Diet and Lifestyle: A Change Experiment

This post is not explicitly related to education, but is something I found particularly fascinating as it is related to how people change and - as I'm known to espouse - that learning is change, and the more we understand about how people change, the more we understand about how people learn.


For the weeks of May 19th to June 17th, I wrote down how many grams of carbs, proteins, and fats I consumed, as well as the total calorie of each food consumed. I wanted to know how food influences lifestyle, and how changing what I eat might change aspects of my lifestyle.

I had done a lot of reading on the types of carbohydrates in different kinds of foods, the purpose of different kinds of proteins, and the benefits of different kinds of fats in a wide variety of diets and its impact on different people with different diet goals. I knew that limiting my experiment to macro-nutrients was limiting the kind of conclusions I'd be able to make, but I felt it was a reasonable start to experimenting on the impact my own diet may be having on my own lifestyle.

I consider there to be seven elements to a lifestyle (or culture), and I'll address only three of these elements here. The first has to do with Structural Relationships, or the power dynamics of defined relationships in specific groups of people (e.g. families, schools, community groups, etc.) - who makes decisions for a group is a primary indicator for this kind of power dynamic and is often based on how we define a particular relationship (e.g. parent-child, teacher-student, preacher-congregation, etc.). The second element has to do with Government, or decision-making structures for a group of people. This element in smaller groups often overlaps with the element Structural Relationships and becomes more distinct as you apply it to larger groups and organizations. The third element has to do with Customs and Traditions - the habits we form based on the ideas we value about how people should or should not behave.

When I began this experiment, I had a fairly consistent basis for these elements. My relationships with those I had immediate and constant interaction were well-defined and decisions made between myself and those individuals were mutual and beneficial to our particular relational connection (e.g. wife, cousin, friend, brother, etc.). The governmental perspective by which I typically chose to engage in group decisions was primarily more democratically egalitarian, where executive decisions were to be made based on consensus rather than the preference of the person making the decision. As for customs and traditions, I had developed fairly consistent habits related to my diet that included morning rituals and tendencies for certain behaviors that favored work over healthy food choices, and times of play allowing for higher rates of indulgences (e.g. fast food and candy).


For the first few days, I didn't change what I ate and simply tracked the macro data of my existing diet. I quickly found that I was consuming about 2200-2400 calories, which was relatively appropriate for my age, height, and weight. The data showed I consumed about twice as many carbs as proteins and about as much if not more fat than protein. This was primarily due to my eating handfuls of various nuts, huge chunks of cheese, and large amounts of milk I would consume randomly throughout a given day. I'd also occasionally purchase random processed foods (fast food and candy) while out driving around or at a social activity with friends.