Dining by yourself used to get you seated with a pitying glance and free refills on your self-consciousness, but America, it seems, has largely gotten over itself on that count: Reservations for one have shot up by some 62% over the past two years, reports OpenTable in an analysis of reservations made online through its service. That suggests less stigma and more focus on "treating yourself to a delicious experience and savoring every bite," says an OpenTable exec. "Solo diners are taking every opportunity to visit top restaurants whenever they get the opportunity." Metro areas seeing the biggest increase, are, in order: Dallas, Miami, Denver, New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Chicago.
Not only is dining alone on the rise, but it might actually be healthier for some of us, reports Medical Daily, citing research out of Cornell University. When eating in a group, we tend to pick up on "pacesetters"—cues from our dining companions as to how much and how quickly we eat. Researchers found that light eaters tend to eat more in groups, while heavy eaters eat less, making solo dining more ideal for the former and group dining better for the latter. Quantity of food or pace aside, eating alone is a good way to get a reboot, a psychologist tells Medical Daily. "I used to call it the Steven Glansberg," one diner tells the New York Daily News, referring to a Superbad character who eats lunch alone every day. "Now I realize how relaxing and enjoyable it is." (Now if only waiters would stop this rude practice.)