Humanfood

I am insomniatic, so I’ll write about what is keeping me up.

I want to concoct a “humanfood” for myself: a food that would keep me healthy even if it were 100% of my diet. I spend energy every day worrying about what I should eat and traveling around town to get it. Sometimes I get in a rut and just eat Subway every day (there is one across the street), which is gluten-heavy and probably incomplete in a few ways. This contributes to my malnutrition and pushes me further into my rut.

I understand that nutrition is a subtle balance, but mostly I am trying to protect myself from malnutrition. I trust my body to do a pretty good job sorting out the jewels from the junk (as long as there isn’t too much junk, which I am typically good about). As I am coming to understand how tightly coupled my motivation and energy level are to my nutrition, I conjecture that having some prepared food that I can snack on anytime and get my nutrients for the day will help me get more out of my time.

And yet, I don’t want to be a nutritionist. Thus humanfood.

Fortunately my mother is associated with people who spend a lot of time thinking about nutrition. I’m going to start by asking them, and doing research on the interwebs. If any of my readers have ideas for what would make good ingredients, do post. Please, keep it reasonable though — this is something that I am thinking about eating all the time, so I require more than just for it to be healthy. It should be “maximally healthy”. (Calories are important too!)

I will publish my research and experiences as I acquire them. I will try to keep my reports relatively scientific, but I’m trying to get on with my life in the meantime, so I probably won’t be able to do that to an extreme. In other words, I will try to make my anecdotes worthwhile.

About these ads

17 thoughts on “Humanfood

  1. http://www.michaelpollan.com/article.php?id=87

    I wonder if your best bet wouldn’t be to keep fresh produce on hand and eat a salad or fruit as desired. I really think any source of nutrition that keeps (soy, potatoes, rice, pasta, wheat flour) is only usable after cooking; there’s a reason humans got an edge with the discovery of fire. I guess rodents go for nuts and seeds since they keep and can be eaten raw. Variety is the spice of life but if it’s too spicy I hope you find something that works for you. Finally, have you tried growing your own bean sprouts?

  2. I have heard that peanut butter is nearly a complete food in and of itself; you might need to supplement with some multi-vitamins or whatever.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plumpy%27nut (I figure that if you can feed malnourished famine victims for weeks on it and cure them, then a healthy person should be fine.)

    Variety sounds like a major issue though…

  3. Probably stay away from anything processed and loaded with sugar. Snack on whole fruit, nuts (not legumes), veggies, hummus. I’ve been enjoying a lot of raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries lately.

    I think ‘easy’ isn’t normally healthy. One thing that could help you is if you arrange to receive produce weekly through a CSA. Also, you can buy meat through cowshares, pigshares, etc.

    Maybe if you decided on the types of things you wanted to eat, set up the orders periodically, then hopefully you’ll be healthier and won’t be mentally taxed about what you should eat.

  4. Obligatory Futurama/Bachelor Chow reference. I’ve always thought it would be awesome if this existed.

  5. If you’re going to design an optimal diet for yourself, take a look at Food and Western Disease: Health and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective by Staffan Lindeberg (2010). [1] Lindeberg argues (and supports with evidence) that your body is very likely to be well adapted to eating foods that humans have eaten for a long time on the evolutionary time scale: meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Recent introductions to the human diet, however, things like grains and seed oils, are more likely to be linked to chronic disease, our bodies not having had sufficient natural-selection iterations to adapt to, especially given the low selection pressure presented by diseases that manifest well after typical child-bearing years.

    One other thing Lindeberg argues – and this goes to your “humanfood” concept – is that we should not eat too much of any one thing. Each of us may be ill-adapted to certain foods that have evaded our particular genetic inheritance; by eating a constantly varying diet, we can avoid eating too much of them.

    Cheers,
    Tom

    [1]http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1405197714/

  6. Nutrition science is horrid. 99% of it is bad science – some outright fraud but a lot of cases where the controls were not properly selected. (there are also a lot of correlation studies that are taken to mean far more than such studies can show)

    Of the other 1%, some conclude “Despite our best efforts, it proved impossible to get people to eat their assigned diet”. The rest don’t apply to you because you are not in prison, and don’t live the life style of any group studied (you probably don’t have the right genetics as ethics boards in most countries will not allow such studies).

  7. Actually it already exists. Purina Monkey Chow. Seriously: it is formulated for primates with identical nutritional requirements to ours, it is inexpensive, and tastes pretty good.

  8. gwern :

    Barak A. Pearlmutter :
    Actually it already exists. Purina Monkey Chow. Seriously: it is formulated for primates with identical nutritional requirements to ours, it is inexpensive, and tastes pretty good.

    Doesn’t seem to work very well, based on http://www.angryman.ca/monkey.html

    The guy’s issues were purely psychosomatic. Get a bag and put a few bowls of it out at a party. Ask people what they thought of your new nutritious party snacks. Yum!

  9. My mom knew a guy who did this. He biked everywhere and did a lot of camping so he did a bunch of research to determine a super high-calorie food with all required nutrition for the least weight and no cooking. The solution he came up with was a mix of peanut butter(already mentioned), honey, powdered milk, and chocolate chips. Not sure the proportions. Apperently this was all he ate for long stretches.

    The goal may be slightly different from what you are looking for, as he was basically looking for lightwieght no-hassle fuel, but it’s a good start.

  10. Elfi :

    “Rules” for any diet that will actually work:
    http://gravsports.blogspot.com/2010/03/good-writing-cf-sectionals-and-gadd-not.html
    elfi

    Tom Moertel :
    If you’re going to design an optimal diet for yourself, take a look at Food and Western Disease: Health and nutrition from an evolutionary perspective by Staffan Lindeberg (2010). [1] Lindeberg argues (and supports with evidence) that your body is very likely to be well adapted to eating foods that humans have eaten for a long time on the evolutionary time scale: meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Recent introductions to the human diet, however, things like grains and seed oils, are more likely to be linked to chronic disease, our bodies not having had sufficient natural-selection iterations to adapt to, especially given the low selection pressure presented by diseases that manifest well after typical child-bearing years.
    Tom
    [1]http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1405197714/

    I absolutely agree with these two and can add a little more to it by adding another link to check in on. It seems to me that humans evolved to eat a variety, but that our bodies are not designed to process grains, legumes, dairy, and other recent (last 10,000 years, since the dawn of agriculture) additions to our diet. For the same reason people avoid beef and poultry fed from grains, we too should avoid it.

    From the research above has come a “new” mode of living–“Primal living”. Check it out at http://www.marksdailyapple.com/

    I have been living this way for about 6 months and it’s delicious, easy, and I don’t miss the carbs at all. Additionally, I have lost between 20-30 pounds of fat and gained 10-15 lbs of muscle. It’s totally sustainable (both personally as a lifestyle change and environmentally as a change to local, pure foods), too!

    Of course, variety is the key. You could make those subway visits a bit better by dropping the bread and making the steak sub a steak and spinach salad instead. Good luck and bon apetit!

    By the way…

    Anonymous :
    Snack on whole fruit, nuts (not legumes), veggies, hummus.

    Hummus is made from legumes–chickpeas/garbonzos. Careful. ;)

  11. Edit: Nix what I said about carbs–I eat plenty of carbs. I don’t mix *simple carbs* made of *grains*. A result of this lifestyle is that I never have blood sugar spikes and crashes, nor the resulting insulin spikes and crashes that quickly follow, and I have *way* more energy and better mood as a result.

    If you’re hesitant to kick grainey carbs to the curb, just start by kicking gluten out of your system. No Wheat, Oats, Rye, Barley, MSG, and the like. Gluten is nothing more than a destroyer of humans. =) Then step up and remove the other handful of grains and legumes (peas, beans and peanuts) from your diet, and you’ll feel like a million bucks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s