This is a tale of an exploration of sin, not for the intrinsic pleasure it provides, but to satisfy curiosity. I did not commit myself to an unusual task attempting to attain fame, gain recognition for some cause or benefit humanity in some deluded way. I did this simply because I could, and what I did was set out to eat only gas station food for a month. Why, being the most obvious question in your information-greedy mind, is the one I’ll address first.
I had a roommate. When she moved out, a mutual friend suggested that as the result of my own sloth I’d likely fail to purchase real food for myself and succumb to the convenience of the gas station across the street for sustenance. Curiosity piqued, I wondered if someone could really live off of the food-like substances offered by gas stations, convenience stores and other places selling prepared foods.
As summer set in, I found myself with a startling amount of unallocated time and I began to lust for a challenge. What began as a silly hypothetical situation started to seem like a fun diversion. I decided to try living on gas station food alone for one month and drew up rules for what would or would not be allowed. I decided that I would not eat any food that wasn’t sold prepared. Allowing for the consumption of fast food was a slight concession that I felt did not compromise the spirit of the challenge — deep fried corn fritters can hardly be considered real food.
The gas station challenge morphed into a packaged food challenge. The first day was uneventful, as a breakfast of ice cream escorted me to the palace of gluttony I would reside in for the following week. It was almost enjoyable, not having to worry about when or what I would eat. However, eating was something I found myself fixated on later in the second day. I felt the need to eat, despite a sharp increase in my food expenditure and what felt like a replete abdomen indicating otherwise. It quickly became apparent that fake meals are much less filling and I found myself buying obscene amounts of food I didn’t want in an attempt to satisfy a deeper hunger than any I had ever felt before.
I was surprised how unsatisfying ketchup chips and cola became when I ate them not as a snack but as a primary source of sustenance. It didn’t take long for all the foods I was allowed to look unappealing and inedible. By the second day my ability to perceive flavours was altered, the beverages comprised almost entirely of sugar that I had grown dependant on were no longer noticeably sweet. While flavours were beginning to fade, interesting trends arose in the colours of my food. Edible items fell into two categories: they were either incredibly brightly coloured like a digestible box of crayons or, as was the case with the golden-brown cuisine of a local fried chicken depot, all the same caramelized carbohydrate derived orange hue.
After a mere four days I started to feel ill, but not in the way I would have guessed. You too have probably experienced the uncomfortable sensation of sugar and caffeine sustained consciousness, either in the course of an all-nighter, LAN party, television marathon or other event necessitating your attention for more hours than you could reasonably give. It was like that, only worse, and it would not subside with any amount of sleep or food substitute. I needed to accomplish what I had set out to do and the only thing that kept me going was my pride.
Then I started gagging. It was not expected, or provoked; I was in my kitchen preparing a glass of crystal based orange inspired drink when I began to retch uncontrollably for about 30 seconds. This was not part of the plan. On what was the fifth and final day, upon seeing the people around me not overcome by the illness I had self induced, I became envious. I decided to give up. The decision to eat real food provided new found energy and, had it not been for apathy, would have incited me to even do groceries. Due to the food-induced laziness and my own sloth, I put off for tomorrow what I could have done that day, making me last a total of five days on prepared foods. My first meal after was a stir fry, and it was good.
Sample “Diet” Diary-- DAY ONE
Chocolate Häagen-Dazs (3.5 cups): 1,890 calories, 196% daily fat
Red Bull (1): 110 calories
Oh Henry! (1): 263 calories, 20% daily fat
Kechtup chips (small bag): 300 calories, 25% daily fat
Pepsi (355 mL): 150 calories
Blizzard (Oreo, medium): 680 calories, 25% daily fat
Fried Chicken (4 pieces): 1,280 calories, 125% daily fat
Fries (Medium): 427 calories, 35% daily fat
Donuts (2): 360 calories, 24% daily fat
Tang (1 litre): 92 calories
Total: 5,552 calories, 450% daily fat
Note: All figures from half-assed Google searches.