On September 1st, I started what I was calling “my great experiment“. Altering my diet in a significant way to make me more aware of what I was eating, how I was eating, and where my food came from was a huge step for me. So now it’s a week and a half later, how has it worked out?
Short version: remarkably well!
So lets get a couple things out of the way about how my this is all going:
- Right now I’m eating 1 meal out of 3 using ‘traditional’ food. Breakfast and dinner are Soylent, lunch at work is whatever is in the cafeteria that day (sometimes sandwiches, sometimes pizza, whatever.) On weekends, I try to have all my meals as Soylent, but usually have one meal ‘out’ with family or friends.
- Outside of Soylent for breakfast, ‘traditional lunch’, and Soylent for dinner, I have a mug of coffee in the morning, and a mug of coffee in the afternoon. That’s it.
- When I have Soylent for a meal, I drink whatever I feel is adequate. Basically until I’m ‘full’. This usually works out to about one ‘big’ glass. I chug it down quickly (mostly because I’m just standing in my kitchen). More on this below.
- The taste is not unpleasant, but not THIS IS GREAT. Drinking it cold is a definite win, so I keep my container in the fridge after mixing a batch. It can be best described as a relatively bland milk shake, with a little grittiness (remember, lots of protein).
- A single container (which contains one bag of Soylent) lasts about a day and a half. They’re supposed to be for one day, so I figure I’m taking about 2/3rds of my nutrition from Soylent.
- This has had little no impact on my digestive tract. Everything still works the same as it ever has.
- It’s cheap. A weeks worth of Soylent is $70. Since I’m going ‘half speed’, $140 a month will cover 2/3rds of my meals. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
There’s been a few surprises – things that I hadn’t expected.
First is appetite / hunger changes. If I’m hungry, and I drink a glass of Soylent, I stop being hungry IMMEDIATELY. It’s like turning off a switch. One minute I’m super-starving, *glugluglug*, and suddenly, wham! “No thanks, I’m full!”. That fullness lasts until it’s time for the next meal. What this translates to is ‘dinner’ is not an event, not a huge block of time chalked out for prep, sitting, and cleanup… it’s just a stop in the kitchen on the way to the laundry room. I’ve stopped thinking of this as “mealtime” and started thinking of it as just “Refueling”. Soylent is my fuel, when I run low, I fill up again, and keep going.
Snacking or hunger pangs in the middle of the day or in the evening have completely vanished. After I have my Soylent, I am not hungry or even interested in having more food for hours. And I’ve had platefuls of chocolates, chips, cheese, cake, everything put in front of me, and I simply have no interest in eating it. A friend of mine tried Soylent for one meal, and had the exact same experience. When someone came by half an hour later with home made warm chocolate chip cookies, she had no interest in them at all.
Energy levels, ‘feeling fed’, everything like that has been going great. In the past, that ‘full feeling’ used to make me feel guilty for overeating or indulging. Now I just see it as “my gas tank is full, I can go for the next 4-5 hours and not need anything.”
And? I’m losing weight. I’m down about 6lbs from when I started. I don’t expect that trend to massively continue (I had a very active weekend), but all indications are I’m taking in less calories than I’m burning, and I’m not feeling like I’m straining myself on some special starvation diet to do so.
So what have the challenges been?
I don’t miss meals, that’s for sure. Normally, I eat by myself anyway. The couple times I’ve gone to meals or dinners or lunches, I just eat what’s available there. I did bring some Soylent to one meal, but it felt sort of awkward. Next time I’ll just chug my glass beforehand and sit and be social.
If I get really hungry (say, at the end of a work day), and I’m facing a 45 minute drive home, the temptation to just go get some fast food is very hard to fight. My body is saying “YOU NEED MORE FUEL” and years of training have said that when I’m hungry and out driving, I should stop somewhere and eat. As far as ‘sticking to a diet’ or ‘fighting urges’, this is as close as I’ve come to changing ‘breaking’ my new pattern (and yes, I’ve given in at least once).
Lastly, I don’t know how to extend this new pattern outside of the household. I’m terrible with travel mugs and stainless steel bottles and all that. I could probably bring a container with me to work, keep it in the fridge, and chug down at the end of the day, but that would be one more thing I’d need to keep clean every night, and as evidenced by my vast array of scary looking coffee travel mugs, that doesn’t work well for me. But the issue isn’t food at work. Next week I go on a business trip to NYC for 4 days / 3 nights. I’ll be on Amtrak for several hours on either end of that. Do I haul a supply of Soylent with me for this trip? Probably not. Is this a bad thing? Well, morally, I feel like I’m going back on a promise I made to myself. Does it really make much difference bodywise? No. I’ll take in more calories than I normally do, and I’ll spend more money on food (okay, it’s expensed, but it’s the principle of the thing).
I have to call this last almost-two-weeks a surprising success. I thought I wouldn’t ‘stick it out’, but now, it just seems normal. Up until recently I was not having breakfast, and I’d get a bagel or have a poptart at work in the morning (and god forbid if someone brought doughnuts to work. I’d hoover those puppies up in no time). Now I just drink down a glass before I leave the house, and my appetite is set for 4-5 hours. I have my coffee, but when doughnuts did appear, I had no interest in eating them.
The “I’m just refueling myself” metaphor works really well for me. I don’t look at a Soylent meal as “Nah, I won’t have that cheeseburger, I’ll have a glass of goop instead”. Meals at home are just a pause in an active evening to put more fuel in. I’ve found I have more time to do projects and hobbies and cleaning and other things that I’ve been neglecting (the house is clean!).
Am I going to keep going? Guess so! I just put in a standing order for 2 boxes of Soylent a month.