Garbage In, Garbage Out

CSA Veggies

I tend to eat pretty healthfully. I eat a lot of vegetables, sparing meat, limit restaurant visits, and consume as few processed products as I can. Jennifer and I are members of a local CSA, and we do our best to stick to the 5-ingredient rule for anything that comes in a package, but that’s not always possible.

And for the most part, we feel good and our energy levels are high. I know that part of that comes from eating well and that part of it comes from regular exercise.

But until this weekend, I didn’t know just how much diet influenced how I feel. It’s easy to say garbage in, garbage out or you are what you eat or 80% of weight loss happens in the kitchen, but after the past weekend, I have never been more sure of why I do what I do and eat the way I eat. 

On Thursday, I had the penultimate freshman orientation of the summer, and Jennifer was working at her library’s Harry Potter Birthday Party. This is what my food looked like that day.

  • Breakfast:
    • 2 sweet potato pancakes.
    • 3 slices of uncured bacon
    • 2 scrambled eggs
    • coffee
  • Lunch
    • Raspberry cilantro wrap
    • Potato chips on the side
    • Blueberry/hazelnut frappe
  • Dinner
    • Mexican Flag enchiladas (one green, one white, one red)
    • Chips and salsa
  • Snacks
    • Half a piece of coconut fudge
    • Quarter of a Butterbeer brownie

It was all delicious. And unbelievably heavy. I walked through that day feeling like a lump of iron had taken up residence in my stomach. The next day was better, but I had a large lunch out with my friends (a garden burger with more potato chips), adn then had my wife’s unbelievably awesome veggie and gouda pizza for dinner.

By the time her family reunion came around on Saturday, all I wanted was fruits and vegetables. (And platefuls of barbeque and slaw. Can’t forget that.)

I was lethargic and tired and grumpy. I felt like that lump of iron had itself some babies in my tumtum over those couple of days.

When Saturday evening came rolling around, and we were at home, you know all I wanted? A freaking peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Which I devoured and was so happy.

As much as I enjoyed that food and knew that I wasn’t going to gain a substantial amount of weight from it (outside of bloating from too much sodium), I just felt bad. Not bad about myself for eating it. But just bad. The food I had put in my body hadn’t fueled me like my normal food did.

Lesson Learned

I learned over this past weekend that there’s a reason behind all this clean-eating madness. It’s not weight loss or maintenance, and it’s not vanity and fitting into smaller clothes.

It’s pure and simple energy. When I eat food that’s full of nutrients, I feel good and energetic and like I can’t stop moving. When I eat heavy food with lots of additives (or even just less fresh and more prepared stuff), I feel thick and heavy and tired.

It really is a quality over quantity thing. If you haven’t tried cutting out the heaviness and eating for nutrients, I suggest giving it a try. I guess there really is something to the adage you are what you eat. I feel ten times better today than I did all weekend long, and most of that comes from comes from getting back to a nutritious diet.

Do you have any experience with clean eating and how you feel one way or the other?

B.J. Keeton

B.J. Keeton

B.J. is a geek, gamer, podcaster, and livestreamer. He has been the co-host of the Geek to Geek podcast since 2016, and he helped start the Geek to Geek Media Network. His biggest pet peeve is when someone spells Wookiee with only one E. One time, he told his friends he liked vegetables maybe more than he did Star Wars, and they made him put a dollar in the jar. That should tell you everything you need to know about him. Find him on Twitter as @professorbeej or on Discord as @professorbeej#1337.

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  1. Des @ Finding the Skinny Geek Within

    I need to know more about this butterbeer brownie (or maybe I shouldn’t….)

    Yea, I do that to myself quite a bit though. I say “I exercised so much, I can afford these chips and dip…etc” Then the next day either I have a tummy ache or I just feel lethargic. Thing is I know better and I know it’s not worth it. But yet, why do I keep doing it.

    I’ve got to get a better handle on weekend eating that’s for sure. During the week I rarely have a problem but the weekends kill me every single time. Ugh.

    • B.J. Keeton

      It takes a while to get out of the “weekend splurges,” and what did it for me was that I wasn’t seeing results during the week when I ate like that. I have found that when Jennifer and I prep meals on the weekend and cook stuff to keep as leftovers during the week, we end up eating that on the weekends, too. It’s helped a great deal.

      I can’t remember how long ago it was, but I read a study about how people who considered their activities “exercise” versus “entertainment” would generally eat 30% more calories afterward in controlled settings. It was really interesting in terms of how we all look at working out.

  2. Mike

    I just recently went camping with my family and friends, and I ate several hot dogs, most of a bag of sweet and salty popcorn, and some chips.

    I couldn’t believe how bad I felt the next day…a combination of the food I had eaten, and the lack of water I consumed left me feeling horrible. So I know how you feel!

    • B.J. Keeton

      I’ve wondered about how water intake affects me on days like that. I’ve never actually tried eating super poorly and overhydrating to flush my system and dilute my stomach acids so the garbage doesn’t get absorbed as well.


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