The journalist diet
Mondays tend to be long days for me. Not only am I catching up on weekend and Friday business, but twice a month, the school board meets several times throughout the day and from 6-? at night. I spend the day running from office to meeting to office to meeting, feeding my belly when I can.
I thought last Monday’s 10 a.m. meeting went until noon, so I didn’t pack a lunch. At the meeting, I noticed the agenda said it went until 3 p.m. Whoops. Fortunately, I always carry granola bars in case of such emergencies.
Back at work, I tweeted about finally eating lunch at 3:30 p.m., with the #journalistdiet tag. Conversation ensued, on Twitter and in real life. What does the stereotypical journalist diet look like?
When you’re busy with meetings, breaking news and late deadlines, who has time to think about food? And — shocker! — journalists aren’t rich enough to eat out for every meal. Food/beverage choices must be made wisely, to reap the most benefits for least cost.
So here’s a sample journalist diet pyramid, drafted in about 20 minutes, based on first-hand observation and interviews with colleagues. (If any of my graphics friends would like to make a better one, go at it.)
Convenience foods (6-11 servings): Convenience is king. This level is the base of the journalist diet. All foods are ready to eat or ready to eat in a few minutes, making them optimal food choices when sitting at a desk as well as at the wheel of a car. I once worked with a reporter who I swear only ate Cheetos and drank Mountain Dew. She also never gained weight.
Caffeine (5-6 servings): Some might argue that caffeine should be the base, but remember — these are only suggestions. Many journalists exceed the recommended servings. That’s why Starbucks sells 31 oz cups of coffee. And why I buy the 24 oz cups at the Loaf n’ Jug down the road.
Free baked goods (4-5 servings): Mondays after holidays, birthday parties, are prime times for leftover baked goods to end up in the newsroom. Brownies, cupcakes, cookies — anything people indulged too much in and want out of their house — appear on a table in an open space between editorial and advertising. Act quick — everything’s usually gone within 5 minutes of an office email announcement.
Cake (2-3 servings): Cake appears in the newsroom every other month or so for birthdays, retirements, people moving to other jobs. Even if the newsroom is full of other free baked goods, there’s always room for cake.
Booze (2-3 servings): Reporters don’t keep flasks in their desks these days (unless they’re holding out on me) but most tend to enjoy an adult beverage or several after a long day probing inside others lives, especially if “others” includes child molesters and slimy politicians. It’s not always about getting drunk — I’ve had some of the best conversations with fellow journalists over just one beer or glass of wine.
Election night pizza! The one night of the year when you don’t have to worry about being fed because you’re working all night. For inexplicable reasons, the ordinary Papa John’s or Domino’s becomes the tastiest dinner you’ve had in weeks. Then again, if you’ve been following the journalist diet, it might be.
It is possible to live according to the journalist diet, but I don’t know of any doctors who would recommend it.