My First Week of Eating Like it Matters
Written by Travis Nice on January 8, 2021
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I’ve been fortunate enough to take some time away from my day job over the Christmas and New Year break, and catch up on my reading and thinking. My train of thought has naturally taken me towards the subject of what to eat.
I’ve never been one to plan ahead with respect to menus, or do any meal prepping of any substance. My usual process is to go shopping once every few days and make a single large recipe that serves four or maybe six meals (I live alone), and eat leftovers for the next few nights. Sometimes I will make something that travels well, so I take that to work with me for lunch. Usually I like to buy lunch. It’s my break away from the office, from the emails and phones, and I can spend an hour on my own to recharge for the afternoon.
Most days, I tend to skip breakfast; I am not a morning person and I just don’t feel hungry until later in the day. I don’t usually feel the first growls of an empty stomach until around eleven which is close enough to lunch to ignore. There is the exception of weekends, when I can take my time, and make a relaxed breakfast/brunch around nine or ten, and really take the time to savour it. Of course, I go overboard and that fills me up for the rest of the day, so I skip lunch and I don’t eat until dinner. I think it’s safe to say that I eat only two large meals in a day, and rarely do I snack in between.
With that two meal pattern established, what do I eat now? I know I need to increase my intake of fruit, so I mentally noted that I need to put that into my menu. I’m looking at making two-thirds of my meals with whole grains of some type, rice, corn, barley, wheat, etc. And I feel like I’m pretty good with vegetables already, so no changes there other than choosing what vegetables go well in what dish. I love dairy, and the reference diet I’m following allows for more than I expected, so I can get my grains with breakfast cereal and milk, I can mix my fruit with yoghurt, and flavour my dishes with cheese. So far so good …
Having the time away from work, I thought that I would get adventurous and try making something a little more complex than usual. I have plenty of recipe books at home, and found something I never noticed before. They centre around animal products. Any vegetable dishes are made as a side for some other main course. After thinking about it, it now makes sense to me, we love meat in the Western World, and it is a very portable source of protein.
Our world has grown into a world that eats meat. And that is why we have to Eat Like it Matters today.
During the week while I had time on my hands, I tried making one of the more adventurous dishes to see how I could thin it out and spread it across the week. I made Chicken in Plum Sauce, served with steamed rice. I used one kilogram of chicken which is the upper end of the limit for animal protein for one week. It only lasted me a few days, it was so good I demolished enough to feed four people in three meals. That in itself is not unusual for me; what is unusual is my awareness of how much I eat in one sitting. I didn’t measure it accurately, but I would say I served that dish with two cups of dry rice, which when steamed would make close to six cups of steamed rice. Looking at the plates, it was a good ratio of one-third animal protein, and two-thirds grain. It really made me sit up and think of what recipes to explore next.
I had a better time with other meals. Getting my grains is quite easy because I love to eat breakfast cereal. During the week I purchased a one kilogram box of Weet-Bix, and some easy to prepare fruits, i.e. things i didn’t have to peel, cut, and deseed. I ate usually three Weet-Bix (I have this weird thing where I have to eat them in multiples of three because they are packed twelve to the row), and added a banana, a handful of strawberries, and a handful of raspberries. I don’t know if they were in season or just cheap imports, but they were cheap in the supermarket so I went with what I thought was a bargain.
Now, I’m a fairly lazy person in the kitchen, so I prefer to cook as little as I can. I may have served myself the above Weet-Bix combination for more meals than just breakfast, so I’m sure that I got my fair share of fruit and grains. It’s also made me realise that I should measure things more precisely, because as I write this, I realise how much I’m leaving to simple anecdotes about what I eat and not actually seeing what, if anything, I have changed.
I intend to prepare a table of the reference diet, like I replicated in the previous post, and see if I remain within the recommended ranges. I’m genuinely interested to compare how well I actually fit into the ranges to where I think I fit into the ranges.
All-up, I don’t think that much has changed, especially considering how much I thought would change. Next week I return to my day-job, and I’m eager to see how hard it is to change my lunch-time habits. I work in an industrialised area so a healthy salad is simply not on the local snack-bar’s menu. There are plenty of other options around a twenty-minute drive away, which is a whole other kettle of fish.
I’ll keep you posted.