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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

What to do when you can’t decide on dinner

Indecision in food and life from the point of view of a college senior

By NADIA ANEES — nsanees@ucdavis.edu 

When I ask myself, “What do I eat for dinner tonight?” my internal dialogue goes a bit like this: A chicken shawarma pita from Sam’s sounds really good. I should save money, though. Didn’t I just buy the Trader Joe’s chicken shawarma? If I eat at home I can watch “Gilmore Girls” and avoid people — that sounds nice. Gosh, I wish I was more social. What if I get Sophia’s with my friend? Sitting outside on the deck eating Pad See Ew sounds like a good way to enjoy this evening in Davis.

When trying to decide what to eat for dinner, my mind runs through every possibility. I could turn eating into a social event and bond with someone over food. I could make it a restful activity and eat in the comfort of solitude. I could turn my need to eat into a creative outlet, playing with different textures, colors and flavors to design a meal. I could turn dinner into an adventure and bring a friend with me to the Co-op to find fun ingredients to cook together. There are so many options. Frankly, it overwhelms me.

Now, in my last year of college, making decisions about something as routine as what to eat for dinner carries bigger implications about how I should be spending my time, resources and energy. A couple of years ago, we didn’t have room for exploration. We were stuck inside, staying within our bubble and spraying our groceries down with disinfectant.

Now that we’re back on campus, we have the option to explore almost anything. College has always provided the freedom to make our own choices, and college post-COVID feels like a heightened sense of that freedom. Within a span of two and a half years, we went from few options to many. 

In our post-COVID world as college students, the number of opportunities presented to us about how to spend our time in Davis can be extremely overwhelming, beyond deciding what to eat for dinner.

Even when I’m happily pursuing one choice, I find myself wishing and wondering about the other activities I could be doing. I might be enjoying a coffee and burrito at the Philz in downtown Davis while also wishing to be sitting with friends at the quad, or studying in the reading room in Shields or even getting in a workout at the ARC.

So how do you decide what to eat for dinner (or decide anything for that matter)? I remind myself that no decision can be perfect. You will never have as much information as you need before choosing to do something. What I have learned is that my mindset can help improve my experience, whatever it is I decide to do. 

I can tell myself that enjoyment can happen wherever I am. I can remind myself that even though it is my last year of college at UC Davis, there is infinite time and room for good meals, among other things, to happen.

Written by: Nadia Anees — nsanees@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.