It has been a few years since my bootcamp days, and still I have yet to break a bad habit I developed there. Not always, but often, I come to the end of a meal and notice I had eaten in record time. In bootcamp, you are taught to eat as quickly as possible — whether for ‘battlefield conditioning’ or just lack of time during a day’s worth of training.
Many hours lay between one meal and the next, and there is no such thing as snacking (unless you are one of those who slip a few peanut butter packets; a strong bartering item). Most of the day is spent in training and burning calories, so by the time you reach the chow hall you are both famished and in a hurry. You are always in a hurry.
Your place in the chow line is dependent on your height — shortest to tallest. Eventually everyone piles in to eat, each having less time to do so than the person in front of them. The allotted mealtime begins when the last person has taken their seat. How long that time is up to the discretion of the RDCs (Navy drill sergeants). You can imagine how lenient they were on a bad day.
Recruits consume bacon and eggs, salads, sandwiches, and everything else in haste. Nothing is ever truly savored. When eating with shipmates now, there is talk about how that eating habit hasn’t been completely broken; usually following a comment made about a clean plate.
I still consciously remind myself I am not in a hurry and need to slow down; and even if I was, I will have another chance to eat soon.
I have an obvious passion for food, though some may confuse it for a passion for eating. Therefore, while I learned many resourceful skills* in boot camp, fast eating isn’t one I need hold onto. Unless, of course, I go into an eating competition — tacos wouldn’t stand a chance.