Any other "food neutrals" out there?


#1

Greetings Soylent people. I am currently doing some research for an article I’m writing that is about meal replacement diets, psychopathology, and (tangentially) Soylent. Full disclosure: I’m eagerly awaiting a shipment of Soylent myself, so I have a positive perspective on the whole idea. However, I feel like the general public is in severe need of education about what meal replacement diets are trying to accomplish. To that end, I’m trying to determine if in the medical community there’s any research out there about individuals who hold a “neutral” attitude toward food/eating, specifically people who “do not derive pleasure from eating,” and if there is, whether that attitude is viewed as an “undocumented” eating disorder in the DSM, or in the absence of such research, should be thought of as an enduring (read: unconscious/involuntary) behavior, like asexuality.

Do any of you have a neutral disposition toward food? Is the prospect of meal replacement diets attractive to you because of this disposition?

To give a fuller idea of what I mean by a neutral disposition toward food, here’s a summary of other qualities I’ve noticed about people with this attitude (myself included):

  • You don’t derive pleasure or pain from eating food; you’re more or less indifferent to the activity; you may experience pleasure from the taste of food or the satiety it provides when it’s eaten in the same way that sexual stimulation (say for an asexual) might be pleasurable if she were to experience it, but any pleasure you get from eating doesn’t override your indifference toward eating food in general. Furthermore, you may express preferences about certain types of food, food flavors, textures, and so on, but your food-specific preferences also don’t override your overall disinterest in eating.

  • You aren’t necessarily unhealthy, that is, nutrient-deficient, out-of-shape, obese, suffering from illnesses that affect digestion, etc and you also don’t seem to be suffering from psychological traumas (as far as you know or have been apprised).

  • You don’t seem to have an irregular appetite.

Any thoughts you have, or points of research you think I should check out would be much appreciated!

UPDATE: If you’d like to contribute to my research, please fill out the form below!


#2

I think my alignment is more like “food chaotic good” :wink:


#3

“do not derive pleasure from eating” absolutely describes me. I eat because if I don’t, I fall down. It is a necessary “evil” (though that’s clearly too strong a word…) and something I have wanted to do without as long as I can remember (I’ll be 41 in a couple weeks).

I hit all 3 of your points absolutely spot on. No question about it, I’m a “food neutral” LOL

My entire life, this has been a problem for everyone ELSE but not me. I’ve lost the association of family, friends, coworkers over it. I’ve been ostracized over it, shunned even. All because I simply choose to eat only a small selection of things, and have never eaten most foods everyone else eats, in my entire life (never had a pizza, never had a salad, never had any vegetable except for carrots & celery, etc. etc.)

Society has an absolutely huge problem with this, like most people can’t imagine. In the 80s (granted I was barely a teen at the time) I’d have gotten less of a reaction if I’d told people I was gay, than if I told them I “don’t eat”. Everyone else made such a freaking issue of this my whole life that it gave me something of a complex, and I go to moderate lengths now to avoid having to go out to eat with anyone other than my partner. Even among close friends… there is ALWAYS the issue of wanting to make sure I can get something to eat anywhere we plan to go, no matter how many times I tell them DO NOT PLAN FOOD AROUND ME!!!

So there you have it. If you want to discuss any of this with me privately, drop me a line.


#4

To quote the founders.

I Love food, I just don’t need 21 nice meals a week.


#5

I love food, I’m no good at making it though. And I hate my work’s cafeteria. I bought Soylent so I can avoid eating there. I will probably drink Soylent breakfast and lunch on weekdays. I might try a Soylent only diet for a few days just for the hell of it though. I wouldn’t consider full on Soylent long term unless there was more scientific studies on the safety of that.


#6

I’m somewhat food neutral. That age old question of if you could give up sleep or food I always answered food. It’s just a PITA aspect of life for me. I can/do enjoy tastes/textures, but have always preferred bland food, have many many foods I won’t eat and I’m impossible for people to plan meals around because there’s a lot of things I have no interest in eating or trying to eat.

Most of the time food for me is: I’m feeling weak due to having not eaten yet, I better eat something.

I have food cravings(sugar mostly), but I consider those addictions the same as if I was addicted to heroin or some other drug. Soda/sugar isn’t good for me, but it’s not a habit I can kick. Unlike heroin sugar is sold at every street corner and most friends will push it onto you.

I’m not unhealthy or anything but it takes real effort to plan/prepare proper meals because I don’t think about food ahead of time much. When I do plan I tend to just plan around 3-4 different meal types and eat them for weeks at a time. Like pork chops and green beans 4 times a week cooked/prepared the same way every time. A current favorite is cottage cheese. I’ll buy a couple large tubs of it at a time and usually for lunch I’ll just eat half a tub. Maybe throw in a banana. I probably rotate out the same 5-6 foods at a time each month, then maybe get a new food idea for the next month and just eat a lot of it that month replacing one of last month’s foods.

