Tom Tom Tries: The Five-Factor Diet

The popular Jewel supermarket is bustling with people. Sounds of debit and credit cards swiping and cash being moved between fingers fills the air. With each beep of the cash register, the final price climbs up for what feels like forever. The cart rattles to the end of the belt when the three digit number appears on the screen; nevertheless, it’s not my 15-year-old self that slides the chip into the reader, but the adult alongside me. On the way out, workers give their necessary smiles and “genuine,” “have a good day.” It’s when the sliding doors open that those three numbers slip out of our minds.

Dietitians Megan Medrano and Sara Petty agree that economic status is an important part of someone’s diet as there are more factors that go into what a person eats than one’s preferences. Meals are also extremely dependent on whether or not the person can afford the food. There is also the aspect of if they are able to get to the store and the distance between them and the nearest supermarket. I for one had never thought of these factors being a part of dieting, but that week had made me think way differently than I had originally assumed.

The Five Factor Diet is one created by professional trainer Harley Pasternak. Five meals are cooked a day with five ingredients falling under five categories: fiber, healthy fats, protein, complex carbohydrates and sugar free drinks. I followed this for an entire school week. Exercise also plays a role in the diet, but with ten hours of weekly after-school practice for my sport and 50 minutes of daily physical education, I decided against it being necessary. The plan was to make two separate meal plans, alternating between them each day. Instead of making 25 different kinds of meals, it was decided to make only ten unique meals spanning over the five days. Nevertheless, I did eat five meals a day for five days. I had always thought eating less came into play to lose weight. I found that I was most definitely wrong. After talking to junior wrestler Alexander Barbarise who constantly has to lose weight, he told me it can be hard to deal with following a strict diet, but his dream and love of wrestling, was enough to keep him going. I hadn’t done this for a sport or for weight loss, but there was still a part of me who did have a dream, and it was to beat this diet no problem.

Nevertheless, the first day was a lot tougher than I had imagined. Breakfast had already been hard to choke down; cheerios with non-fat yogurt and avocado toast. This is a normal, healthy breakfast, but I can’t stand yogurt. Health means sacrificing what one actually enjoys and for me that had started at 9 a.m. I pushed through it and waited three hours until my next meal at noon. I thought it’d be easy to do so and that I’d be too full to eat even three hours later. Contradictory to that belief, I was starving. I hadn’t realized how dependent I was on snacking. The next meal at 3 p.m., a salad with chicken, was a saving grace to the black hole that was my stomach; however, just an hour after eating I was awaiting my next meal. It was just a sandwich, which to me, was basically nothing compared to the war going on inside me. The “first” dinner at 6 p.m. was alfredo pasta with chicken and the second was a turkey breast with a sweet potato and fruit. The last meal landed at 9:30 p.m. Everything I’d ever heard of not eating after 8 p.m. flew out the window when trying to fit in my fifth and final meal of that day. At that point I wasn’t hungry because on a normal day I eat way before then. I usually eat at noon, after school and around 8 p.m. All if this is caused by my hunger cues, which control when my body gets hungry throughout a day.

It was on the second day that I experienced situations I hadn’t yet planned for in advance. I was hanging out with friends when they began to bring out the unhealthy snacks and sugar-filled desserts. The worst of it all was when they were enjoying a film on the couch and I was forced to cook a meal again at 9:30 p.m. It felt weird to not be a part of that, for I had never had to restrict myself from an experience such as that one. I couldn’t help but think about those people whose diets control their lives when I’m doing this for only five days. Some think of dieting as the backbone of losing weight or that it is necessary to do it to become skinnier. Medrano said that weight loss isn’t the only requirement to achieve health. Instead, it is vital to look at someone’s health in all sections because the big picture is more important when talking about a person’s overall health.

All the things I had learned genuinely changed me after the week was over. It may sound cliché, but even the smallest things make a difference. The last three days were different compared to the first two. Instead of following the very specific plan I had created for myself, I had started to become more flexible with my meals as time continued. I became bored with eating the same thing; therefore, I started having more spontaneity with what I was eating.

 

I made sure to follow all the criteria, but enjoy what I was eating. Instead of making the same turkey breast day in and day out, I’d cook salmon or anything in the protein category as a replacement. Another thing I learned was that I love to cook. It was a change of pace to come home and make something on the stove instead of in the microwave. There were clear differences felt when pulling several spices out of the cabinets compared to milk out of the fridge and a random box of cereal from the pantry. This diet isn’t meant to be a teenage learning experience, but a weight loss journey several people choose to travel. My weight loss, if it can even be called that, was by one, singular pound. With that information, I’ve come to the realization that this change in eating has absolutely nothing to do with that; weight fluctuates up and down all the time. This diet was made to stretch over a five week time period, which I had obviously not done; however, there is no doubt that a diet should consist of more than just losing weight. What I realized was that this diet, at least for me, has never really been about losing weight. Instead, it’s been about realizing that doing something that may not be the best for me, such as enjoying a bag of chips, is okay.