There’s a bit of a stereotype about us RPG players. Well, okay, there’s a lot of them, but, specifically, I’m talking about the ones about us and food. We tend to be overweight. We love Doritos, Cheetos, and Mountain Dew. We live on Coke & M&Ms. Well, actually, that one is true about my friend Doc, but otherwise…
This stereotype is so prevalent that it even finds its way into humor about gaming, like the song D&D by Stephen Lynch and the Dead Alewives audio sketches about the game. It’s funny; I actually don’t even like Doritos all that much, and I can’t tell you the last time I had Mountain Dew. I am overweight, but I’m taking steps, via Weight Watchers, in losing this extra tire. Well, okay, my extra tire came from a monster truck, but still!
With food on my mind, I thought this was a good time to tackle the subject of alternative gaming snacks. So put down the potato chips and read on.
Why Junk Food?
First off, why do we eat junky foods during games? Well, many habits are those that we picked up early on and simply continue to enforce on ourselves. A lot of people, myself included, started gaming in their younger years, and games may have afforded a chance to snack on things that wasn’t always available at other times.
When I was a kid, I mostly ate healthy snacks at home. Games and summer camp were two of the only times I got to eat chips, drink non-diet soda, and so on. If my example isn’t unique, others were probably in the same situation, leading to a gamer population that fits our stereotype.
Even as an adult, until I really started paying attention recently, I ate junk food during games. It would not be unheard of for me to drink an entire 2-liter of soda during a game (hey…DMing is thirsty work! And at least it was diet.) And I shudder to think how many bags of chips, cookies, candy, and so on has been consumed around my gaming table.
But how to we fight this? Well, read on.
To borrow one of the core concepts of Weight Watchers, the most effective way to tackle eating more healthily is to figure out your habits, consciously change them, and then reinforce the good new habits. Diets don’t work; the reason Weight Watchers works is that it’s not a diet. And the way changing our eating habits begins is to figure out why we have them.
Do you snack at games because you’re hungry? If your game takes place at or after your dinner time, and you don’t eat dinner because you have a game to play or run, then you’re asking for it.
Do you snack at games as a kind of splurge, the way I did? This can be a powerful motivator.
Do you snack because the food is there? It’s as valid a habit as any other, honestly.
Change of Hobbit
Once you’ve figured out what your habits are, the next step is to make a change to them and stick with it.
If you snack because you’re hungry, the best solution is to make sure you eat before you game. You could make it a point to get your players together before the game and share a meal. Make something that the whole group can share, like a big casserole or a slow cooker meal. You can make something healthier than random snacks and give everyone more time to socialize.
If you snack as a splurge or just because the food is there, try to channel things in a healthier direction. Rather than chips, have something at your game that’s healthier. Cheese (usually low-fat), celery, fresh fruit, and nuts or trail mix tend to show up on our table far more often than chips or cookies these days.
Alternately, you can change your splurging habits. I often forgo snacks on game night, but, once a week, we go out and have a nice dinner. Weight Watchers gives bonus points to use every week. I’d rather use them to sit down to a steak than use them for cookies on game night.
Counting calories (or points) is always more difficult when you’re away from home. I’m going to be at PAX East (in fact, when you read this, I might very well be there!), and I have no intention of letting all my hard work go down the drain.
Cataloging what you eat is a big part of Weight Watchers. It forces you to think about what you’re putting in your mouth, especially in comparison to how much you’re supposed to eat over the course of the day. I carry my iPad with me everywhere, and I have an app on it to keep track of what I’m eating and its Weight Watchers points.
Something else I do on a regular basis when I go into work is to brown bag my lunch. While I’m not planning on bringing lunch with me, I will definitely be bringing snacks in the form of little individually packaged cookies, chips, and so on. I do this when I’m working in the office, and it lets me enjoy a snack without blowing what I can eat over the course of the day.
Do you have anything you like to eat when you’re gaming that goes outside of the norm? Do you have a good eating habit to suggest? A favorite recipe for feeding your gaming buddies? Share with us.