Published: Fall 2005
You've probably heard of a condition called mid-life crisis. It's an emotional state of doubt and anxiety in which a person becomes uncomfortable with the realization that life is halfway over. Today I'm not discussing mid-life crisis, I'm discussing mid-day crisis. Mid-day crisis is an emotional state of disarray and hunger in which a person becomes uncomfortable with the realization that they didn't prepare an adequate mid-day meal. It's quite common in this modern world, most profound in the late grade school and college levels.
Remember when... Remember when we were kids we had to pack a sack lunch for school, if not we might have bought lunch with the money our parents gave us. Most kids back in the day packed lunches that might have contained items like sandwiches, chips or crunchies, and dessert goodies like cookies, oatmealish pies or swiss cake rolls. The beverage was usually bought at school cold [Cola, Gatorade, Milk]. Lunch was simple when we were kids, even more simple for the kids whose parents packed their lunches.
You probably stopped packing a complete lunch sometime long before highschool. It really didn't matter because the lunch we ate when we were kids sucked balls anyway. When I was in highschool I noted that most of the students either A) Bought a combination of three large Otis Spunkmeyer cookies and a gatorade. B) Bought a full lunch and only picked at the main course, while eating the whole pile fries. Or C) Didn't eat lunch. Eating habits like these are why people get uglier each year. The sad thing is that these piss poor eating habits carry over later in life. Post highschool people just drop by a fast food restaurant since they aren't bound to the building. Great! Just great! Where is our salvation from the mid-day crisis?!
Yeah, fitting in the time to prepare a healthy lunch everyday of a five day work or school week is a real bitch. Unfortunately the mid-day lunch crisis sticks with you until you break it. The schedule has nothing to do with your reluctance to fit in the time to prepare; Don't think you'll start eating better when your schedule changes, you gotta do it now! Break the mold of neglect you cast yourself into and make a healthy lunch part of everyday. Let's get going, I have a couple tasks to start you off on the right foot:
Accomplishing task #1 and #2 serves two purposes - it provides us a way to eat cold and hot meals away from home. This provides us with any healthy eating option we want at the mid-day point. Anything is now game. Baked chicken? Kept in the cooler and eaten cold or reheated. Oatmeal? Add water and microwave. Potatoes? Sliced and steamed, kept fresh in the cooler and eaten as the baked chicken (cold or reheated). Cottage cheese?! Yeah, kept in the cooler and ... let's not microwave it (I don't want to know what happens). So you see, now your options are nearly limitless - So get yourself out of the mindset that you have to manage with what's available at the mid-day point by eating half-ass meals, you can eat healthy anytime you want. Anytime. Anytime. Anytime. Anytime. Get it? What do you think you should be eating? What would you eat if you were at your house? Think about it for a moment.
Rule #1 Use every damn minute you have to your advantage
Let's see, you could eat breakfast at... say 7:30 A.M. That's late for most people. Lunch time is usually around 12:00 PM or later? So most people go 4-5 hours in between breakfast and lunch. Ummm... That sucks. Ideally we should eat every 2-3 hours, 4 hours being tops in between meals during waking hours. So I recommend eating a snack in between breakfast and lunch, and for those people who have long days ending later nearing early evening, another snack after lunch before whatever else is next (dinner or training for example).
When I was in school, for my pre-lunch meal I used to open, drain in the trash cans, and stuff cans of tuna in between class. I can't tell you how many times I nearly chocked to death when I had five minutes to get to my locker, manage that, and still get to my next class on time. I mean ~ I'd have to stuff it so fast I'd sit the first ten minutes of class trying to swallow! People used to think it was pretty funny, others hated the smell. I managed to eat the other things to go along with this small meal at the beginning of class. So use every minute to your advantage!
Rule #2 Bend and break the school food and drink policies
Eating and drinking during class prohibited? BULLSHIT! I had a great time in school getting by these
rules simply because I was cunning, cocky, and... hungry. Start by testing your teachers. See which ones are easy going with the food and drink policies and use that to your advantage. Sometimes you have to start small and work your way to bigger meals (Bananas are easier to peel and eat than sitting in class carving a pineapple).
One time I decided to make a tuna fish sandwich and eat it in class. So I started it off and the teacher was strongly offended by the smell (she was diabetic and the smell made her nauseous). So I was banished to the men's room to finish my meal. I remember standing in an empty bathroom looking over the urinals as I made my way through the sandwich, laughing the whole time about the situation. But, I still got to eat it! Some teachers weren't as lenient on the food and drink policy, so I snuck what I wanted every chance. I never got caught in those cases. So the take home message here is: The rules, fuck em. Do what you need to do and eat what you want, when you want it. But do it well or you'll be both hungry and in trouble.
#1 The water fountain is your fountain of anti-catabolism
I wish I had thought of this before I went the entire year jamming cans of tuna down my throat in between class. For simplicity, just take a shaker and a scoop of whey - fill up the shaker in a water fountain or sink - combine - shake - drink. Easy eh? Perfect for a snack or an addition to rounding out your daily caloric needs. In this case, whey truly is a supplement.
#2 Mix sources
Sometimes, yes, and only sometimes, campus cafeterias serve some things that can fit into your diet. For example, at my highschool they served pasta a few days a week. I'm talking about just cooked noodles, they had a vat of sauce on the side. Things like this aren't bad options for your lunch. So check to see what your cafeteria is offering, it might help complete your mid-day meal.
#3 Plan ahead of time
Five-day-work/school weeks suck. Instead of worrying what to pack every night, set some patterns up and pack a few days ahead of time. For example, if your snack before lunch everyday is tuna, nuts, and fruit, then partition five days worth of nuts into their own respective bags for each day. Then set aside five cans of tuna and your fruit for the week; In fact, just keep the tuna cans stacked with your own can opener in your locker like I did. This would take almost no time and would involve nothing but remembering to restock before the next week. For those in a work environment, use the staff refrigerator (No staff refrigerator? Pack your cooler!).
#4 Hall or bathroom pass
If you're in school and are hungry in the middle of class - get a hall pass, visit your locker, get your snack or whatever food you want, go somewhere safe and eat it. Return to class satiated and ready to focus on the educational tasks at hand! (Pshhhh)
So now, summarizations are always wildly popular in getting the points across. Defeat the mid-day crisis by remembering and/or doing these things:
You can eat ANYTHING you want ANYTIME you want, you have to reprogram your mind from thinking that the day limits your eating choices. The day DOES NOT limit your eating choices, you do. Eat what you want, when you want. It's possible to eat healthy anytime, now do it!
As I write this article, I've been enrolled in a community college for sometime now. The campus is a forty five minute drive, one way through traffic, from my house. My days are pretty long too. So how do I prepare for a full school day nowadays? I start preparing and cooking my usual breakfast, as I do this I also make a shake. I eat breakfast before heading out the door and drink the shake right before my first class (forty-five minute drive). About two hours later after my first two classes I eat my next meal. After the third class I eat again. So, waking at 7:00 AM - I will have eaten four meals by 12:00 PM. Overkill? Nope. Feed the machine.
Read the overview again and drill it into your head: You can eat ANYTHING you want ANYTIME you want, so eating good and healthy has nothing to do with your schedule or time limitations. Take the initiative, prepare and pack your food into your little cooler and brave the new world. A better fueled body performs better in any situation - BEAT THE MID-DAY CRISIS!