DIY Soylent has been great for me, except I can’t handle the texture of it for more than 25-50% of my meals. Really looking forward to the official Soylent. Ideally I’d prefer to replace 75%+ of my meals with Soylent for ease/better nutrition and then just have occasional muggle meals for texture/flavor/treat reasons. Sort of like how I’ll drink alcohol rarely or how I used to enjoy tobacco once every week or so(cigars before I got old enough for heart issues to finally kick in).


#7

@tsarna Makes me wonder what “food chaotic evil” would be. Psychic vegans?


#8

@vanclute This is exactly what I’d like to address in my article; has anyone else felt ostracized for their “food neutral” disposition? I think the reason why people react the way they do is because they don’t really understand what we feel, and we lack the terminology to easily describe it.


#9

@Rishkoi, @joemoe, @mark1 Interesting to hear these replies. It seems the preference for meal replacements like Soylent sit between convenience & some dimension of food neutrality.


#10

It’s interesting you use the word ‘meal replacement’ so heavily. In my opinion, Soylent isn’t a meal replacement, it’s a meal!
The fact that it’s not completely solid seems to make people think of it as more of an ‘ensure’ sort of thing, but in my opinion, the fact that Soylent is more nutritionally complete and balanced than MOST foods, say, a pizza, a burger, a sandwich, chips, steak, tofu, pretty much everything is good in its own right but probably lacks things that Soylent doesn’t. So why is Soylent less a ‘meal’ than those things, and suddenly a ‘meal replacement’? Maybe in the future people will call meals ‘Soylent Replacements’! Sounds silly but it sounds about as silly as calling Soylent a meal replacement to me.


#11

I love food, perhaps too much. However, I don’t tend to like anything even remotely healthy. The only plants I eat are potatoes (usually in the form of French fries), carrots (rarely), and rice/grains (usually white rice, breads, pastas). Onions are my arch enemy. I also don’t eat any kind of seafood. Typical meals for me are chicken (grilled, fried, whatever), burgers, hot dogs, pizza, hot pockets, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, ramen, and other pastas. There’s a pescatarian on my team at work. Between the two of us, our team has a difficult time finding a place to eat when we all go out for lunch together. Thankfully the sushi places all seem to have some kind of chicken and rice.

My interest in Soylent is to replace all the “crap meals” like hot pockets and fast food burgers, to have a quick, easy breakfast that’s not a donut, bagel, or pop-tart, and to get the vitamins/minerals/etc. that the rest of my diet lacks.

I don’t hate food, but I do hate the shopping, prep, cleanup, and waste that eating anything remotely healthy usually entails (I throw out ridiculous amounts of spoiled food).


#12

Well then, I can give you details of a lifetime’s experience with these issues. I’ve been the way I am since I was 2 (or so I’m told by family - I have no memory of that early obviously). Actually if anything my “range of food” has reduced as I’ve aged. I eat pretty much exactly the same things every single day, and was routinely told as a kid/teenager how I wasn’t going to be able to survive without eating __________ (fill in the blank - usually but not always meat. I have not ever eaten meat in my living memory).

It actually finally got to the point maybe 15 years ago that I went in for a physical, and told the doctor of everyone’s concerns about my diet and asked what he thought. After discussing what I ate, and after giving me a standard full physical, his determination was that I had absolutely nothing to worry about, was in excellent overall health, that my “limited” diet was still probably healthier than most people’s, and that if I was really worried it wouldn’t hurt to take a multivitamin. That was it for me, and I have not worried one second about my diet ever since.

Still, I would personally love to not have to deal with “food” at all (and everything that goes with it - gas and vehicle wear & tear to go shopping, electricity spent keeping stuff refrigerated, storage space occupied by dry goods, and on and on and on). Not to mention the attraction of knowing that I can take my “perfect food” with me absolutely anywhere - even on a plane!! All I need is water. (I once had a full brand new jar of peanut butter confiscated and thrown away at the airport because it was considered a “gel” and therefore could not be taken through security.)

Sure, if I were to go talk to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist I’m certain they would diagnose me with all manner of things described in the DSM and seek to medicate me straight away. “By the book” I’m sure I have any of several “eating disorders” but frankly it’s only an issue for people OTHER than myself. So who really has the problem? :smile:

One thing that Rob said that hugely resonated with me was about “food snobbery”. I’d never heard such a term before but I love it, and it’s absolutely true. I encounter it constantly, now that the “foodie movement” has become “a thing”. I couldn’t agree more that so much of today’s food-oriented lifestyle is just that - snobbery. And since I choose to opt out of participation in said snobbery, I get sh!t for it a lot.

