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Confessions of a Youth Diet Fast, Cheap, and Erratic

Silicon Valley De-Bug, Commentary, Various Authors Posted: Oct 15, 2009

Editor's Note: The following is five young adults chronicling what they ate and drank for two days, from the time they got up to the time they went to sleep. All five have different backgrounds, jobs, living situations, and consequently -- dietary habits. There is the guy who works at the mall and eats snack bar type food while on break, the college student who's living fat off of her girlfriend and birthday parties, the homeless youth who has to hustle to get his meals when he can, the skater who catches meals with friends on the go, and the young woman who lives with her family, but eats by herself.

They say you are what you eat. Who knows what that means for a generation that live off of Hot Cheetos and Shrimp flavored Cup of Noodles. But after reading the food journals of our writers, it seems what you eat is more about what your lifestyle allows for. And for all the talk in American lore of the family dinner table there were only rare instances of actual family meals to be found in these consumption chronicles. For better or worse, here is the assessment we came up with in terms of youth diets -- they eat fast, alone, and with no discernible pattern. Make of that what you will.

Break Time Meals and Mall Menus
By Jose Manuel "The Homeboy Mad" Valle

I am a single male living in San Jose with a family (separate from my own) made up of husband, wife and three children. When at home, there is usually food prepared for the whole family. My main source of income is provided by my job at a shopping mall, where I work at the movie theater. After work, I usually spend my time at my second job as a writer. My eating habits are often based on what I can manage in my irregular work schedule.

After observing my eating habits, I found myself in a slight state of shock. I eat very unhealthy and most of all irregularly. When I'm out and about I find myself too busy to pay any mind to eating more than one meal a day. And when I spend more time at home I eat plenty. I have always been aware of my coffee drinking habit but the unhealthy food I eat on a daily basis never occurred to me.

Hot dogs, microwavable noodles and Hot Cheetos Fries isn't exactly part of a balanced healthy diet. Being that I am a single male always on the go and don't know how to cook, I find myself eating food based on convenience. I most probably make up for what I don't eat the day prior by eating too much the following day.

Monday September 21, 2009
What: Breakfast -- 1 cup of coffee, 2 tablespoons of sugar and milk
When: 10:30am (right before work)
Where: Home
How Much: Free
What: Lunch -- Microwaveable noodle soup, small bag of chicharones, small cup of cherry coke with ice
When: 2:30pm
Where: At the Mall, by myself
How Much: $3.50
What: Snack Hot Cheetos
When: 5:30pm
Where: At the mall, by myself
How Much: $1.00
Tuesday September 22, 2009
What: Breakfast -- 1 cup of coffee, 2 tablespoons of sugar and milk, 2 French toasts with syrup, 3 small bite sized brownies
When: 11:00am
Where: At home, with family
How Much: Not sure, came out of grocery budget

What: Lunch -- Ham sandwich consisting of subway style sour dough bread, ham, 3 slices of cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, small bag of Sun Chips Bottle of Gatorade
When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: At Mall by myself
How Much: Brought from home
What: Snack Hot Dog
When: 6:00pm
Where: At Mall, by myself
How Much: $1.00
What: Dinner -- 2 servings of Carne Asada, 2 servings of beans with cotija cheese, Hot link, 6 corn tortillas, 2 cups of Strawberry Quick
When: 9:00 p.m.
Where: At home, with family
How Much: Not sure, came out of grocery budget
What: CooldownFour cups of water with ice
When: 10:00pm
Where: Home with family
How much: Free 10:00pm At home

"Free Ninety Nine" is the Best Meals
By Jean Melesaine

I'm a foodie and I have food A.D.D, so I need hella options when I eat, but sometimes I'm loyal to certain foods...like cereal. Since I'm staying in Berkeley currently, on the weekends I end up going to birthdays, events or just out. So I usually eat out.

Day 1 Saturday
Saturday Morning: Yelped for a good breakfast spot in Berkeley. Went out with the gf to 900 Grayson, probably the best breakfast I had in my life, including service. Yelp gives them 4 stars. So I order breakfast which is scrambled eggs, apple sausage, hash browns, and toast. I only ate half and ate half of her food. She ordered the Demon Lover, which is the chicken and waffles. It comes with freshly made maple syrup and strawberry, pear, and ginger jam with ketchup and Tapatio hot sauce. Coffee is too much in my life, I may have to go to rehab for that. I drank two and a half cups of coffee with cream and Splenda. The breakfast was about 30 dollars. I am not the breadwinner.

Afternoon: We had to go to Novato for a bday party and to meet up with my gf's mom in Novato for lunch at a spot called Latina Grill. When we got to Latina grill, still full from breakfast we ordered one meal and shared. Tacos, beans, salad, and grilled chicken. Also ordered a beer and tortilla chips on the side. Since we were there to have lunch with her mom, her mother's partner paid for our meal, so the meal was free ninety nine. We had to return to a friend's daughters bday and had some beer. Maybe about 7 Heineken and Stella. I have a high tolerance.

Night: We had to drive to the city for a Luau in the city. The Luau was thrown by Utopia a LGBTQ Pacific Islander group. I haven't ate Polynesian food for awhile and I don't touch pork that much. In our culture the pig is sacred. I rarely finish my food especially during Polynesian events. So on the plate there was pork and "oka" which is a cold stew mixed with coconut milk, raw tuna, lemons, cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables. Also on the plate was "palusami" which is like a spinach dish wrapped in a ball of leaves and inside there's coconut milk, onions, and lamb steaming. Another thing on the plate was curry chicken. The rest of the plate were just side carbs, Naan bread, rice, and "filifu fai" which is steamed plantains in a coconut milk sauce. That meal was free ninetynine. Because the Luau was in the heart of Castro, the gf and I decided to leave after watching friends perform to grab some drinks at a nearby restaurant. There I had 2 Haywire beers. Dinner=9.00 (both beers).

