The last thing that I recorded in my weekday mindful eating project was the psychology behind my meals. In particular, I focused on the number of meals I ate alone and the satisfaction rate of those meals. As I mention in my previous two posts both on economics and time, the idea for this project came from Warren Balasco’s book “Food: The Key Concepts“, a great book for students interested in Food Studies to start thinking differently about food.
The actual foods that we consume is just part of a larger food experience. You don’t have to go gourmet in order to have an amazing food experience. Eating with good company can make a meal wonderful. After this week, I came to realize that eating meals alone suck. Now, I recommend that everyone should try to eat at least their main meal of the day with friends and family. Sadly, many colleges students eat alone, probably because we have conflicting schedules with our friends. Also, I noticed that college (here in Texas that is) trains us to be individualist, meaning: I eat what I want, when I want, with who I want. For the benefit of our psychological health, we should take into consideration the meals we eat alone. Granted sometimes meals can be beneficial alone, but not all of them.
So, how many meals did I eat alone?
I ate over half of meals alone, about 65%. For me, eating lunch alone was the most depressing. I assume that is because lunch is my main meal of the day, and I wanted to sit down, relax, eat slow, with the company of a trusted friend or family member. Yet, a relaxing lunch is generally not the case for many college students. I observed several other students eating alone as well. They tried to fill their loneliness gap by entertaining themselves with tech gadgets while eating. Instead of concentrating on the food they are putting into their bodies, they sat there with headphones plugged in, eating mindlessly while trying to figure out how to hold the iPhone and use a fork at the same time. I am not criticizing them, I am just talking about my first year eating at the cafeteria at UT.
Photo source: http://www.heynicepictures.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/l_1429_1200_2BDE44A9-4AC7-4850-B2C7-9678C05142BF.jpeg
A satisfying meal for me can be something as simple as “This burger tastes awesome!” to something a little bit more complex such as the lighting in a restaurant. Yet, the most important rule I have for a satisfying meal is that restaurants and cooks should focus on making one dish really good before adding more. For example if I go to a place called “Extreme Burger” it should focus on making some extremely tasty burgers, burgers and complementing items only. It drives me insane that many restaurants feel pressured to offer a variety of foods just to please the ever picky customers. What does this say about our culture at large? It should make sense by the name of the restaurant or simple menu what I am going to order. With that being said, how many satisfied meals did I have during the school week?
Weekday Total: Satisfied 16, OK 13, Unsatisfied 8. Tend to have more satisfied closer to the weekend. Most of the unsatisfied meals were generally related to how gross my body felt after eating them. The lack of self-discipline to sit down and take the time to focus on my food resulted in several tortilla chips and cheese face stuffing moments on the fly.
It is important to eat meals that satisfy you not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. With a lot of practice, we can control our mindlessly eating in college, firstly by getting rid of distractors such as television and other tech gadgets, secondly by not eating alone, and finally when you go out for lunch try to eat what that restaurant specializes in making. If you can’t figure it out easily (or their speciality is not good) then don’t eat there. Just like studying, eating food requires concentration and techniques to learn.