Anyway, message me if you want any more specifics as I’m happy to discuss the topic with you.


#13

@LillyBaeum The language is definitely something I’m writing about as well. We don’t yet have the proper language to talk about this kind of alternative diet, I agree. Instead of meal replacement diet, I’ve heard “quantified diet” and “raw nutrition diet” which I think are more accurate.


#14

“raw nutrition” sounds too much like “raw food” to me, and implies something altogether not Soylent. I think there’s going to be a period of time where people have a huge knee jerk reaction against this sort of thing in large part because it’s “processed”. For all the talk of eating “unprocessed foods”, I see Soylent as the realization of my personal desire to go the total opposite direction, and consume 100% “processed” food (not believing that “processing” is inherently bad). But I suspect I’m in a rather extreme minority with that view.


#15

@vanclute Thanks Jonathan, I’ll PM you with more questions later if you don’t mind. RE: the processed vs. unprocessed foods, I think that’s a very important point you make.

I’ve been working on a definition of a “quantified diet” / “raw nutrition diet” for this exactly reason. So far what I’ve settled on is this:

a “quantified diet” or “raw nutrient diet” is a diet in which all ingredients in each meal individually map to the required nutrients prescribed by an evidence-based dietary standard (like the U.S. DRI). Ingredients in each meal are combined in such a way that the nutrient value of each ingredient is not affected by the meal’s preparation.


#16

I would definitely say I’m food-neutral.

I mean, there are certainly foods I like and derive pleasure out of eating… but at the same time I’d honestly not mind living off of one or two dishes pretty much forever. Actually, I’ve done that many times, sometimes for a period of a year or more. Once I figure out that I can live off of some basic combination of foods I just stop trying to innovate or be novel or anything.

Eating is a chore I’ve wanted to be able to get out of since I was a kid. The vast majority of the time I’d much rather just have something very simple and easy to top off the tanks and get on with my day. This is why Soylent is so exciting for me—it’s a chance to just no longer have to worry about sustenance.


#17

@noxylophone Thanks for sharing. How far back can you remember as a kid being indifferent to eating and not having a need for variety?

Also, I created a survey to collect some demographic data if you’re interested:

The results can be viewed by filling out the survey.


#18

I call my DIY a “diet shake”. If people want to read something other than the literal interpretation of those two words, due to societal conditioning, that’s up to them. It is my (permanent) diet. It is a shake.
I use this term because whatever angle you approach it, it has positive connotations.


#19

I think we can do better to explain exactly what makes the Soylent diet different than other diets.

Our diet seems to have the following qualities:

  • all ingredients (the Soylent) are meant to map to the required nutrients prescribed by dietary standard (like the U.S. DRI) in order to provide “complete nutrition.” This could be said of a regular meal, except that regular meals (almost?) never contain all the nutrients required by a dietary standard;

  • the nutrition value of the ingredients aren’t affected when combined (as in cooking, since we just mix Soylent with water);

This kind of approach to explaining our diet also minimizes the idea that Soylent isn’t a “meal.”


#20

Why not go with “Liquid Diet” or “Liquid Meal”? Personally I dislike the term “diet” being in there because of the implication that I’m doing it to “lose weight” or because of some fad trend etc. It also implies a temporary state, like I’m dieting right now and once I achieve a certain result will go “back to normal”. I really like the point made by @LillyBaeum in that Soylent in particular, unlike most “supplemental” liquid meal type things, is actually intended to be a total replacement for solid food, if the user wishes it to be. That’s what I’m most excited about.

Just like @noxylophone, I have always wished to be able to simply “top up the tanks” and get on with life. Personally I have lived on the same maybe dozen or so (tops) staple foods for at least 30 years. I tend to go for weeks at a time without so much as a single variation in my choice of foods, and Soylent lets me take this to the ultimate conclusion of literally consuming “fuel” as needed. That’s all food has ever been to me anyway - fuel. Sure there are certain things that are “tasty” or whatever, but I’d much prefer to consume those things only when I choose to, and the rest of the time just fuel up as needed.

I’m looking forward to being able to tell people “I don’t eat” and actually mean it. Sure they will get all confused and some will even get offended, but that’s their problem. If they ask me for more specifics, then they’ll get them. But as I’ve warned many people before… don’t ask the question if you aren’t sure you want to know the answer. At least now I can simply point them to Soylent and let them look it up themselves if they want to.