If eating out is stressful, you’re doing it wrong

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eating out, woman sitting alone

Three or four in the afternoon is a stressful time for me. It means it is getting close to time when my husband will be coming home, and I should stop my work and think about what to fix for supper. Unlike many women, and a growing number of men, I do not like cooking. I know my way around the kitchen and can usually come up with a pretty tasty, creative meal when the mood suits me. But the mood seldom suits me. I prefer eating out.

I never understood how women can work all day, pick up the kids, deal with homework and chores, and then find it relaxing to stand at the stove for an hour or more fixing a meal. I would prefer to pay three times the value of a meal for someone else to cook for me so I can sit at a table, enjoy my food and walk away from the mess. That’s why I was stunned to read the results of a recent poll revealing the most stressful parts of eating in a restaurant.

It’s not what you think

So what is there to stress over when you go out to eat? I can understand if you have anxiety about eating in public or you panic when you are in crowded places. I know it can be stressful to dine out if you have young children or dietary issues. But according to this survey, these are not the reasons why people stress most.

What is then? They don’t know what to order? They are worried about the calories? They are afraid they won’t have enough money to pay for the meal?

Nope. None of these is the number one reason why people stress about eating out. That honor goes to this: They can’t decide what to wear.

Appropriate attire for eating out

According to this report, 65% of people who eat out allow their choice of clothing to “overwhelm” them. Now this instantly made me question the veracity of the survey to begin with, but it also made me think about how easy this choice can be. For example, this is how I choose my wardrobe for a night at a restaurant:

Italian food: Wear dark clothes to hide the stains from spaghetti sauce and red wine.

Chinese food: Wear the stretchy pants because a plate of bite-sized sushi is just an appetizer for me.

Mexican: Wear the mumu because I’m going to eat about six baskets of chips and salsa before I even order the large seafood chimichanga with extra refried beans and a side of burritos.

If it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, just wrap a tablecloth around me. I will not apologize.

What’s the problem?

Apparently more than half of restaurant diners surveyed struggle to choose the perfect outfit, trying on more than half the clothes in their closet before choosing something that would a.) stand up in comparison with what their fashionable friends are wearing, and b.) won’t be a disaster if they happen to spill wine or coffee on it. They even called their friends for advice.

Deciding what to wear is more difficult than deciding what to order from the menu. So difficult, in fact, that 25% of those who responded to the survey experienced times when they decided not to go out after all because they couldn’t pick what to wear.

Sound fishy to you, too?

Turns out this survey was courtesy of a Nordstrom company that offers personal stylist services. The company released the results as some kind of news item. I assume the point was to make us feel so insecure with our clothing choices when we go out in public that we would require the services of a personal stylist to avoid sitting on the edges of our beds and weeping helplessly into our closets.

Nice try, Nordstrom. But I’ve been dressing myself since I was three, and no survey will make me stress over something as delightful and relaxing as eating out at a restaurant.

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