Eating Experiment No. 1: Preliminary Findings

Eating Experiment No. 1: Preliminary Findings

Eating Experiment No. 1: Preliminary Findings

Outrageous experiments in sensible eating.
Jan. 9 2011 6:49 PM

Eating Experiment No. 1: Preliminary Findings

Goal:
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Ellen Tarlin Ellen Tarlin

Ellen Tarlin is a former Slate copy chief and writer of the "Clean Plate" blog. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston PhoenixBrooklyn Bridge, Bark, and  the RISK storytelling podcast. Follow her on Twitter.

to follow the USDA food pyramid in order to get nutritious food

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in

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Loved: I loved how I felt. My implicit goal for this project is to increase my energy level. I've always been lethargic, but my energy was great this week. I also feel clearer mentally. I am much less at the mercy of my appetite. It was a great relief not to be constantly chasing coffee and chocolate. I love eating home-cooked food. It makes me feel cared for. I also loved all your support and comments. I expected a lot more people yelling at me.

Hated: TOO MUCH LUGGING. I went into this week unprepared. I was out of town last weekend and came home to bare cupboards. This is good because it mimics my real life, but, wow, it makes my days difficult and stressful. Even if I wasn't treating an elbow injury, the combination of lugging my purse, my lunch box, and groceries would have been too much. And thus: TOO MUCH FOOD SHOPPING. I got a grocery delivery Tuesday, went to the supermarket Wednesday, and the produce store Thursday and again today (Sunday). Very poorly organized.

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Learned: Carry a backpack; it's much easier on the elbows and shoulders. Plan ahead. Don't wait until you are ravenous to eat. (I'm thinking following an eating schedule might be better than waiting until I'm hungry.) Eat breakfast. It evens out the blood sugar all day long. It's now possible to get granola that isn't too fatty or sugary. Sprinkle stuff: flax seeds, wheat germ. You can sprinkle these on foods and get the health benefits and not even taste them.

Surprises: Cucumbers are fruit (who knew?). My sense of smell got insanely astute the first few days. I could smell Dunkin' Donuts from a block away (and I don't even like Dunkin' Donuts). While cooking brown rice and ground beef for my dog, which I usually overcook because I get distracted, I could smell when it was time to turn the heat down and turn the stove off. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of support and comments from readers, so I thank you.

Funnies: A co-worker on her way to sit next to me for a meeting changed her mind because she was eating pretzels. Another showed off her Fage yogurt to me. A third asked my advice on how to deal with the messiness of eating fruit at her desk. Friends also enjoyed telling me what junk food they were eating while reading the blog.

Conclusion: I think the problem with diets is they try to make you change too much at once. You change what you eat and how much . It turns out I can be satisfied on healthier foods as long as I don't have to limit them to minuscule diet portions. The USDA Food Pyramid isn't as bad a plan as I expected. It's actually pretty good, though I think the portions are too small, and I chose to be stricter about eating whole-grain products instead of a mix of white and whole grain. I'm not sure about the wisdom of limiting fruits and vegetables either. I think variety is more important that quantity.

Next Up: The second obstacle to sensible eating posts tomorrow.