This past week was what I would regard as a “dietary fail.” Generally I am careful about what I eat: I tend to maintain a high-protein diet, salads, berries and whole grains. I avoid fast food, soda/sweets/sugar, favoring water or tea as my beverage of choice (& the occasional coffee), and dark unsweetened chocolate is my dessert. Yet this past Tuesday night, after a 16-hour day of work, my wife and I were in a McDonald’s drive-thru & I ordered a 10-piece Chicken Selects and French fries. About 20 minutes later, it had all been obliterated. Over the next 2 hours I felt the classic McSide Effect syndrome in the form of nausea and an overwhelming sense that I had just pummeled my poor, tired tummy with cholesterol-coated quasi-meat and salt-engorged carbohydrate.
Two nights later - Thursday - I was in LA and was up late writing a report (this after waking at 430am, taking a 5-hour plane ride, and working another 8 hours on top of that). Without so much as a thought, I plowed through all 3 bags of potato chips, a bag of M&Ms, and all of the trail mix that the hotel mini-bar would offer. And a Coke Zero as well (as if it would somehow be a counterbalance to my junk food feast). Yikes. About two hours later (11:30pm) I was running on the treadmill drearily trying to do penance for my gastronomical transgressions. I thought I might be able to sweat my indulgences away, but ended up walking the last half-mile feeling like I was trying to digest a mound of salty, sugary sin. I can’t comprehend how people must feel when they eat like this on a regular basis.
Yes, my characterizations are dramatic. But as I walked that last half-mile on the treadmill, I reckoned that when I am hungry or tired or stressed I make downright poor decisions about what I eat. I decided at that moment to start thinking more strategically & start planning my meals for the next day. What an incredibly novel concept, I thought to myself (facetiously). When I got back up to my hotel room, I decided that I was not going to fall off the wagon the next day. I e-mailed the facility where I would be doing research and had them pre-order an egg-white omelet and turkey sausage so that it would be there when I arrived at around 715a. I had them order me a bowl of fresh berries, and asked them to put out some almonds as a mid-morning snack. I requested that they remove the jars of M&M’s that seem to be omnipresent in marketing research viewing rooms. And for lunch, they got me an Asian chicken salad. I also managed to get in 50 push-ups between my interviews with physicians (the medical topic we’re looking at this week is non-resectable hepatocellular carcinoma – not an optimistic subject matter).
Anyway, what I learned is that I need to do a better job of meal planning. While I can’t read anyone else’s mind, I would suspect that most people don’t think much in advance about the next day’s meals – or even their next meal. Women probably do, but guys probably don’t. I typically don’t. But it’s something that I plan to do a better job of going forward – at the very least to avoid the immense feeling of self-loathing & disgust that inevitably accompanies one of these junk binges. As one of my favorite clients likes to say, in a faux German accent, discipline! (pronounced dee-cee-pleen!)