Food

Valerie Bertinelli discovers eating alone is awesome (and social media agrees)

For many years, the concept of eating in a restaurant alone was viewed as unusual and even a bit taboo.

But modern dining habits have changed — and Valerie Bertinelli might just be the latest convert to sing the praises of enjoying a great meal alone.

On Tuesday, Bertinelli tweeted that she was eating alone at a restaurant in New York City for the very first time ever ... and she loved it!

Many people on Twitter, including food-loving celeb Chrissy Teigen, quickly weighed in with their own feelings about dining without a companion.

So is something that was once considered taboo no longer a no-no? It definitely seems so. In 2014, TODAY reported that about 57 percent of eating and drinking outside the home was done solo, and the statistics have only gone up the last few years.

"In the past, there really has been a stigma around eating alone, and it's started to change over the years," Aaron Allen, a restaurant consultant, told TODAY at the time. "Restaurant chains absolutely need to pay more attention to this as a segment, and the smart ones are and have already made changes to their menus' and restaurants' designs and training."

Other experts agree that it's a good thing the stigma around dining alone is fading because the practice can reap some unexpected benefits — like getting in some quality you-time!

"Dining alone doesn't have to be awkward and uncomfortable and it is becoming more common," Antonia Hall, MA., psychologist, relationship expert, and author of "The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life," told TODAY Food over email. "Whether you're traveling or exploring your own neighborhoods, a little advance research and a self-confident attitude should diminish any discomfort you might feel."

For those who are new to eating solo, Hall suggests researching restaurants ahead of time and choosing one that is more "low-key."

"Choosing one [an eatery] that will be glad to have your business will set you at ease for your solo dining. Some people like to arm themselves with a book," she says. "But people watching can be fun, so feel free to set down the electronics and truly enjoy your meal, surroundings, and your own wonderful company."

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