What do you eat when you’re alone?

Today I came across this article in our newspaper, The State, talking about a book, What We Eat When We Eat Alone by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin.  I haven’t read it yet but would like to, as the foodie/disordered eater/sociology and psychology student in me is very interested. 

I had a short dialogue a couple of weeks ago with a blog buddy about my eating habits when my housemates (aka, parents) were gone.  It’s almost like in Home Alone when Kevin orders a cheese pizza all for himself and makes a giant ice cream sundae and dares his absent family to come stop him.  Almost. 

I don’t think it’s a “rebelling-against-the-rules” thing with me, at least not anymore.  My parents are not my food police.  No one but myself controls what I eat.  Nobody but me (and sometimes blog readers) criticizes what I eat.  But I notice that I do eat differently when I’m alone than I do when people are around.

To me, “eating alone” and “eating while home alone” have different connotations – I eat alone almost all the time.  Mom and Dad are omnivores, and I pass on meat.  Mom sometimes eats whatever I’m making, though other times I’m on my own.   I always eat breakfast and lunch alone, because even when Dad’s off work during the day, he doesn’t eat any meal besides dinner (how is that humanly possible??).  I usually (try to) make a fairly balanced meal for my breakfasts and lunches, and they’re not that big of a deal.

However, the (very few) times I’m home alone for dinner, I make a date night with myself.  I used to do this somewhat often when I had my own place, my own job, my own life…I digress.  I sometimes like to make a presentation out of the meal or get something out of the ordinary.  In the past, I’ve had a new kind of frozen pizza or sushi, or experimented with something I’ve never tried before.  I used to like dressing up fish and chicken breasts with new flavors, and sautéed broccolini with feta cheese was always a favorite “self-date-night” side dish.  I can’t find it anywhere around here, though…I miss my old grocery store. 


 Example A: The bad kind of eating alone – borderline secretive bingeing.  A thin crust pizza eaten a couple of weeks ago when Mom was gone for a couple of days.  I ate the whole thing for dinner.  It wasn’t a huge pizza (about as big as a dinner plate), and it was thin crust, but if Mom had been home, we would’ve split it in half and probably had a salad alongside it.


Example B: Convenience and randomness. Grab-n-go Greek pasta and falafel balls from Earthfare during the same episode when Mom was gone.  This isn’t as “go-hog-wild” as the previous night’s pizza (and look – I added veggies for health’s sake!), but this isn’t something I’d eat when I was with someone (unless that someone was eating it with me, I suppose).  It was a treat because I didn’t have to cook, but it wasn’t bingeing either.

Example C: Mom often does this when she’s had a late meeting and doesn’t feel like making herself a “prepared” dinner; she’ll eat a bowl of cereal.  That’s usually not enough for me, unless I’m just not hungry (which is rarely ever the case). 

Usually I’ll dress up my “alone dinners” with wine or a fun beer because those aren’t everyday things (or they probably shouldn’t be ).  My point is, rarely would I waste a dinner alone on a PB&J sandwich and water.

What’s your “eating alone” style?  Do you have dates with yourself?  Eat PB&J because you don’t have to worry about cooking for anyone else?  Sometimes binge because you’re “off the radar”?

PS – I hope this post makes sense – we’ve got the news blaring about the shooting at Ft. Hood and I’m not good at listening to one thing and thinking about something else.


  1. In the past when I ate alone...I'd devour all the junk food. Now I don't keep that stuff in the house and I eat the same as when going out.

  2. Wow, I'm just responding to this - I suck. I'm the same way - if I have "unallowed" foods in the house, I'll overload on them if nobody else is around. I very rarely have really "bad" things in the house because I just can't trust myself.


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