Why Living Alone Can Wreak Havoc on Your Diet

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It’s true that living alone is freedom personified: You can leave the bed unmade, the toilet seat up, and if you really feel like it, you can choose to stay in your bed all weekend and order the entirety of the Chinese take-out menu. However, it’s also true that living alone can actually be bad for your health. Put the remote down, slowly step away from Netflix, and heed this dietary warning that could leave you looking for a relationship or a roommate.

Living alone can significantly decrease your chance at maintaining a nutritious diet says new research out of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. The research, which was published in the journal Nutrition Reviewsfound after compiling and analyzing 41 studies that those who live alone are more likely to suffer from poor nutrition due to not only consuming less diversified meals, but eating less healthy alternatives like fruits and vegetables and more ready-made meals, says MedicalDaily. The research also found that men who lived alone had a poorer diet than women who lived alone. The findings held up for people of various ages, socioeconomic status, and all educational levels.

“The research suggests living alone may represent a barrier to healthy eating that is related to the cultural and social roles of food and cooking. For example, a lack of motivation and enjoyment in cooking and/or eating alone often led to people preparing simple or ready-made meals lacking key nutrients,” said Dr. Katherine Hanna, the lead researcher of the study to ScienceDaily. Simply put, it’s the lack of motivation, combined with not having a partner to go food shopping with, poor cooking skills, and the increased cost of food that leads single people to indulge in “simple or ready-made meals lacking key nutrients.” Cooking and eating well can be a lonely feat if you have no one there to compliment you on how good your cooking is.

As it turns out, having another person there to encourage healthy eating is beneficial: “The absence of support or encouragement to comply with healthy eating guidelines and difficulty in managing portion control were also factors influencing diet,” says Dr. Hanna.

If there’s no one around to impress and if you’re eating for one, why go through all the trouble of cooking when you can simply pop something in the microwave. In other words, you can be your own worst enemy if you live alone.

So if you’re living alone, and you’re not the healthiest of eaters what can you do the avoid the unhealthy pitfall of living alone? Dr. Hannah suggests several strategies to ScienceDaily including, “programs that focus on cooking skills for single people on a range of budgets, improved availability of affordable healthy food and developing socially acceptable opportunities for eating in communal settings.” This means you have to get out there and give yourself the opportunity to be social or opt to go for lunch with a friend. You can even start small with easy to make dishes that are tastier then microwavable meals that are high in sodium. In short, you need to make the effort to be healthier when you’re living alone.

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