Trapped by convenience
48-hour vending machine diet challenge leaves bad taste
Who doesn’t love a ham sandwich?
Maybe the person who found out the sandwich in question came from a vending machine and had two times the daily intake of sodium to keep it… fresh.
The only available food on the Mount Royal University campus after 8 p.m. on weekdays is what you can find in a vending machine. So for all who’ve ever found themselves hunting for a meal during a late-night cram, I decided to see if I could live on what these glowing coin altars had to offer.
I lasted 48 hours.
When I decided to consult a nutritionist regarding my trek; her answer was as I expected.
“I would highly recommend against eating anything from a vending machine,” said Lynn Lafave, a nutritionist at Mount Royal.
Almost immediately after starting the diet, I noticed my mood begin to deteriorate.
My distaste — no, total hatred — for vending machines began after ingesting a sweaty hoagie with enough salt to kill a sailor.
This is what I had to look forward to? Sulfate-laden treats delivered in vacuum-sealed mystery bags?
This experience continued into the evening when I was prodded on by a bison and Gouda meatloaf that my girlfriend was only too happy to enjoy in front of me.
Holding back from the smell of that steaming ground carcass made me feel like a hunter without a spear, but at least they didn’t have to worry about clogged arteries.
By the second day, eating had already become a task I loathed and feared; especially after already trying the three varieties of sandwiches the machines by the library had to offer.
If you’re studying and not up-and-about, Lafave suggested it’s better to refrain from snacking than to eat from a vending machine. This is something I seriously considered when faced with continuing to consume the dreaded machine fare.
I felt like I was alone in this quest — not because I was doing it by myself, but because my peers constantly forgot I was attempting it. When I complained about being hungry, they would try to feed me. When I was standing in line with them, they’d offer me food.
At 8 p.m. on day two my girlfriend — who by now resembled something closer to a kebab than a human – said the word steak to me.
That was it.
I gladly accepted defeat in favour of the warm, perfectly marbled slab of cow in my mouth.
Calories are what most people think about when starting to diet. Not necessarily an accurate measure of health, but a starting point nonetheless. I should be eating around 2,500 calories per day, according to my body weight of 237 pounds.
My average for the two days was significantly lower at 2,250 calories.
This caught me off guard. I expected that eating sugary and salty meals would lead to a caloric overload and eventual gut explosion. Instead, I ended up being hungry and deflated from the lack of energy the diet afforded me.
The most appalling statistic in this study was my sodium intake. A healthy diet should include no more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day according to “Eat this, not that,” an online dieting tool. My vending machine salt intake was nearly three times more than that.
Lafave added that continuing this level of sodium intake could eventually end in kidney failure — a fact that left me constantly nauseous and clawing for water.
“People eat for energy, but there’s a difference between being energized and just eating for the sake of it,” Lafave said. She added that anything you eat from home would have higher nutritional value then something from a vending machine.
I was constantly hungry for two days no matter how much I ate and my mood turned toxic more quickly then I could have ever guessed.
In university, students are often faced with making convenient choices due to the time of day. After this test, I wouldn’t recommend vending machine food for happiness and fulfillment.
• Best discovery: A machine totally dedicated to the dispensary
• Most unexpected item: boiled eggs
• Weirdest ingredient: “various sulfates”
• Average cost of meal: $11.00, totalling 70.25 over two days
• Disturbing fact: high sodium intake can ultimately end in kidney failure