I like food (said everybody ever), but more than that, I like choosing the food I eat. One of the best parts of college is the total and complete control we have over our lives, including our diets. Some exercise (or abuse) this newfound freedom with late-night pizza deliveries and all-you-can-eat soft serve at the dining hall. Others gravitate towards Au Bon Pain salads and Whole Foods runs. As they say, you do you. But recently, I decided to sacrifice my liberty of palate and trade diets. It seemed the perfect experiment to spice up a chilly winter break day.
Meet Wynn, my 6’ friend with the metabolism of an Olympic athlete (not quite, but close). His favorite foods are chili, burgers and mashed potatoes. And he volunteered to switch diets with me for a day.
For some contrast – er, context – I’m a 5’6” runner who loves grilled chicken, dark chocolate and apples. My stomach was in for it.
Obviously Wynn needs more calories than I, so we agreed to scale meals to our appetites. But all food consumed, including drinks, had to be coincide with the other’s daily diet. Snacks – popcorn, fruit and water for Wynn; cereal, string cheese, gold fish and chips for me – were available throughout the day.
I served Wynn my go-to breakfast: scrambled egg whites with veggies, a toasted English muffin (sans peanut butter – Wynn is allergic, poor guy), an apple and a glass of skim milk. He prepared three sunny side up eggs, a toasted onion bagel (buttered quite liberally, I might add), apple slices and orange juice for me.
Wynn remarked that he felt quite “clean” following breakfast. I felt, well, not. Out of curiosity, I scanned the orange juice carton’s nutrition label after breakfast. I stopped reading when I got to 24 grams of sugar.
One meal down. Two to go.
Wynn dined on a turkey and honey mustard wrap, complemented by an apple and milk, while I tucked in to a grilled cheese, carrots, an apple, Pringles, milk and, for dessert, ice cream.
Lunch was a struggle. 3 ½ hours wasn’t quite enough recovery time after breakfast for my slightly traumatized stomach. Nevertheless, I ate as instructed, though I can’t say I finished much. Wynn, on the other hand, reported feeling famished and scarfed down his meal before starting on his snacks.
For our final meal, we headed to Panera. Wynn ordered a cranberry turkey Panini, chips and a lemonade for me, while I bought chicken noodle soup and a salad for him. Usually I’d only get one, but Wynn was looking slightly starved.
Before we parted ways—I for a big bowl of veggies, Wynn for an unfinished half-dozen box of donuts—we discussed the day’s meals. I’ll admit, I’ve always considered myself a pretty easy-going person, but diet switching taught me my limits. I truly love having control over my food. A day spent with Wynn’s diet, however, had a few perks. For example, I learned that grilled cheese is the perfect grade school throwback. And calories don’t count if they’re from another person’s food, right?
Wynn, on the other hand, remarked: “My energy levels feel a little low, but my complexion feels clear and my body feels cleansed.”
Clear and cleansed. Well, doesn’t my diet feel flattered.
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