A Meditation on Lunch, or, Why You Should Eat Alone Sometimes

I work at home. My partner works at a winery in the area, so except for the rare occasion once a month or so when he comes home midday, I eat lunch alone every day.

Lunch is an opportunity to break up the day’s tasks. Usually I try to get a certain amount of editing done in the morning. I’ll work through twenty to thirty pages of a manuscript with all social media blocked.

In the afternoon, I switch into me-time. This is when I work on my own projects. My books, my pitches, reading articles to stay up with the industry.

Lunch is how I transition from one part of the day to the next. From “client time” to “my time.” It’s a happy transition. I love editing, but my passion projects are my projects.

I devote special attention, but not too much time, to crafting my lunches. Never more than a half hour, but usually between 10-20 minutes. I like sandwiches a lot. I’m deeply grateful that I’m not allergic to gluten, because I love me some sourdough. I also love burritos, wraps, tacos, and salads. These are all quick and easy fixes. One knife, a cutting board, five or six ingredients, ten to twenty minutes. Lunch is served.

I don’t shy from decadence. I like to put mayo and butter on my sandwiches.* Sour cream in my burritos. Salt, pepper, chipotle, avocado, heirloom tomato. These give food flavor and character.

When I sit down to eat, there’s no one around to share the meal with me. I purposefully leave my phone on my work table. My computer is elsewhere. There’s no Instagram. No Facebook. No articles to skim or set aside for later. I focus on my meal.

And what a difference it makes!

When it’s just you and your food – food that you’ve crafted to your tastes only, not for anyone else – not your kids, your partner, your parents, your co-workers – and no one’s watching you eat or waiting for you to say something, the word savor takes on a whole new meaning.

Lunch sando
A tempeh and avocado sandwich I made myself a few weeks ago.

Eating becomes a kind of meditation. You take the first bite and think about what you’ve created.

“Mmm,” I say aloud, unafraid of expressing my enthusiasm. I am, after all, alone. “This is fucking good.”

A second bite confirms what I already know. This is fucking good

Then you sit and eat and enjoy it and don’t mind getting food on your face or dripping sauce onto your plate because no one’s there to care.

When you eat by yourself, whether at home or in a crowded restaurant, you notice things you wouldn’t otherwise. Like the remarkable pillowy texture of well-made sourdough. Or the striking vibrancy of an avocado. Or how the hot sauce you used on this burrito is citrus-acidic. Or how the flesh of an apple scrapes against your teeth.

And you get to think while you’re eating, or not think at all, just rest and be quiet and feel, really feel, the sensation of putting food in your mouth and enjoying it.

And the bites go by more quickly and pretty soon the rumbling in your stomach is quiet and you’re licking your lips and wiping the grease from your fingers and smiling contentedly.

Five ingredients. Thirty minutes. And a meditation that brightens the whole day.

Eat one meal per day alone, if you can. In the sunshine, at a picnic table, on the sidewalk, on the stairs. Just sit and eat and enjoy it.

*With the occasional exception of cheese, all ingredients listed are vegan.