How we eat

A reader asked me how I combine the warrior diet with extreme frugality. The simple answer is that I don’t. I don’t follow the warrior diet to the letter, nor am I nearly as frugal with the food budget as I used to be (less than $200 per month for two people in NorCal is still pretty good, though, no?). Being married has meant a few compromises when it comes to cooking. DW comes from a background of hearty English cooking (if it fits in a pot, it must be boiled) and comfort food (mmmm, brownies). I come from a background of … well, let’s see. I turned vegetarian shortly after I moved away from home after having taken a wow of not eating cakes (that lasted 4 years). At that time I was quite interested in cooking, so I perused a lot of vegetarian cookbooks, not to follow recipes but to learn what made the recipe work. Consequently, if you give me a bunch of random ingredients I can whip something together. It won’t be great, but it won’t be bad either. In fact, insofar that my cooking sports sufficient scoville units to incinerate small insects, I consider it a success. DW doesn’t like hot food.

So essentially we’re almost diametrically opposed when it comes to cooking. As such we take turns cooking. DW does one week. I do the next. And so on. In my opinion this works quite well. In terms of what we cook, we also have some compromises. DW generally won’t make boiled meat, because she knows that I’m not going to eat very much of it. In turn, I’ll add spices later and steer away from the most ascetic meals (Yup, the broccolli with tabasco laced cauliflower and beans days are over).

We also have different meal plans. DW follows the traditional assembly/farmer diet of three meals a day. For a time, I tried following the athlete diet of eating many smaller meals, but my digestive system couldn’t handle it. Besides I’m not a full time athlete. So I follow the warrior diet which is suitable for soldiers (and also office dweebs who otherwise don’t do much physical labor). This means I only eat once a day, specifically dinner (I just ate 5 turkey sandwiches – double full grain toast bread, two 0.25″ slices of turkey, raw onion, tomato, lettuce, pickle).

I do not follow the warrior diet to the letter. For instance, I don’t take supplements. Nor do I try to keep things organic. The reason I don’t take supplements is part laziness and partially due to the attitude that I should be eating sufficiently varying so as not to need them. Couple this with various medical research that says you should take your vitamins – no, you should not take additional vitamins,… When medical studies disagree, it typically means that the truth is not important enough to be easily determined. I have seen similar research when it comes to organic (more micronutrients but also higher risk of plant diseases) vs inorganic (the opposite).

The reason I follow the warrior diet is to keep very stable my blood sugar levels. Athletes generally depend on a steady stream of food to stabilize their blood sugar. If they miss a meal and exercise, they sugar crash badly. I never crash. Since I only eat once a day, insulin is not released according to schedule (except 6pm). Thus I’m not hungry. In addition, my blood sugar is released into the blood stream in a very steady fashion. This is the only way I can do my schedule of biking 45-90 minutes a day and play hockey without spending all my time eating.

Of course this has some social problems: other people. Other people still need to eat every few hours lest they be cranky. Conversely, if I suddenly eat, I my blood gets flooded with sugar (because there was no insulin – I’m about as anti-diabetic as one can get) which causes a spike in insulin to take the sugar out. This makes me very tired. It makes other people tired too which is why sugary cereals is often combined with coffee to a great effect. Of course this is a very stupid way to compensate for the body’s natural behavior when trying to fit it into an eat all the time, but don’t do the work (e.g. office workers).

If you want to know what I typically cook, you can check out some of the recipes I have posted on Early Retirement Extreme. Tortilla shells with (refried) beans, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, cheese, and salsa is a mainstay. It should probably be mentioned that we use very little in terms of preprocessed foods and tend to buy in bulk (25-50lbs bags of rice, 20lbs bags of beans, 10lbs of potatoes, etc.).

Much thanks to PK for the $10 donation.

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Originally posted 2008-04-17 07:07:09.