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November 25, 2015

My fling with Soylent, the scientifical "food"

I think I have some odd eating quirks. I don’t mean the fact that I’ve been vegetarian for 35+ years. It’s that I don’t like vegetables and I exhibit some possibly compulsive behavior about food.

Maybe 7 or 8 years ago (which probably means 10 years ago) I had put on a ton of weight. I had weighed 165 lbs. when I got married, but about 20-25 years later I had fattened myself up to 220+. My blood sugar control system was responding in the predictable way. My doctor diagnosed me as pre-diabetic.

So, I stopped eating things with added sugar and went on a low glycemic index diet. Over the course of maybe six months I lost about forty pounds. Even at 183 lbs., I was fat, but I was no longer a fat fuck. More like “Oh, he’s an American.” The weight loss, change in diet, and intermittent exercise dropped my blood sugar levels, and for at least the past five years they’ve been well below the diabetes threshold. I am no longer pre-diabetic. My doctor counts me as a success story.

“I got fat by eating with a child’s tastes and an adult’s permission.”I got fat by eating with a child’s tastes and an adult’s permission. Worse, if left at a table with a food that can be consumed in small amounts, I will eat one peanut or bread shred every 90 seconds until nothing’s left. Compulsively.

On the other hand, I am also very disciplined about food, which I think is just another way my compulsiveness manifests itself. So, I’ve eaten the same breakfast every day since my diagnosis. Every day. And it’s a fine breakfast: no-fat unsweetened yogurt with walnuts, sunflower seeds, and a little cut-up fruit stirred in. Every day. (I do allow myself exceptions during our two weeks of vacation.)

Dinner I eat with my wife. Weekdays she cooks. I cook on weekends. There’s a relatively small set of things we like, and that’s what we eat. A lot of it is carb heavy, but it’s just one meal a day, I eat in moderation, and my blood work says I can afford it.

But lunch has been a problem for years. I work at home these days, which means around noon I’m poking around the fridge. Egg whites have been one go-to meal, but I don’t like them all that much and they’re not very filling. A sandwich has too much bread. I like leftovers, but they’re often too carby.

So lunch is always a problem. It is why, I believe, I’ve gained back ten pounds over the years. That’s not bad given, well, everything. And I weirdly thought that I’d gained about twenty-five pounds until I finally weighed myself six weeks ago — so I apparently suffer from body dysmorphism also.

I needed to address lunch.“ I decided to use my compulsive personality as my secret super-power.” I decided to use my compulsive personality as my secret super-power.

I had been reading about Soylent, a perfectly engineered food replacement (or thus is the goal). I like the idea of a community of food hackers arguing about exactly which micro-ingredients are needed. Soylent is a commercial company offering its version. With version 2.0, it comes in convenient liquid form, shipped in plain white bottles. Four hundred calories. Glycemically ok, according to the site.

I have found my lunch.

You can apparently live on Soylent. Five bottles a day gives you 2,000 perfectly-balanced calories. (That’d cost you about $12.50/day, although you could make your own for far less.) But I’m just looking for a repetitive, never-think-about-it, healthy-enough lunch. So, “I’ve been drinking a bottle of Soylent every day”I’ve been drinking a bottle of Soylent every day between 12:00 and 12:30 in the afternoon.

Someone on Reddit, I think, described the taste well: It’s like the milk after you’ve eaten the Cheerios. I hate milk because it comes from inside cows, and Soylent is a little too close to how I remember milk tasting. So, I’ve been mixing it with a tablespoon of Hershey’s dark chocolate baking power (10 cals) and one packet of fake sugar. I actually look forward to it.

Yes, I know egg whites come from inside chickens, which makes me squeamish both because of the cruelty with which even “free range” chickens are treated, and because it is a slimy fluid that comes from inside a chicken. But I am a hypocrite, so shoot me. (I like honey even less because it comes from inside a bug. I’ve seen the insides of bugs. How does anyone eat that?)

Soylent is not intended to be a weight-loss product. A bottle has more than twice the calories of a Nutrisystem shake. But I have in my life done Nutrisystem and it’s deeply unsatisfying. One of their shakes doesn’t last long enough, and it’s jacked with fake everything. “Nutrisystem is jacked with fake everything”Soylent is, I’m pretty sure, actually good for me. And it keeps me going until around 4pm, when a half an apple will take me the rest of the way to dinner. Since starting on Soylent, I’ve lost 8 pounds, getting me close to where I plateaued when I did my big weight loss after the pre-diabetes diagnosis.

Although Soylent is definitely not a low-carb “food,” my blood sugar seems to be doing well with it. I’ve seen no spikes in my home tests after a Soylent lunch. Obviously, your blood sugar mileage may vary.

I’m not tempted to replace more of my meals with Soylent. One a day seems to be doing the trick for me, keeping in mind that I was looking for a way to be more compulsive about eating.

Soylent: The perfect non-food for compulsives! (Soylent.com, you can have that tagline for free.)


No, I will not be having Soylent tomorrow, Thanksgiving, for lunch. I may be slightly compulsive, but I’m not crazy. (Of course, I won’t be having turkey either.)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, y’all!

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