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My MyPlate Experiment Hits The Weekend

Posted: 02/12/2013 12:16 pm

On Sunday, my weeklong experiment of eating exactly what the USDA says I should came to an end.

I wish I could say I'd stayed equally stalwart in my dedication to the plan all week, but that wouldn't be quite true. I sort of lost enthusiasm and dedication, unsurprisingly, just as the weekend hit. On Friday, for example, I had to visit several restaurants for work (woe is me!). Later on, I had a couple more drinks than I was supposed to, and I didn't resist when my roommate offered me amazing brown butter blondies she'd baked herself.

To some extent, this was all a sign of my lack of resolution and commitment, I admit. But on another level, it was also a test of the system's flexibility. I really didn't go crazy over the weekend. So how does MyPlate deal with going a little off the wagon? If it can't deal with it at all -- if it can't account, in the words of Weight Watchers spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson, for the "extra-cheese, extra-large world we live in" -- then it's not going to be useful as a dietary guide for Americans. Because no one this side of Chris Traeger can eat 100 percent healthy, 100 percent of the time.

After one week, despite my cheating, I lost a pound without being hungry all the time. So that's not nothing. On the other hand, I had a rather unpleasant time and became a little neurotic about having to tally up and photograph everything I ate. So more to come on those notes. Until then, click through the slideshow below to see everything I ate during my weeklong USDA diet:

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  • Monday Breakfast

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong>1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup milk, 2 slides whole wheat toast <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 oz. Grains, 1 cup Fruits, 2 cups Dairy <strong>What I Thought:</strong> A little large & heavy on the dairy, but yummy overall.

  • Monday Noontime Snack

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong> 2 medium chopped raw carrots <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 cup Vegetables <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Raw carrots are weirdly hard to chew if you don't dip them in hummus or ranch dressing first.

  • Monday Lunch

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong> 1 1/2 cups brown rice, 1 cup sauteed kale, 1 sliced chicken sausage <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 3 oz. Grains, 1 cup Vegetables, 2 oz. Protein Foods, 1 tsp. Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Delicious! One advantage of eating leftovers from dinner the night before.

  • Monday Late Afternoon Snack

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong> 1 Fuji apple <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 1/4 cup Fruits <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Not the best apple I've ever had -- the SweeTango took that cake long ago -- but a nice crisp afternoon snack.

  • Monday Dinner

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 2 cups quinoa, 1 cup roast tofu, 1/2 cup caramelized onions, 1 1/2 cups steamed broccoli, ginger-soy-lime-garlic dressing, 1 cup milk <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 4 oz. Grains, 2 cups Vegetables, ¼ cup Fruits, 1 cup Dairy, 4 oz. Protein Foods, 9 tsp Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Could have used more salt, but the dressing and caramelized onions made it sing. Plus the milk actually counteracted the Thai birds eye chili in the sauce really nicely.

  • Monday's Food Group Tally

    I was a little over on fruits & veggies, but a little under on protein... the opposite of a normal day for me and most American.

  • Monday's Nutrients

    Under on calories, over on oils & way way over on sodium.

  • Tuesday Breakfast

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 2 eggs scrambled with a bit of milk, 1 cup mushrooms & 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 2 slices whole wheat toast <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 oz. Grains, 1 cup Vegetables, ¾ cup Dairy, 2 oz. Protein Foods <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Much heavier than my normal weekday breakfasts.

  • Tuesday Noontime Snack

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 1 Cara Cara orange <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 cup Fruit <strong>What I Thought:</strong> A little messy for the office.

  • Tuesday Lunch

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Leftover quinoa, broccoli, tofu & caramelized onions from dinner last night <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 3 oz. Grains, 2¼ cups Vegetables, 3 oz. Protein Foods, 3 tsp Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Not as good as it was last night, but a tasty, filling lunch nonetheless.

  • Tuesday Afternoon Snack

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 1 cup blueberries <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 cup Fruits <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Perfect afternoon pick-me-up

  • Tuesday Appetizer

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 2 Finn Crisps <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1½ ounce(s) Grains <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Like raw carrots, better with hummus.

  • Tuesday Dinner

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Grilled chicken quesadilla made with whole wheat tortillas & 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cooked in 1 tablespoon canola oil, plus 2 cups steamed green beans. <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2½ oz. Grains, 2 cups Vegetables, 1¼ cups Dairy, 3 oz Protein Foods, 3 tsp. Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Though the beans would have been way better with salt & butter, the quesadilla tasted downright decadent.

