Do you like to eat? And more importantly, what do you look like when you eat? Personally, I resemble something of a three-day-starved wolf. If there’s one thing my friends know about me, it is that I am a fast eater. I’ll devour my meals in mere seconds while others are still formulating a plan of attack for their dish. 

Unfortunately for me, when eating with others, it seems that social norms dictate that I don’t significantly outpace those at the table. For a while now, I have been trying to consciously eat slower, but it hasn’t been a linear progress. Habits, I’ve learned, are quite hard to break. 

Eating is a largely social experience. Of course, it is possible to eat alone, but I’d wager most of our social gatherings are centered around eating together. When I catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while, it’s often over a meal. The friends I do see often? That’s right—I also go out with them to grab food. It’s not uncommon for my weekend plans to revolve around what I’m going to eat with who. 

The amount I spend on eating out is shameful, but it’s hard to find a social activity without doing so because it is so ubiquitous and uncontroversial. The question is usually what to eat, never whether to eat or not. 

While to some, eating out is a bore, for others it becomes an obsession. Every hobby has its own subculture, and eating is no different. I used to only consider dinner reservations for special occasions because I didn’t know any better. 

Now, things have changed. 

Dinner reservations have turned into an online competition against strangers to secure a spot for a meal. A few-second delay in refreshing the website could mean places instantly booked out—a catastrophe. 

I’m not sure when my attitude towards eating shifted so much, but I do know that social media has not helped. Many of my Youtube suggestions and TikTok “For You” page showcase food content, and, in turn, I find myself emulating this behavior in my own personal social media. At one point in time, I considered myself to be a food critic, posting smug reviews on Yelp. The more content related to food I consumed, I found myself ever more striving for better food and dining experience.

The verdict? I am what I eat. 

I still eat faster than most people I know. More than the physical speed of eating food, lately I’ve been slowing down in my attitudes towards eating. I’ve eased a bit on the reviews and I am less adamant about finding the perfect dining experience. I will still chat with my manager about underrated food spots in our neighborhood, and I’ll admit I did share a photo of an amazing breakfast sandwich I had this past weekend. (It garnered a decent amount of engagement that gave me an instant serotonin boost.) However, maybe it’s time for me to start thinking less about what I’m eating with whom and rather with whom I’m eating what.

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