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You can take the Student out of Grad School ... - F*cking with Clusters

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Previous Entry You can take the Student out of Grad School ... Jan. 26th, 2027 @ 02:40 pm Next Entry
I think I've inadvertently tuned my brain to tie malnutrution to academic progress. Something like "Hmm, I'm getting fed sugar-water and espresso. If I think, I get fed better food much sooner".


Case in point: after a pretty slow academic beginning this week, the last 2 days I actually made some thought-progress on my problem. The major differences seem to be the food I eat during the workday (breakfast and lunch). For your amusement (and possibly my medical records):
  • Wednesday: 1/4 of an avocado and a Coke.
  • Thursday: Half a can of Coke and about a 5th of a Milky Way Midnight bar.
  • Friday: A bit of Coke and half a can of tuna with salt and pepper and mint leaves sprinkled on it

(and just so no one is worried, I've been eating most of a Chipotle burrito for dinner every night :-) )


I should do a meta-study on the effects of grad student food on grad students. Have any of you experienced not being able to work as efficiently when you're well fed?
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From:porfinn
Date:January 26th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
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Oh yes! I do much better when my stomach is mostly empty. I tend to eat too much at one time and I can feel all the blood rushing to my tum and then I go comatose. Food slows me down. I can go long stretches without eating, but I would probably do better if I ate a little bit every couple of hours instead of actual meals, since I tend to like to eat more than I actually need too; I am a horrible glutten. I just have too much capacity. I read some books by Roy Walford (main claim to fame is researching calorie restriction and being the doctor involved in one of the bio-dome projects). In one of them he claims that is why it is hard to indentify someone with anerexia nervosa. He claims that there is a stage in the disease where the body is making up for caloric deficiencies by using what is available as optimally as possible. This optimum calorie distribution allegedly, for a short time, makes the victim look radiantly healthy, thus camouflaging a serious health condition, and making it hard for the family to believe anything is wrong.
I have experimented with limiting my caloric intake to 1200-1300 calories as recommended by Dr. Walford and I have really enjoyed the tremendous amount of energy and focus I seemed to have. Unfortunately, I really like food. Oh well. Probably more of an answer on this particular subject than you wanted, but a couple of years ago I got frustrated at people grumbling about my eating habits and decided to find a way to stop them (my mother) from pestering me. Dr. Walford's research was very handy.
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From:avani
Date:January 26th, 2007 11:48 pm (UTC)
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For me, its type/nutrition much more than number of calories. When I'm eating "well", I'm having rice and vegetables and yogurt, with v8 or something equally nutritious, or I'm doing soup and a salad (and a Coke or chai) .

I've always been a no-breakfast, light lunch, lots of dinner person :-)

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From:porfinn
Date:January 26th, 2007 11:41 pm (UTC)
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Not to say that I am necessarily supporting a 1/2 an avocado (or Milky Way Bar) and a coke as fine substenance for a whole day ;). I know that much sugar on a very empty stomach would make me very sick, though the halucinations might be interesting. I don't always process sugar well.
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From:goteam
Date:January 27th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
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Oh lady. If I get into public health and nutrition grad school, I am *so* doing projects about nerd food. The whole "Look how hard I'm neglecting myself because I'm sooooo devoted to my work!" phenomenon? Probably a Ph.D. thesis right there. Also something about all the freaks who think their time is so valuable they should never cook their own food for economic reasons. But then again, I've never been so awesomely paid that eating out was cheaper, not anywhere I wanted to eat anyway, and besides I like cooking. And now I will shut up before this turns into a major rant.
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From:goteam
Date:January 27th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
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Er, and, um, I definitely don't do so well if I'm eating poorly, which might be why I get so cranky about people who are macho about self-neglect (and to get back to ranting on the freaks who always eat out, I sincerely doubt they're factoring nutritional costs into their decisions, but again since they don't like to cook they probably wouldn't make very healthy food at home). Lately I've been worrying that I might be a tad hypoglycemic (and do NOT get me started on the freaking family history of Type 2 diabetes), but the good news is that regular exercise seems to be helping with the blood sugar swings and also makes me crave healthier food (and in particular less sugary stuff, so yay!)
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From:avani
Date:January 27th, 2007 01:20 am (UTC)
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The whole "Look how hard I'm neglecting myself because I'm sooooo devoted to my work!" phenomenon? Probably a Ph.D. thesis right there.

Ymmv, but I've noticed a lot of that is honest absent-mindedness. If I forget to eat, it doesn't necessarily mean I was working hard. It could be that I got caught up in work and thought I'd do just one more thing, and then all of a sudden its dinner time, and its silly to eat twice in succession. Or, I could be sitting outside reading a book and forget to eat just as easily :-P. I'm sure there are people who claim on the rooftops how they got through n years on black coffee and light cigarettes, but that feels like the exception.

Also something about all the freaks who think their time is so valuable they should never cook their own food for economic reasons.

Again, playing devil's advocate: If you're independently employed and making $50/hour, you're a lot better off hiring someone to deliver meals to you than cooking yourself. Or, on a different twist, if you are a company with highly paid salaried workers, it may be better to give them food for free and take away the incentive to leave the company early and go home to make food. I hang out with a lot of Googlers who have pretty much convinced me that there exists a group of people that are better off not cooking.

(I hope that you see I'm arguing mostly for the sake of the point... Personally, I don't mean to say "look at me I work so hard I eat like crap", I love cooking, and my time is worth on the order of $6/hour for at least the next 3-4 years :-P )
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From:goteam
Date:January 27th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
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On account of I know you're playing the devil's advocate, and because I don't particularly like arguing, all I'll say is that if your work regularly makes it so you can't afford to take the time to cook (or take care of yourself in other ways; even I have been forced to admit that there are plenty of people who just don't like cooking and never will) then maybe you're working too hard. And on that note, I'm going to get the hell away from the computer and start playing in the kitchen instead now.
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From:cywrain
Date:January 28th, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)

Nope.

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My experiences run counter to your own, I'm afraid. My academic progress improved, or was at least much easier, when I started dating D. and he was making me wonderful, elaborate dinners every time we got together. He also gave me a rather strong incentive to dedicate more hours to sleep, which no doubt contributed to keeping my stress level fairly low (always a help).

I can't go without breakfast, or I don't feel well. Even nowadays I'm much more likely go skip lunch and/or dinner than breakfast. I think 95% of my grad school breakfasts were bagels with cream cheese. Lunches... now lunches were frequently vending machine food. Combos were a big favorite, as were rice krispies treats. I also purchased fried food from the local eateries when I had had the time and money.

I remember also getting headaches when I went to long without eating---never helpful to writing coherently.



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From:amoken
Date:January 29th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
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I have experienced both that and the opposite phenomenon. If I am overfed, I cannot do much quickly. If I am underfed, I cannot do much quickly. In between those extremes, I may or may not keep up with the food demand, but as long as I keep up with the blood sugar (soda and candy can be helpful), I can produce good work at a reasonable-for-me rate, and also not feel like crap. Occasionally my body redefines over- and under-feeding, so that I will eat nothing or everything for a few days, and any deviation from that will feel like murder. In other words, it varies. :)
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