Hasn't everyone asked this somewhat impolite question at least once while looking at the cafeteria food they have just been served? There is something about the weird color of the meat or the odd texture of the veggies that always seems to make us feel a lot less hungry than before.
It is all part of someone's appetite, that funny little thing that can make you refuse to eat when you're starving or eat lemons just because you are "in the mood."
Unfortunately, I've had this experience all too often. Once in particular, I remember losing my appetite while eating one of my favorite desserts -- lemon meringue pie. My sister and I went to the kitchen for this scrumptious delight while my parents were watching a movie. I noticed the pie had a lot more meringue than normal.
As we sat there eating, we were sucked into an intriguing TV drama on the African safari. On the screen we watched a guy being bit by a poisonous snake. As he reacted to the venom, foam started appearing at his mouth. My stomach flipped and I slowly went through the torture of feeding myself the rest of the strikingly similar foam-topped pie.
As the days passed and my appetite for lemon meringue pie returned, I realized others had probably had interesting experiences just like mine, so it was time to delve into the mysteries of the teenage appetite.
Nix on surgeries
Different things make different teenagers lose their appetite. Topics of conversation, things on TV, or nasty food itself are among the things that can make you have a staring contest with your food. It's anybody's guess who wins.
Kylie Patton, a senior at Roy High School, said she loses her appetite from watching 'Bones' or crime shows while she's eating and she sees "all the blood and gore."
"Things on TV that make me lose my appetite are things like surgeries," said Rachel Frederiksen, a Roy High senior. "I hate when I am watching a show and all of the sudden they are cutting someone open. This usually happens during crime-scene shows."
Marissa Moore, a Northridge sophomore, confirmed one of those conversation topics that we each beg our fellow eaters leave unaddressed: "Talking about bodily functions really doesn't help my appetite at all," she said.
Cole Thomas, a junior from Northridge High School, said throwing up is definitely one of those "bodily functions."
Or Daniel Rubio, a Roy senior, adds "gross topics such as an operation or describing horrible crash sites" hurt his desire for food.
"Joking about snot and boogers" while eating refried beans had quite an effect on the sister of Heather Busy, a junior at Bonneville High.
Haley DeGreen, another Northridge sophomore, has a more unique insight, saying, "The word 'toenails' makes me lose my appetite, or anything about toenails."
Queasy over burritos
When students think of gross-looking and nasty-tasting food, the first things that might come to mind are usually common to a school cafeteria.
Salia Mislang-Darden, a junior at Northridge High, recalls, "In elementary school, we were having the pizza roll for school lunch. I picked it up and saw all the grease that oozed out of it and I immediately lost my appetite. I still don't like pizza rolls."
She said she equally dislikes the orange chicken and rice dish.
Anthony Ware, a Northridge senior, thinks that the bean burritos are disgusting.
Busy says the school food she remembers being worst for her appetite was the hamburgers at her junior high school.
"Me and my friends had a debate over what they were made of because they didn't look or taste like real meat," she said.
But school lunch isn't the only place teenagers find themselves squirming over the food in front of them.
DeGreen, for instance, doesn't enjoy some family dinners as much as others.
"I usually lose my appetite when I eat chicken lasagna. It has mushrooms and spinach ... yuck," she said.
In the end, with all the things that contribute to a teenager's desire to chase their food around a plate, it is good to know that there is also something to get an appetite going again -- cravings. Rubio would recommend rocky road ice cream, cereal, Asian food or a lime rickey.
The Roy senior said he once craved all four at the same time. Now that's a craving! Bon appAfA(c)tit!
TX. correspondents Lynette Randall, Northridge High; Shelby Lou Shelman, Roy High, and Analyse Strate, Bonneville High, contributed to this story.
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Michelle Thurgood is a sophomore at Syracuse High School. She enjoys gymnastics, playing the clarinet and spending time with her family. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.