  • Tuesday Post-Dinner Drink

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 1 pint of 'Gansett <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> (no food groups) <strong>What I Thought:</strong> My first drink of the experiment. Yum!

  • Tuesday Dessert

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon maple syrup <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 cup Dairy <strong>What I Thought:</strong> A little sad for a dessert, despite the syrup.

  • Tuesday's Food Group Tally

    I went way over on the veggies... but should I really be penalized for that?

  • Tuesday's Nutrients

    I actually came <em>super</em> close on calories & saturated fat... couldn't they have made it yellow, at least, instead of red? Even sodium was a major improvement from Monday.

  • Wednesday Breakfast

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 1 cup Greek yogurt with a chopped-up pear, 2 slices whole wheat toast <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 oz. Grains, 1 cup Fruits, 1 cup Dairy <strong>What I Thought:</strong> A solid breakfast, though I'm getting a little tired of all this toast.

  • Wednesday Lunch

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> A goat cheese-avocado sandwich & a side of kale with anchovy vinaigrette from Wichcraft <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 oz. Grains, 1 cup Vegetables, 1 3/4 cups Dairy, 1 oz. Protein Foods, 3 tsp. Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> I think I could get a more delicious meal for 800 calories

  • Wednesday Snack

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 2 sushi rolls: one hamachi, one tuna <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 oz. Grains, 2 oz. Protein Foods <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Nothing wrong here, though it was a strange thing to eat at 6 pm. (And a necessity for my grain and protein requirements.)

  • Wednesday Appetizer

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 3/4 cup quinoa with balsamic vinaigrette <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 1/2 oz. Grains, 2 tsp. Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> This was actually totally gross, so I only ate maybe half of what you see in this photo, forcing me to fall short of my grain requirement for the day.

  • Wednesday Dinner

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Grilled boneless skinless chicken breast, sauteed spinach with ginger, sauteed mushrooms with garlic, mashed sweet potatoes with nutmeg <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 3/4 cups Vegetables, 3 oz. Protein Foods <strong>What I Thought:</strong> A very tasty meal, but frankly, everything would have been better with salt and butter.

  • Wednesday Dessert

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 1 banana roasted with butter and brown sugar, 3 tablespoons homemade whipped cream <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 3/4 cup Fruits <strong>What I Thought:</strong> This was heaven!

  • Wednesday's Food Group Tally

    I guess this was my worst day so far, when it comes to the food groups. I fell short in everything -- probably because this was the first day I didn't plan rigorously in advance.

  • Wednesday's Nutrients

    I'm pretty sure it's impossible to eat just 2300 milligrams of sodium in a day. I'm really, really going to try tomorrow, but it seems absurd.

  • Thursday Breakfast

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong> 1 grapefruit, 1 3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal, 2 slices whole wheat toast <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 5½ oz. Grains, 3/4 cup Fruits <strong>What I Thought:</strong> A little heavy on the starch, but this is a delicious way to cut grapefruit.

  • Thursday Noontime Snack

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong> 2 cut up bell peppers, 4 tablespoons hummus <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1½ cups Vegetables, 1½ ounces Protein Foods, 1 teaspoon Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> I forgot how great this combo could be.

  • Thursday Taste Test

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong>A smattering of crackers, cookies and cereals for a HuffPost Taste story -- essentially a couple morsels from each of these bowls. <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 ounce Grains <strong>What I Thought:</strong> I wasn't sure how to classify this, so I just pretended it was 6 Ritz crackers when I put it in the system.

  • Thursday Lunch

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong>1 baked potato, plain <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 cup Vegetables <strong>What I Thought:</strong> This was super pathetic. I love potatoes, but when baked, they need a little something -- sour cream, hot sauce, salt, butter, cheese, bacon, all of the above -- to make them sing.

  • Thursday Happy Hour

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong>1 cup hard apple cider <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1/2 cup Fruits <strong>What I Thought:</strong> The USDA apparently hasn't heard of hard cider, so I put this in the system as 12 oz. of beer plus 1/2 apple cider.

  • Thursday Appetizer

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong>2 of these Serbian flatbreads with Serbian cheese from Kafana in the East Village <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 3 ounces Grains, ½ cup Dairy <strong>What I Thought:</strong> This was the best thing I ate all week... like the quintessence of a bagel with cream cheese. If you find yourself on Avenue C in Manhattan, pop in for this!