Day 2 Sunday
Morning: Woke up early maybe around 6. Went to a well known French breakfast spot on Shattuck Street. Ordered coffee and a sweet croissant while waiting for our food. My gf and I split our meals in half with each other so there's more options. She ordered the French toast and I ordered the Cote Ouest which is scrambled eggs with ratatouille and homefries along with toast. Breakfast=23.00. Again, I am not the bread winner.

Lunch: For lunch we picked up some Thai food from Thai temple. It's pretty cheap, around 6 dollars a meal. I ordered a three item combo -- pad Thai, yellow chicken curry, and rice. She ordered the Thai beef soup. For extras just for a later snack we ordered the mango sticky rice. Lunch=17.00
Dinner: We didn't finish lunch and were too full and busy to eat dinner. I skipped dinner.

My Meals Depend on my Daily Hustle

By Alex Gutierrez

My name is Alexander Gutierrez, 22-years-old. My current living situation is a homeless citizen in the city of San Jose. Given my current living circumstances I am constantly at a lack of funds to provide three square meals a day, but the situation at hand has helped me to figure out how to stretch whatever money I got for that a day if my hustle is right. On a good day, I may have $20, and will spend $13.06 on a Spicy Buffalo Chicken melt with a glass of Coke with free refills. That is enough to leave me full for the whole day, after that I am left with $6.54. That is enough to buy me a big gulp at 7-11 at the price of $1.54 and after I got exactly $5.00 left for a Day Pass for the bus to get around for the next day. Here though is two days of my eating habit.

September 22, 2009
Woke up at 8:40pm on the Bus 22, where I was sleeping. Got off on downtown stop.
$5 borrowed from my friend downtown
I was short 50 cents for a three item combination but managed to haggle a two item combination with an eggroll thrown in on the side. I had Chow mien and Broccoli Beef.
Location of consumption:
I ate, standing in front of the bus stop at the corner of First Street and Santa Clara.
September 23, 2009
Today I woke up, again on the Bus 22, somewhere in the city of Santa Clara.
No funds for the day but compliments to Bill Wilson Center I ate.
pasta for lunch along with two Nutrigrain Bars and a Cup of Noodle. That was breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

McDonald's, Taco Bell and KFC a Skater's Diet

By Jim Osiakowski
I am 19-years-old and I was born and raised is San Jose CA. I am not going to school but I am currently working for Atlas Painting. My meals from morning to night are pretty basic although they're not always the healthiest, I can still maintain a good diet.

Day 1

I woke up at about noon and got dressed and called my buddy Nick to skate. He came and picked me up and we headed for the nearest Mcdonald's. I ordered an Angus burger with no onions, a large fries, and a large Coke. It cost about $6.00 for the meal. We then went and skated a park in Sunnyvale, when we finished I saw the ice cream man at about 3:00 hanging around the park so I got a Lifesaver's popsickle for $1.75. We then left and called it a day. When I got home it was around 6:00pm and there was KFC on the counter and in the bag was an 18 piece honey BBQ wing which costs about $8.00. I figure my mom bought it for me. I then got some grape soda from the fridge. Later that night around 9:00pm I had some homemade Spaghetti and then went to bed an hour later.

Day 2

I woke up at around 10:30 am and made a bowl of Kix cereal with a glass of orange juice. I relaxed for an hour and a half more then made a Bagel with Cream Cheese and had some grape soda. About two hours later I went to a nearby 711 and met up with my friend Andrew. There I bought a can of Arizona's Southern Style Sweet Tea for $1.09 and a bag of Dorito's chips for 99 cents. Later that day at about 8:00pm me, Andrew and his sister Kelly headed for Taco Bell. I ordered a Mexican Pizza and a large Mountain Dew for about $5.00. When we got back to the house Andrew's mom had made Brownies so I had about four of those to top it off. Later, when I got home, I had couple more glasses of grape soda. Hours passed and I headed for bed.

I Eat Alone But Satisfied
Thuy Ngo

I am a twenty five-year-old Vietnamese woman who lives in San Jose. I live with my mom and am trying to save up to get back into San Jose State University. I was an art major, so I was always running around in the middle of the night and and early in the mornings to make up for my meals. That habit stuck with me.

On October 06, 2009 at 9:10 am I left the house having drank a glass of grapefruit juice. It did not cost me anything because I got it from home. The juice was my meal for the morning because I was on the run. It served it's purpose. I drank it alone.

At 10:34am I arrived at a Carl's Jr. restaurant, and bought a chicken burger and a raspberry ice tea for $3.60. The burger was juicy and hot and was washed down nicely. I ate alone.
At 2:25pm I ate with some of my friends at a Togo's. This time I was not alone. I had a half cobb salad and a cranberry juice for $4.95 with a $0.99 Cheetos bag. I had a great time. I really missed eating with my friends. I had not seen them for a really long time.

At 8:09 pm, I bought a pumpkin pie for $8.99. I ate a slice with some whipped cream. The pie fulfilled all my girlhood dreams and longings that I have had for the last six months. It was a special night.
On October 07, 2009 at 12:23 pm I ate two more pieces of pumpkin pie at home. I was once again in bliss. I ate it alone and I did not have to pay because I bought it from the night before.

At 5:06pm I had a six inch subway sandwich that my brother bought for me along with a bowl of vegetable and meat soup with rice that my mom made. I ate it alone again, but this time not so much in conscious bliss like before, but the meal was satisfying enough. The meal was free. That was my dinner at home, my last meal that day.

I felt a little sad after realizing that most of my meals are alone. I was satisfied because I was fed. I realize how lucky it is when a meal is free and/or pre-made. A pre-made meal served is luxury.

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