I have a love/hate relationship with food. Basically, I love food so I eat until I hate myself. As a result, I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I also have plenty of other health issues: back injuries, foot injuries, insomnia, depression, allergies, headaches, hernias, etc. Many of these are likely related to my weight, and together, they’ve provided me with chronic pain for decades. I honestly have no idea what it feels like to not be in pain.
Over the years, I’ve had varying degrees of success with different approaches to weight loss. Most recently, I spent 18 months on Weight Watchers. WW was pretty effective, and I lost quite a bit of weight. It was very expensive and time-consuming, but it was working. After about a year, though, things started to plateau. Instead of losing weight, I was just getting more and more lethargic. I couldn’t maintain my energy levels anymore, which made exercise nearly impossible. For the last six months I was on WW, I gained about ten pounds and felt terrible, so I quit.
Now with two small children in the house, I’m finding it harder and harder to incorporate exercise into my daily life. I take a yoga class once a week, most weeks. I was walking pretty regularly, taking the kids out to the park, that sort of thing, but rarely did I get my heart rate up for any extended period. At best, I was getting just enough exercise to maintain.
I got myself a Nordic Track with the absolute best intentions of getting up early in the mornings and putting in some time on it. Seriously. Then, the day after I got it set up in the basement, we had to empty the attic for roof repairs following the big storm in June. Now, my Nordic Track is completely surrounded by boxes of crap that haven’t been opened since we moved into this house.
All of this is a long-winded way to say I’m at my wits’ end. To date, I have not found a combination of diet and exercise that works for me. I’m still gaining weight, and I still feel terrible all the time. It’s time to try something totally new.
I had an idea many years ago for People Food. Basically, something like pet food with complete nutrition for humans, and one could simply adjust the quantity for their own personal caloric needs. I wasn’t the first to come up with the idea, but now food science is getting pretty good at it. Enter Soylent.
See, a whole bunch of people had the same idea, and started discussing it on the internet. They started their own recipes, sharing tips, and comparing notes. Some started calling it soylent, after Soylent Green. Others went with Bachelor Chow after Futurama. Whatever you call it, it comes down to the same thing: all your basic nutritional needs with as little extra as possible.
A couple other guys had the same idea, but they went to college, got fancy degrees, and started making it for real. They had an insanely successful crowd-sourcing campaign, and are about to start manufacturing this product. They’ve also teamed up with the homebrewers to share refined recipes to make at home. Now there’s a website to help you create your own recipe. So I did.
ABC (Andy’s Bachelor Chow)
My target is 1900 calories a day. My recipe is tweaked to be slightly higher in protein and slightly lower in fat than the US Government recommendations. 1900 calories is probably a little light for a guy my size, and I may need to bump that up as I go. Or, I may just decide to eat a banana every morning or something.
Now, I’m committing to this for two weeks. I’m separating my biological need for fuel from the pleasure I get from eating. Essentially, I’m giving up food.
I don’t expect to never eat again; this isn’t like quitting smoking. But, I’m hoping to get a grip on my body’s needs and get portion sizes under control. Instead of asking myself how much of something is OK to eat, I can now simply have none. If I do this for a couple weeks, I hope to have a better idea of how much is enough. If it works well, I can continue it several days a week.
I have some concerns with this approach, and I’m hoping to remain flexible enough to adjust as needed while staying firm enough to stick to it. For one thing, I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee lately, and I anticipate some serious caffeine withdrawal over the first few days. I may add a few calories the first few days for a cup of coffee to help ease that transition.
Anyway, today is day one. I just finished a big glass of ABC for breakfast. It was… different.
The flavor wasn’t too bad. Mostly, I could taste the corn. It was saltier than I expected. The texture was a bit rough, but I think a finer oat flour (or more blending) would help that. I think I’ll add cinnamon to the next batch, and a bit more water to make it a little thinner. I’d also considering changing the recipe a little to add some milk, which might improve the taste and texture quite a bit. I’ll probably wait on that, though.
If I end up doing this longer term, I think I should seek out some organic, non-GMO masa, since that’s a major ingredient and corn is such a bastardized crop.
Overall, it was bearable. The goal isn’t flavor anyway, but it does need to be something I can handle three times a day.
[EDIT] Here’s a screen shot of the recipe. Apparently, there’s an issue with Internet Explorer not displaying the grid on the web page. So, here you go: