“Free tastes better.” A lot of people walk around saying this. In fact, I had a classmate last year who calculated how much money he could save by going to events serving lunch or dinner. And, he made it a point to show up to those events.
Tonight I attended such an event. I haven’t gone to one in a long time because my new eating habits and guidelines don’t really fall in line with what is served. A friend asked me to come tonight and I figured the event was homemade cooking, so I would show up. I ate a little bit of the vegetarian chili and then came home to eat again.
I wasn’t really keen on eating something that I didn’t know the contents of. I know that with chili you can usually look and see, but I like to know what I’m eating. If I didn’t cook it, then I can’t know.
The problem with free food is usually one or all of the following.
1. It is some variation of fast food. This usually means pizza, soda, subs (which in the grand scheme of possible entrees isn’t too bad, but cold cuts have cancer causing nitrates), chips, candy.
2. The food is excessively high in sodium. I really don’t like feeling like a salted fish. I shudder to think what kind of nutrition facts the foods being served have. I was feeling lazy at the beginning of the semester and looking for a way out of cooking, but when I read the nutrition labels of the microwave dinners, I couldn’t stomach the idea of eating 1/3 of my daily sodium in one tiny bowl of not so tasty food. And these stats are from the backs of the “healthy” microwave dinners. They cut down the fat and the calories, but the sodium is sky high.
3. The food is high is fat. We usually get pizza and that pizza is dripping with fats. Probably not very good fats. Add some pepperoni and you’ve got a heart attack waiting for you some years down the line.
4. What would constitute one serving would never be enough for someone to feel full. This really falls in line with the high in fat, high in sodium theme. Free food is usually high in calories.
5. Free food lacks nutritional value. You might be getting all the sodium and fats that you could ever need, but you’re not getting any vitamins, minerals, or anything that would be useful to your body.
Now, I’m not saying that I never ate any of the free food. Sometimes after a long morning of lectures and having starved since a 7 am breakfast, I will eat anything. Last year I did. This year is a different story.
Ever since I started working out at the gym and working with a trainer, I am loathe to put anything into my body that isn’t healthy for it. I don’t count calories or do any fancy diets or obsess over what I’m eating, but I try to follow a few rough guidelines (I’ll write these up in a separate post). The guidelines give me some general rules to follow and following those rules means that free food is no longer part of my diet. If I don’t have my own lunch with me, I either wait it out by eating a piece of fruit or a protein bar or I just go home and get the information that I missed some other way. Most of the time, I’m not really missing much by skipping out on the free food. In fact, usually I gain some extra time (which I’m always happy to have). I’m also probably healthier for resisting.
So I urge you to think about what you put into your body and how it makes you feel. Is free food really a good idea? I don’t think that free food is worth feeling bloated and sluggish later. Plus, I’d like to save myself from hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes if I can. This is just one part of the plan – eat healthy.