Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Can a graduate student have a healthy diet?

We have a little science experiment going on at my house right now.  It’s a simple enough experiment, the question of interest is: can a graduate student have a healthy (and satisfying) diet?  (or alternatively - Can I kick the top ramen habit cold turkey?)

A few definitions:

 "Healthy diet" - for the purpose of this experiment a healthy diet will consist of whole food products prepared mostly at home (so I can be assured of the ingredients) most of the diet consisting of plants and limiting meat consumption to a side dish status.

"Satisfying" - for the purpose of this experiment I will rate how satisfying this diet is by how easy it is to ignore the grilled cheeseburger smell emanating from the fast food joint I ride past each day.

I never thought it was possible for someone like me (limited budget and over booked schedule) to change my western ways and reject the convenience culture.  I do little things, like shop at the local natural foods store and the farmers market, and I've been raising my own garden since I was 19 years old, but I've never before actively tried to alter my way of eating.  

Attempting to do so while I'm a graduate student seemed like a very dumb idea at first. Economics being what they are this really started as an endeavor to save money, and one of the best ways I've found to do this is buy whole foods and cook from scratch.  Funny enough this is way healthier that eating top ramen everyday, and fits nicely with goals of producing (or foraging for) your own food or buying it locally.  Doing this eliminates processed foods and "food-like-products" from your diet and saves a ton of money in the long run.

This is week two of the experiment, and surprisingly it hasn’t been hard to stick to.  I haven’t had to commit any extra time to cooking or eating, just a little forethought.  I’m much more satisfied after eating, and I haven’t been craving processed foods.  The ease of this type of eating has been a real delight, and actually makes me think that changing my food culture (because that is what I feel I'm doing with this experiment) may be possible.

As an after thought…….

A few good food related things I’ve been reading lately

(I'm sort of always reading this, when I finish, I just start it again.  Yes, it's that good.)

(An unusual book, but well written, scientific and short.  Worth getting from the library.)

(Michael Pollan is always good, not so scientific in this one.  But more logical than any diet, nutrition, or lifestyle book I've ever browsed.  And a good motivator if that's what you need.)

(A short and fascinating article by the widely read Jared Diamond.  This was assigned reading for a biotech class, and I throughly enjoyed it.  I thought it complimented my other current books well, especially "In Defense of Food".)

No comments: