, this need to do things alone just got stronger and stronger.
So eating out alone was added to my list of things I wanted to try and achieve. I thought this was a doable goal which would test me but also be manageable.
I’ve eaten out alone a fair few times now and I absolutely love it. In fact, I’m sitting here writing this post on my own in Starbucks. I have absolutely no qualms about heading out on my own, in fact, sometimes I prefer it. I like the freedom, the peace and quiet and the not having to go by anyone else’s schedule.
And eating out – whether that’s a coffee and a cake, lunch or a full 3 course dinner – I’ve found is an absolutely lovely thing to do alone. But I totally understand why so many people find it extremely daunting. Because it absolutely can be!
I think lots of people have a goal of eating out alone but are too scared to try it, so from one person who never thought she’d live a “normal” life from such a debilitating anxiety disorder, I am here to tell you that you absolutely can do it!
I’m compiled all my best tips in this post for someone who wants to try eating out alone. Yes, it can be daunting but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Here are my 9 tips for eating out alone:
Go somewhere you’re familiar
For your very first foray into eating out alone, it might benefit you to go somewhere that you’re already familiar with. Perhaps a small coffee shop you’ve been to with friends that you know well. This can just take that initial pressure and worry off and allow you to have a really positive first experience of eating out alone.
But if you are looking to try somewhere new and feel brave enough to do so on your solo dining date, then that’s great! Searching for restaurants in Bethany Beach Delaware – or wherever you’re from – will be a good start for finding somewhere suitable.
Start with something less daunting than dinner
You don’t have to go straight in with a 3-course dinner. I think there’s a lot of talk about eating out alone and the “goal” being dinner but that doesn’t have to be the case if you don’t want.
Lunch or breakfast is just as an important meal of the day and can be a nice opportunity to go out and dine alone. You will also find breakfast and lunch crowds aren’t as big and the atmosphere is a bit more chilled.
Pick what you’re going to have before you go
If you’re worried about the choices you’re going to have to make with food when you get there, simply pick what you want before you go! Almost every restaurant has a menu online, so check it out beforehand so you can order straight away and that’s one less thing to worry about, so you can sit back and enjoy your meal.
Ask to sit somewhere out of the way
Obviously some restaurants will have an idea of where they’re going to sit you before you arrive but if it’s fairly busy, why not ask them if you can sit somewhere out of the way because you’re dining alone? Or you might be able to put it on a notes section of your booking when you book your table.
When it’s really daunting to eat out alone, especially if you haven’t done it before, the last thing you want is to be seated right in the middle of the restaurant, so they should be able to accommodate that.
Take a book with you
Any book lover probably does this anyway but if you’re nervous about eating out alone, take a book with you and have a good ol’ reading session whilst you’re enjoying your meal!
When I went for my first solo spa break, I was sitting there reading my book whilst eating my dinner and the waitress actually said how jealous she was that I can just sit there alone and quiet and read my book without interruption – which was really nice to hear!
Cut your food up so you can eat and read / use your phone
If you’ve brough things with you to do like your phone or a book, it’s much easier to manage doing both things at once if your food is already cut up, so you can hold your book/phone with one hand and feed yourself with the other. This is a handy trick I use quite a bit – especially if I’m reading a really good book that I don’t want to put down!
Of course you might want to do the complete opposite and not have any distractions during your meal and just focus on the food, which is fine! But some people need to look like they’re doing something as it makes them feel more comfortable.
Remember that nobody gives a sh*t
But on that note, remember, absolutely nobody gives a sh*t. They really don’t. One of the biggest lessons of 2022 I learned was that nobody really cares and whilst that might sound a bit sad, I find it quite empowering and it’s enabled me to do more than I would have because I remind myself regularly that no-one cares
And the same goes for eating out alone. Nobody cares that you’re alone, in fact, you’re more likely to get people thinking how much they admire you for doing it!
Call someone if you’re nervous
It can be a nerve-wracking thing, eating out alone. Especially for the first time. If you’re halfway through your meal and you get anxious, ring someone to help you calm down and share your worries. You’re not in outer space, so don’t worry, you’re quite okay to use your phone if you really need to.
The only pointer I would make here is that if you’re in a restaurant for dinner, do check that it’s okay to use your phone and don’t talk to loudly, so you’re not disturbing the other diners.
Try and feel a sense of empowerment
And finally, back onto this point of empowerment. Learning to just be in your own company is so empowering. Learning to just get on with your own day and not care what anyone else thinks or what anyone else is doing is absolutely liberating.
Eating out alone can be empowering, whether you’re reading your book, using your phone or just people watching and enjoying your food. Nobody can touch you when you’re in your own little world like that and it’s a feeling you’re going to want to experience again and again!
I just love spending time alone and it’s something I really want to look into doing more and pushing myself out of my comfort zone more with. Perhaps a solo holiday is next on my list? Who knows.
But for anyone who wants to try eating out alone but is too nervous, you absolutely CAN do it! Just start small, start with a coffee and cake and go from there.
There are plenty of wonderful cafés and restaurants to choose from, so you’ll find somewhere that suits you and makes you feel comfortable. It’s a wonderful experience, one that I hope you can experience, even if you are nervous!
Tell me, have you eaten out alone before? Did you enjoy it and what tips would you give? If you’re too scared, what’s stopping you?
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