Tom Smith’s Unhealthy Habits

by Yen-Ling Teresa Ting (Adapted)

Here are some phrasal verbs related to food and eating.  Guess what they mean as you read.


            Tom Smith usually has only 15 minutes to eat at work so he bolts down (1) his lunch.  He doesn’t eat a lot for lunch; he just has a deli sandwich and a coffee.  His wife Sharon, however, loves cooking and she always whip up (2) a wonderful dinner.  That is why Tom is overweight.  He pigs out (3) every evening on a full course dinner – a roast with potatoes, bread and butter, some pasta, and to top it off, (4) a big dessert which Sharon picks up (5) on the way home from school where she is a teacher.  Sharon is quite petite, so it is not a surprise that she only picks at (6) the food she prepares and just gnaws (7) a carrot or some other vegetable while she listens to Tom talk about his day at work.

            For breakfast, Tom sometimes gorges himself (8) on fried eggs, bacon and toast or he warms up (9) the left-overs, and then he leaves for another long and stressful day at work.  This is a bad habit and the doctor told Tom that he should think about cutting back (10) on meat and eggs to bring down (11) his cholesterol.  Actually, John, his brother also has high cholesterol, and he has just begun to cut out (12) meat and eggs from his diet.  Now, he tries to eat only fish and steamed vegetables.  John asked Tom to join him on his diet, but Tom doesn’t want to give up (13) the foods that he loves.  He says he would rather die happy and fat, than live unhappy and thin.


So, what did the phrasal verbs mean?  Try to match up each phrasal verb with its definition.

1.      bolts it down                                 a.   to eat something slowly with little interest

2.      whips up                                        b.   to add something to make it really good

3.      pigs out                                         c.   to eat until you are too full to eat anymore

4.      top it off                                        d.   to reduce, to make it lower

5.      picks up                                         e.   to eat a lot of food

6.      picks at                                          f.   to eat something very fast

7.      gnaws at                                        g.   to keep biting something

8.      gorges himself on                          h.   to reheat the food, usually in a microwave

9.      warms up                                       i.   to buy something while going somewhere

10.  cutting back                                  j.   to stop eating something

11.  bring down                                    k.   to eat less of something

12.  cut out                                           l.   to cook something very quickly

13.  give up                                          m. to stop eating something