  • Thursday Dinner

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong>Half this mixed grilled pork plate and grilled squash & onions at Kafana in the East Village <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 6 ounces Protein Foods, 1 cup vegetables <strong>What I Thought:</strong> I normally love pork, but honestly, after a few days of eating semi-lite, this was an intense thing to eat.

  • Thursday Dessert

    <strong>What I Ate: </strong>Frozen yogurt with blackberries <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1¼ cups Dairy, 1/2 cup Fruits <strong>What I Thought:</strong> It was refreshing AND it counted toward my onerous dairy requirement. Perfect!

  • Thursday Bedtime Drink

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> A tall glass of organic 1% fat milk <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 ¼ cup Dairy <strong>What I Thought:</strong> OK, I'm officially sick of dairy. I'm crying uncle.

  • Thursday's Food Group Tally

    Considering that I ate out for dinner at a serious restaurant, not bad.

  • Thursday's Nutrients

    Dinner & frozen yogurt drove me way over on my "empty calories" category, but the rest was just fine.

  • Friday Breakfast

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Quick-cooking oatmeal with a glass of milk <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 oz. Grains, 1¼ cup Dairy <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Not so bad

  • Friday Lunch Appetizer #1

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Steamed bun with smoked duck at Momofuku Ssam Bar <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 ounces Grains, 1 ounce Protein Foods <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Awesome, obviously

  • Friday Lunch Appetizer #2

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 2 fried duck wontons at Momofuku Ssam Bar <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 ounces Grains, 1 ounce Protein FOods <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Delicious

  • Friday Lunch Appetizer #3

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Mixed pickles at Momofuku Ssam Bar <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1 cup Vegetables <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Awesome and nutritious!

  • Friday Lunch

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Rice with roast duck, chive pancake, lettuce and (unpictured) a side of pickles <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 3 ounces Grains, 4½ ounces Protein Foods, ½ cup Vegetables <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Amazing, obviously

  • Friday Snack

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 2 cups raw pineapple <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 2 cups Fruits <strong>What I Thought:</strong> A very easy, delicious way to knock out my fruit portion in one sitting.

  • Friday Appetizer

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Roast beets with lentils and goat cheese at The Good Fork <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1½ cups Vegetables, ½ cup Dairy <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Yummy, and not bad in terms of health <em>Note: Photo on its way!</em>

  • Friday Dinner

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Leftover broccoli from Momofuku Ssam <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1½ cups Vegetables <strong>What I Thought:</strong> If you're going to eat broccoli, you may as well do it in style.

  • Friday's Food Group Tally

    This was the one day where I really fell short a food group. Of course it was dairy.

  • Friday's Nutrients

    It's possible (if not likely) this underestimated my actual intake, considering I ate out so much.

  • Saturday Brunch

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Crazy homemade breakfast burrito with whole wheat tortilla, melted cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs with chicken sausage, black beans, avocado, sriracha and Greek yogurt <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 1½ oz Grains, 1½ cups Vegetables, 1 ¾ cups Dairy, 4 oz. Protein Foods, 3 tsp. Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> I was curious to see how many food groups I could cram into one tortilla, and this was the answer. It tasted TERRIFIC -- albeit, at over 1000 calories, very caloric.

  • Saturday Hors D'Oeuvres #1

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Some crackers <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> ½ ounce Grains <strong>What I Thought:</strong> I mean, you've had crackers before.

  • Saturday Hors D'Oeuvres #2

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> A few chunks of cheese <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> ½ cup Dairy <strong>What I Thought:</strong> You've had cheese before, too.

  • Saturday Cocktail

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> Tequila with grapefruit juice <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> ¾ cup Fruits <strong>What I Thought:</strong> Does the tequila cancel out the servings of fruit in the juice? Unclear.

  • Saturday Dinner

    <strong>What I Ate:</strong> 2 cups white rice, 1 1/2 cups zucchini, corn & tomato salad, a few pieces chicken with mole poblano plus, unpictured, some tortilla and black beans <strong>What That Counts As:</strong> 5 ½ ounces Grains, 2 ½ cups Vegetables, 3 ounces Protein Foods, 1 tsp. Oils <strong>What I Thought:</strong> I felt extremely spartan taking so little meat when eating over at a friend's house.

 

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