Think back on your day. How much time did you spend sitting down to eat? Who did you eat with, if anyone at all? What did you eat? Well, if you found yourself eating fast food at some point (Dunkin’ Donuts on 14th Street counts, sorry) or rushing through your meal, you probably aren’t alone. 1 in 4 Americans eat fast food at least once per day, and 20% of all American meals are eaten in the car. The health aspect of how Americans eat is also relevant, but the issue here is that we don’t take the chance to sit down and enjoy a meal without thinking about the next thing we have to rush to. Rather than taking a real lunch break, we eat on the go, eat while doing our homework, eat while walking to class and so on.
Maybe we eat on the go out of necessity. Our schedules are demanding between classes, work, sports, clubs and, oh, a social life if time is available. There’s no time to sit down and enjoy a meal, or – now this is really crazy – take the time to buy groceries and cook a meal. WHAT. What are groceries? Yeah, before this year, I didn’t really know either.
We have become so engrossed in the demanding expectations we set for ourselves that productivity trumps our social lives. When we leave elementary school, we no longer have recess. At least throughout middle and high school we have “lunch time,” but in college, who’s to say we actually take a lunch break? Lunch time becomes opening our laptops to do homework while we scarf down a sandwich. We take food to-go from the dining halls and take it back to our dorm rooms because we know it will be a quicker meal, ensuring we will have more time to do all of our work.
This isn’t just a phenomenon with college students. Not making time to eat together happens in families as well. It seems like there’s no time, and everyone has a different schedule. What follows is a combination TV dinners, reheated leftovers and other quick meals. The Family Dinner Project is a movement that promotes the benefits of taking the time to eat a good meal, laugh and talk with your family. Well, this applies to our friends in college, too. Our friends become our second family, and going out of our way to cook a meal or go out to a restaurant is crucial for the health of not just our bodies, but our social life.
The problem with any change is that escaping our responsibilities and the demands of college life is nearly impossible. I get that. But after having a long meal with family and friends over Thanksgiving, I challenge you to have mini-Thanksgivings throughout the year. Maybe that means trying a fancy recipe or a new ethnic food somewhere in Greenwich Village with some close friends. Whatever it is, take a chance on your GPA and your bank account. We’re all worried about those plummeting, but I think the pros will outweigh the cons on this one.