Eating Out (on) Instagram
Since dining has become less about spending time with loved ones and enjoying the simple act of sustenance and more about a budding career as an unpaid Instagram food stylist, I now know more than ever about public food choice. I applaud the ability of people to self-identify through hashtags instead of say music or the things you collectively hate (like the way normal people make friends). But I hate trendy brunch items.
I like to see breakfast photos from powerlifters who are about 400 fat grams away from a triple bypass. I want to see a pound of differing fried pork products over biscuits baked with a stick of butter and smothered with a pitcher of gravy topped with a few over easy eggs. I want to know that at any moment that dish might kill someone. I want honesty in advertising.
Instead, instagram assaults me with some new brunch-du-jour dish that is the reason some emaciated “influencer” is so “fit”.
There are plenty of people out there more qualified than I am to talk about the issues with body image and the ridiculous interpretations of what a fit woman looks like so I will not expound on it here further than to say that the standards most women hold themselves to are both unreasonable and unrealistic. I have worked with supermodels and celebrities and have seen them without makeup or photoshop. What you see on magazine covers is not reality.
It’s Not Breakfast, It’s Not Lunch. WTF.
With that out of the way, let me admit that I am a bit biased. Brunch is one of those things that just pisses me off (shocking, I know). I hate the idea of waiting 45 minutes to get into a restaurant I wouldn’t go to all week just to eat breakfast food that is marked up 300% because they happen to serve it after 11am with a shitty mimosa.
…I live in New York…
…where it is apparently a requirement to attend brunch at least once a month…
…Plus, my wife loves it so I compromise. If they have a burger (or feijoada) I will go. But I’m wearing my gym clothes.
Fitness and Breakfast: A Love/Hate Story
Breakfast has long been the subject of passion with health minded folk. I remember my parents, who were avid endurance athletes, subscribing to the grapefruit diet in the 80s. I don’t remember exactly what it entailed but I am pretty sure it was just to eat a grapefruit for breakfast. Some diet.
I have never liked eating in the morning. Growing up, however, I was always taught that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you didn’t eat a large breakfast you were sure to die poor and alone.
Imagine my excitement when I discovered intermittent fasting. Here came a nutritional plan that if I just skipped breakfast and laid off that midnight pint of ice cream I would be jacked and tan by week’s end.
Intermittent fasting authors ascribed the mechanisms of fasting to the changes in body composition. In all likelihood, eating for an 8 hour window instead of 14 probably causes a reduction in calories in most adherents. There probably isn’t anything magical about skipping breakfast.
So, what does all this have to do with brunch pics on instagram? I am trying to illustrate that it is easy to buy into a narrative about diet and health when it plays to what you want to believe.
Exhibit A: Avocado Toast
I remember when avocado was just one of three ingredients in guacamole. Now it has somehow been elevated to a status somewhere between Jesus and boobs. Apparently if you put it on a piece of fucking toast it also becomes a health food. The egg on top classifies it as brunch.
Let’s take a minute to break this down. Say you have ½ an avocado on your toast you are looking at 2 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat and 8 grams of carbs. Lots of fiber and B and C vitamins so that is great. Your egg is going to have around 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat. I’m assuming the bread is going to be of the dense, delicious type so we can add 15 grams of carbs.
That avocado toast has 8 grams of protein, 20 grams of fat and 23 grams of carbs. Low protein, high fat, high carb. I don’t know anyone who would recommend that for any kind of physique or performance goals. Plus, according to some rich douchenozzle, if you eat avocado toast you will never own a home.
How would I fix this? If you love to have avocado toast once a week it’s not a big deal. I would drop the fried egg and have an egg white omelette with peppers and spinach or a protein shake as a substitute. That way you can get a decent amount of protein sans added fat to turn this into a more well rounded meal.
Exhibit B: Green Juice
I blame the land of anal bleaching and vagina egg workouts for this one. La La land has supplied the world with a lot of bullshit fads that I am sure at some point had merit. I like the fact that I can get a week’s worth of vegetables in an 8oz cup without the accompanying fibre content that would make it double as a colonic. I don’t like the fact that it has been peddled as both a meal replacement and the cure for cancer.
If the juice was just a blend of green lettuces, root vegetables, and ginger it would be a great multivitamin alternative. Unfortunately, the only way to make this concoction remotely palatable to the average consumer is to add in 3 pineapples and a cherry. Yes, in my mind the only way a green juice sounds good is it is served with an umbrella.
What you end up with is drink loaded with vitamins and minerals but also loaded with sugars. Even if you drink it with no added fruit juice you are still missing the requisite macronutrient profile to make this into anything resembling a meal.
I have two fixes for this. First would be to take the plain green drink with no added fruit and have it with a well rounded breakfast of protein, a little fat, and some carbs. Then you get the benefits of the nutrient profile in the juice while also providing enough sustenance to move through your day. The other way would be to trade your juice for a fruit smoothie. Have them add spinach and a scoop of protein powder. If you have this in your post workout window you have a perfect post-workout meal. Fast acting carbs, protein, and a healthy dose of vitamins from the spinach.
Exhibit C: Bulletproof Coffee w/Butter
Get out. Seriously, get the fuck out of my website. Now.
I will say that if you are at least considering the nutritional value of what you are putting into your body you are miles ahead of the pack. The next step in getting the most out of your fitness goals is to dial in your nutritional choices. If you can go from “healthy” choices to optimal choices, your outcome will go from good to great.