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viewpoint

Don’t spoil my meal

| Monday, February 8, 2016

It’s a strange feeling when you’re having a meal and realize that the entire conversation is based on the food you’re eating. When the dining hall conversation is good, the food itself doesn’t really come into play. You’re talking about class, work, friends, movies, making plans, basically anything but the same food that we’ve grown so accustomed to and don’t often have a reason to talk about.

Conversation can run low for many reasons. You might be eating with someone you don’t really know as well, or maybe are just not in a conversational mood but feel forced to talk. In any case, you talk about what is right in front of you: the food.

Though always boring, dining hall food banter can be harmless. Simple comments like “the beef looks extra green today” or “water came out of the orange juice spout” can serve as an effective stand-in for real conversation over your meal.

Then there is another class of food-related comments. As you shovel spoonfuls into your mouth: “This is so unhealthy,” “This is going to make me so fat,” “I shouldn’t be eating this” or even “I didn’t eat all day, so I’m getting away with this.”

Being conscious of the food we eat may not be a bad thing, but it doesn’t really help once you’re already eating it.

This kind of talk is much more likely to make your friends uncomfortable. The person eating a huge bowl of pasta might be embarrassed when you complain that the bread on your sandwich has way too many carbs.

Talking this way about your own food can’t be mentally healthy either. The conflict of saying one thing and doing the opposite can make you feel out of control.

There’s no use in feeling guilty if you’re going to eat it either way. Might as well enjoy that special treat.

Using language like “fat” promotes a negative body image.

Maybe you picked a Spinach salad or maybe you picked a cheeseburger. But that’s your prerogative, so own it. Whether or not the food on your tray is healthy, let’s keep the talk surrounding it healthy.

Kelly McGarry is a scene writer. Contact her at kmcgarry@nd.edu 

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