I’ve been experimenting with food and diet since when with maternal guidance I became an herbivore at age 10, and thus with my limited but passable decade-plus of experience I’ve decided to periodically post “What I’m Eatin'” to keep track of where I’ve been and where I’m heading (as a dietary roadmap of sorts).
As this is the first entry of what will hopefully be a longstanding series, I’ll go into full detail behind my culinary choices.
Note: I claim to know nothing about nutrition; all I have are personal experiences and I recommend nothing to no one. Always be honest with how you feel and monitor objective benchmarks of health.
The Staple Foods
These are the foods I eat pretty much every day without fail, partly because I tend to believe they are nutritious, but mostly because they are cheap and easy (i.e. bachelor chow).
I’ve been guzzling down about a half gallon of OJ per day for a couple years now. I had been on a high fruit diet consisting mostly of bananas and dates, then found dates to be too expensive (not to mention caustic to my teeth) and banana quality to be widely varying in Pennsylvania, so I turned to orange juice when I realized the taste would always be fairly consistent from carton to carton and its price point was favorable for a recent college graduate.
Fresh squeezed is best if oranges are ripe, local, and in season, otherwise I stick with organic pasteurized (no pulp). Lately I’ve been tossing in a teaspoon of pickling salt, which is more pure than table salt, to test a higher sodium intake on myself.
OJ is drank mostly for the simple carbohydrates and because it’s also got vitamins and minerals.
Protip: I used to drink water with lemon upon waking, but the acidity in the lemon combined with the acidity of the OJ I would consume shortly thereafter was a bad combo. Nixing the lemon relieved any indigestion.
Organic pasture eggs scrambled in refined coconut oil helped break my recent year long rendezvous with veganism and have been a mainstay in my diet ever since. I typically start my day with 4 scrambled eggs, seasoned to my liking, washed down with OJ. I’ll also throw back a raw egg or two after a workout, totaling an average of about 5 eggs per day.
I have found pasture eggs to be far superior in quality to any other type of eggs (organic or not) and will bite the bullet to pay a premium on them. I buy local if possible to support local farms while also paying nearly half of what the pasture eggs at a local retailer would cost.
Eggs are good for a bunch of different vitamins and some minerals. I tend not to worry about the cholesterol.
For years I considered dairy to be the devil, but the work of Ray Peat convinced me to give it a second chance. This is somewhat of a new addition to my diet, but I’ve been drinking anywhere from a quart to a half gallon of grass fed organic milk per day, drowned in molasses for taste (hat tip Matt Stone).
I’ve mostly been drinking lightly pasteurized cow milk, since it’s most accessible and cheapest for me, but I do have me some raw goat when I can ahold of it. I feel the goat milk is more potent (when raw), but either will do.
Drinking milk has been an easy way to get extra calories in my belly. I’ve preferred whole milk over 2% or skim almost solely for the extra energy, as I’m trying to put on some weight. The taste is also slightly preferable.
It’s quick carbs. Lately I’ve kept a squeeze bottle on hand whenever I work out to slurp on between sets (hat tip Raw Brahs), or throughout the day. Again, I make an effort to purchase fresh, local, and organic if my budget permits.
A ballpark estimate of my honey consumption might be 2-4 tablespoons a day.
I’m lazy, so I just peel and eat one carrot, omitting the salad-ification process, on more days than not. Five-pound bags of organic carrots are cheap, stay fresh in the fridge a while, and taste ok, so I eat ’em.
A low maintenance food with possibly high benefit, if there is one.
My go-to bedtime drink is an anti-stress elixir consisting of 4 tablespoons of this gelatin, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, and 1 cup of hot water. Especially after a tough workout, I can feel the warm liquid pulsate throughout my muscles and deliver the much needed and easily assimilated macronutrients.
Ok… maybe that’s not how the body works, but the drink does have an endothermic and calming effect. Two cups before bed and I sleep like a rock.
I use molasses as a sweetener and calorie booster for my milk. It’s essentially a refined sugar, but is also a surprisingly dense source of several minerals.
The sweet sludge has been included in my daily repertoire for only a couple weeks now, so only time will tell if it sticks around. The taste might wear on me and my digestive tract seems to have a minor amount of difficulty fully digesting it. (Infer from that what you will.)
In the Rotation
These are foods I don’t eat every day, but do often consume at least on a weekly basis.
I treat these filter feeders more as a supplement than a food. They are calorically sparse but loaded with a couple hard-to-get minerals, specifically copper and zinc.
I typically eat the canned ones a couple times a week, though I may pony up and get fresh ones more often, as I question the quality of prepackaged shellfish.
I am honestly a bit wary of corn because of the whole GMO conspiracy, but I enjoy popcorn every now and then as a snack. I buy kernels and pop them myself on the stove in refined coconut oil then top the puffed maize with salt, paprika, and coconut butter.
I’ve heard that chocolate is a good source of magnesium, and that people are often magnesium deficient, so I consume a small amount of this “health food” on most days.
To be frank, I’m mostly eating chocolate chips to boost my caloric intake at this point and am not concerned about my magnesium levels, so I may eliminate them for a more nutritious food and instead have them as a treat on rarer occasion.
