Food preferences and choices are swayed by countless factors: upbringing, culture, ethnicity, age, religion, gender, physical activity, allergens, intolerances, sensitivities, social climate, the environment, and many, many, many more. With that being said, on a daily basis, every “normal” person doesn’t really think twice about his or her foods. They eat whatever’s around and whatever sounds tasty. However, for someone with a background in health or fitness, there are more variables that dictate what to eat.
From what I’ve seen for most of these “I Ate Whatever I Wanted For a Whole Day” documentations, the people classify these as cheat days where they eat nothing but fast food, candy, sweets, all that jazz. Personally, I initially believed that if I were to tackle on this challenge, I wouldn’t have a cheat day. Sure, I’d probably have more treats than I usually would, but my full day of eating wouldn’t just consist of donuts, pizza, French fries, and ice cream. Obviously, I would throw in a salad and sweet potatoes with some treats. At the same time, I did want to test out a hypothesis: the average person doesn’t really eat whatever he or she wants.
With that in mind, I decided to try it myself. I was curious to see whether or not my meals would look crazily different than what I eat on the regular.
- Focus primarily on sensory qualities (taste, appearance, smell, texture, even sounds–who doesn’t love a good crunch?).
- Don’t worry about set eating times, time windows, or meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.).
- Don’t think about calories, macros, micros, or any form of nutrition whatsoever.
- Stop when you are physically and mentally satisfied–do not undereat or overeat.
- Refrain from thinking about cost and proximity. Still, be reasonable.
WHAT I ATE
- Pre-workout: five pitted Medjool dates
- Post-workout: a vegan applesauce brownie using Lakanto’s brownie mix with freeze-dried strawberries
- Pre-work snack: Tender Greens’s vegan peanut butter brownie
- Lunch: plain kale salad with a full bag of iGreeen peppered SoySteak jerky
- Dessert: two scoops of (each) Halo Top dairy free cookie dough (topped with Oreos) and chocolate ice cream (topped with blueberries)
- Random sample of bread from Eataly at the mall I work at
- Snacks: another pitted Medjool date
- Dinner (?): two bowls of cereal–first with Kix and rice chex dusted with cinnamon; second with just Kix
- My sister baked some dates with almonds, so I decided to try one!
- Dessert (post-dinner): a coconut blackberry cake from Golden Mean Vegan Cafe–delicious, but expensive!
Experimenting with this style of eating was extremely enjoyable. Basically, I ate gloriously delicious food that sustained my energy throughout the day. Never did I ever feel too stuffed or hungry, plus my general mood and stamina remained consistent. While my decisions may look a little more processed and refined, I felt amazing and nourished, given that the packaged foods (cereal, jerky, Halo Top, and the Lakanto brownie) I ate were fortified with nutrients. Never did I ever regret a single bite, either, which is absolutely crucial.
Truth is, my full day of eating did not look too different other than the extra foods that were more calorie dense such as the Medjool dates, soy jerky, peanut butter brownie, and coconut blackberry cake. It was a nice refresher to see that!
Many times, I felt incredibly uncertain and doubtful of my food choices. Who eats a brownie before work? Who eats cereal for dinner? Additionally, the coconut blackberry cake required me to drive all the way down to Santa Monica where I had to park my car, visit the cafe, and analyze the price, all of which are extremely inconvenient for me when I could have easily whipped up dessert at home–but I truly didn’t want to. Questions of all kinds (Is this worth the money? Should I finish everything? What if I feel sick after eating this? What are the consequences of passing on this opportunity to try something new?) popped up in my head, including the nutritional calculator that sometimes pushed me to record how much protein, fiber, carbohydrates, sugars, and fats were being consumed throughout the day.
Medical conditions could be at risk. Those with intolerances and allergies should still steer clear from anything they cannot consume no matter how tantalizing the subject (sorry, Celiacs. No sourdough bread for you). Eating disorder patients and many others may find this experiment triggering, as suddenly breaking all barriers seems too extreme for them. If anything, allowing oneself a “forbidden food” could easily to binging, purging, guilt, panic, and emotional distress. Thus, I do not recommend this challenge to everyone.
Truth of a matter is, most of us don’t eat what we truly desire. The most common reasons that hinder us from consuming our 100% truthful beloveds boil down to this:
- Convenience (packaging, cost, distance)
- Nutrition (health benefits/downsides, personal fitness goals)
- Environment (social and familial influence)
- Emotions (too sad to eat more, too stressed to eat less)
- Taste (hey, some of us just don’t like the taste of Brussels sprouts)
Individuals on a weight loss journey definitely encounter times where they’ll be consuming a salad but mentally would rather indulge in a burger or helping of deep-fried Oreos. Most of us contemplate if we should or shouldn’t go for seconds because we automatically set a bar on how much food seems reasonable. Additionally, we could all use a warm home-cooked dinner than another takeout order. While it makes no sense to consume over 8,000 calories worth of junk food a day, we all push ourselves to eat a little healthier or unhealthier than we initially desire to (at least to some degree).
Ultimately, the food that you consume has to cater towards your physical needs and goals, but it also has to fulfill you on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level, even if that means indulging in some extra sugar or a bit less protein. Still, keep in mind that we all need to practice some sense of logic when it comes to catering our diet towards our lifestyle, not the other way around. After all, we eat to live and we were not born to think about food all the time.