Forever Alone (When Eating): The Facts

In America and many other cultures, eating alone has long been a social taboo. But that's changing, according to new research by the Hartman Group, a market research firm. Full story: http://n.pr/1Wn53aX
  1. 46 percent of adult eating occasions are undertaken alone
    That's both meals and snacks.
  2. Solo-eating is buoyed by the shift toward more single-person households
    According to Census Bureau data, the proportion of one-person American households increased from 17 percent in 1970 to 27 percent in 2012. And this has helped usher in a new kind of norm. Why take the time to prepare and sit down to a meal by yourself, when you can just grab-and-go?
  3. “Three square meals a day” is becoming passe
    We eat in our cars, while we walk down the street, and often, at our desks. And in many cases, snacks are replacing the fixed institution of meals.
  4. Dinner is different
    Only 24 percent of dinners are eaten alone, compared to 53 percent of breakfasts and 45 percent of lunches. But these dinners may not look like a Norman Rockwell painting of a family sitting together. Often, we're still tethered to our devices.
  5. But tech can help bridge the gap between lonely eaters
    See: the rise of the South Korean phenomenon known as mukbang, in which viewers pay to watch strangers binge eat over a live video stream during dinnertime. (@elisehu did a great story about it: http://n.pr/1KE3npT)
  6. Eating alone can also have its upsides
    Research has shown that people tend to eat less when dining alone than in large social groups. And in 1937, the food writer M.F.K. Fisher extolled the virtues of solitary meals, suggesting they can be an opportunity for more mindful eating. She pointed out, even royals have given it a try — King Louis XIV of France made it a habit to lunch alone.
  7. Andy Warhol loved it
    "I like eating alone," Warhol once said. "I want to start a chain of restaurants for other people who are like me. ... You get your food and then you take your tray into a booth and watch television." Today, that would be texting, Instagramming or, I dunno, reading a List. Tomorrow? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  8. Eating alone right now? Go to our next List and submit a photo of your solo meal