Up and Comers
I haven’t extensively experimented with these foods yet, but I may do so in the near future.
I have been on the eye for another cheap and quick source of fruit calories to go along with orange juice, and I think this might be it. I feel it’s better to get your carbs from fruit rather than honey or refined sugars, which are for the most part devoid of vitamins and minerals. The latter are fine though, in my opinion, for topping off your glycogen stores.
I purchased one jar of organic apple sauce last week and ate it as though I had the munchies, even though it didn’t taste that amazing, so I think I might be on to something.
Immediately after I polished off that apple sauce all I could think was how incredible it would have been with a dusting of brown sugar. I also recently stumbled across the idea of adding brown sugar and egg yolk to milk, which I’m jonesing to try in lieu of molasses (hat tip Cliff McCrary).
Needless to say, I’ll be picking up a box brown sugar next time I shop for groceries.
I was graciously donned with a frozen lamb liver, gratis, at the farmer’s market last week. I’ve known for a while that liver is loaded with vitamins and minerals, but it’s such a foreign food to me at the moment and I’m sheepish about touching it.
On Sunday night I hacked off a few small chunks and attempted to swallow them without chewing, to mask the taste, nearly resulting in an untimely death of asphyxiation. Yesterday I chewed with a chaser of molasses milk, which was much less of an adventure.
The taste could have been way worse, and I’ll eventually try to cook it (like a normal person would).
I avoid gluten for the most part, but I’ve heard that if one is to consume bread, sourdough is the safest since its fermentation process neutralizes a lot of the precarious protein. I
kneed to may experiment with it at some point.
Just for Fun
I wouldn’t consider these foods to be mainstays, but I do eat them a couple times or more a month.
Ripe, In-Season Fruit
I am a sucker for good fruit. Mangoes and figs are particularly excellent when ripe. I also enjoy fresh cantaloupe and seeded watermelon.
I do indulge in culinary delights such as margherita pizza, salmon-avocado sushi, and spicy blue corn chips when I have the hankering for them.
On the Chopping Block
These are foods I am currently eating, but may soon eliminate from my diet.
Milk is less expensive and cumbersome to consume. Also I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to parmigiano reggiano, which is supposed to be one of the cleanest and safest cheeses to consume, leaving me with mozzarella as one the few cheeses I find palatable in notable quantities that doesn’t cause a histaminic response.
(I’ve never been big on cheese, aside from that of the jocular variety.)
Dr. Peat is a proponent of caffeinated coffee, and initially I seemed to enjoy it without negative recourse, but I eventually started to develop what I believe was heartburn in due time.
I am not sure if there is a flaw with the way I prepared it (with generous amount of sugar and gelatin) or with what I consumed it with (cheese), but I do not envision myself drinking much coffee in the foreseeable future. I feel fine without it.
I had been consuming a meal of rice and salsa in place of the milk I am now drinking, but I found over time I lost my taste for the rice. It became a chore not only to cook it, but to eat it as well.
I feel rice is a decent caloric source, only I prefer simpler sugars now. They’re easier to prepare and eat in sufficient quantities to meet the energetic demands for my goal of putting on and sustaining muscle mass.
One concession I will make though is that days after I’ve consumed large quantities of rice I’ve had several great cardio sessions.
This is one of the few vitamins I’m consistently lacking in, aside from late February or early March when I’m annihilating a case of ripe mangoes.
The other vitamin I don’t seem to get adequately from my diet is K. Currently I am supplementing with a pill, but will switch to the liquid form once I run out of my current supply and apply it to my skin, rather than ingesting it.
During the winter months vitamin D is more of a concern to me, as there is less sunlight and I am outside much less. I don’t really get a ton of it from my diet aside from that which is in eggs.
I will likely stop vitamin A supplementation if I start eating liver somewhat regularly. It may not even be necessary anyway with adequate amounts of milk and eggs.
Epsom Salt + Baking Soda Bath
This combination is incredible for sore muscles, or relaxing in general. I toss a pound of each into a hot bath and stew for about 15-20 minutes. The magnesium in the epsom salt absorbs through your skin, causing the anti-stress response.
I usually take 1/4 teaspoon once or twice a day (hat tip Danny Roddy). Considering all the eggs I go through anyway, it seems like a no brainer to grind up a batch every now an then.
Anecdotally, I may have cured a case of shin splints I was suffering from last year by supplementing with eggshell calcium.
Peat and Roddy advocate aspirin, so I’ve been taking either one or two 325 mg tablets per day. I haven’t noticed any negative effects (even without dissolving), but do feel ever so slightly mellowed when I take it. I see no reason to stop supplementation.
This is not necessarily a supplement, but I’ve found it beneficial for my skin. I plan to apply it more regularly during the summer months.
I don’t claim to be in amazing shape or have a deep scientific understanding of nutrition, but I have felt good lately, which is what prompted me to write this entry. I know diet is only a small part of well-being, but it is important.
For reference, I am about 5’11”, 165 pounds, fairly active, and this is my most recent photo: