Eating Styles

Periodically as an educator, I’ve spent a little bit of time chaperoning a lunchroom filled with teenagers. Aside from their hi-jinks and giggles, I have been very attentive to how a group of 400 people go about organizing, prioritizing, and eating their food. I know this sounds strange, but it helps me keep my focus and my sanity as I patrol. If you think everyone is alike, all you have to do is watch a large group, any large group, any age eat a meal. Everybody does it differently. Everybody has their own eating “quirks”.

In my quest to categorize and label the world of eaters I have found the following subgroups exist:

Desert Firsters– These eaters eat desert or anything sweet first. Doesn’t matter what the main course, they dig into the sugary treats. They go for the surge, and then pick at the rest of the meal. This group does not deny themselves instant and immediate pleasure. No waiting, just do it.

Ketchup Stylists -For the ketchup lover, it’s all about individual style. With French fries for example, did you know some people move their fries off to the side of the plate and then squeeze a “load” of ketchup on a blank part of the plate and proceed to dip and eat? Another group squeezes the ketchup all over the pile of fries and then eats. The third group, which I find the most fascinating (at least in a school cafeteria) opens a packet of ketchup and loads each fry individually with ketchup and eats it. They repeat the process over and over and over again until complete. It’s exhausting to watch:a painstaking process-all for the perfect bite of ketchup with French fry.

Liquidizers-Some people sip liquids slowly during their meal as a “wash-down”; some people drink their liquids first as a “thirst-quencher”; and some people end their meal with a “chug-down” of anything not consumed during.

“Condimentally” Preferred- Some people go with condiments right out the packet or jar; some take packet offerings and mix and match to make their own personal combinations of goodness, like ranch dressing and ketchup (Russian dressing). Some people also eat condiments unconventionally: They drink them straight out of the pack (probably more favored by the 12-13 year old population), they spread them on foods that one wouldn’t think needs extra help (like ranch dressing on pizza), or hot sauce on French fries.

Same Thing Every Day’er–Some people are creatures of food habit. They eat the same lunch every single day. Doesn’t matter. Same. Same. Same. They may not even really like it, but it’s their food habit. Nothing new will change them. One path; one lunch. Period. No discussion.

Sandwich Insiders-This group only eats a few bites of the insides of the sandwich. Take a couple bites. Put it down. On to the other half. Never crust eating. Probably only eat ¼ of sandwich. Seem to enjoy looking at “bite” patterns in sandwich more than the eating.

Drinkers-This group doesn’t like utensils. They tend to “drink” their meals, even if they aren’t liquid. They hold the container up to their mouth and slurp it.

Never Enough “Chocolaters”-If eating coco puffs, this group uses chocolate milk as their liquid. Never enough chocolate. Never. Not kidding.

Never Enough “Dressing’ers”-One packet, two packets, nope-they go for the fat overload. It’s more about the dressing than the salad or sandwich.

No, No to Napkins-Aren’t necessarily neater than anyone else. Just don’t ever choose to use napkins. Don’t resort to finger-licking. Either leave with “foody” fingers or wipe on clothes.

Players-It’s more about a playing experience than an eating experience. Some have rituals with moving food around or playing with it instead or before eating it. Making sure it’s correct on the plate; or just enjoy fooling with it to keep busy.

Talk More than Eaters-Twenty minutes can go by and they haven’t taken a bite. Always talking-and not eating. At least don’t talk with mouth full. Always entertaining. Lunch is more about being social than nutrition. The food in front of them is just a part of the setting.

Eat More than Talkers-Never talk. Only dig into meal. Eat methodically and with purpose. If ask a question, grunt answer.

Traders-Take great pleasure at choosing meal to buy, then trade all parts of meal for something entirely different. For these future Donald Trumps it’s the art of the deal and not lunch.

Two Biters-Doesn’t matter what they are eating or what day it is-take two bites and are full. Never finish; throw more away than eat.

Fingers Only-Regardless of food, never use outside utensils. Always use fingers. Try chili fries with fingers. It’s a good trick.

Would Rather Throw It than Eat It-this one speaks for itself. We all know the type.

Ritualistic Eaters-These people have a distinct ritual for their mealtime. Napkin down as place mat. “Spork” place on the side. Separate food, so it doesn’t touch. Methodically attack meal, same way, every day. No variation, ever.

Food Stealers-Doesn’t matter what they have to eat, they take someone else’s food. Someone can be eating a rotten baloney sandwich and it will be stolen. Everyone else’s food always looks better. Or they’re just meanies.

By now, you’re reminiscing about your school days, and you think you don’t have any of these habits anymore. I beg to differ. You may (I said may) think you are more civilized than you were at 12. Next time you’re in a group eating situation, check out those around you. I guarantee you’ll see that body size may change, but eating styles are probably the same.

Enjoy your lunch and nurture your inner child.


Welcome to my quirky world. As Lazy Susan at I post day to day quirky commentaries. My purpose is to entertain and give you a pleasant moment in your day. I hope you will enjoy my variety of writing and will tell a friend. Thank you for spending your time with me. Life is always better when shared.

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