How ‘Normal People’ Eat: the legendary Nash

For years I’ve heard my friend Skip allude to this mythical being named Nash, a lanky guy who possessed an almost supernatural immunity to culinary temptations.

An actual, undoctored photo of a Nash sighting

“He just isn’t moved by food in the way I am,” Skip lamented recently. “I think he’s the zen guy who just eats when he’s hungry.”

Naturally, I felt compelled to track down this Nash. Not only does he actually exist — he works in public affairs at State Farm’s corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Ill., — he was good-natured enough to discuss his most intimate thoughts on food with a total stranger.

I also discovered something else Skip never told me — Nash has a first name. It’s Mike.

Q. Is it true what Skip says — that you don’t give much thought to
food, that you’re somebody who sees it purely as fuel?

A. I tend not to plan my days around food or meals. When I have a lot
going on, I’ll thoughtlessly skip a meal or end up eating at an odd
time of day. Eating is part of my day, but not always top of mind.
When I’m spending time with friends I’m the last one to chime in that
I’m hungry, and I’m the annoying one who will not suggest a restaurant
no matter what.

All of that said, I love a good meal! And I love a
good meal even more with a group of family or friends.

Q. Would you describe your eating as more on the healthy or junk food
end of the scale?

A. I’d describe it as slightly on the healthy side. My meals aren’t
always perfectly balanced with proteins, vegetables, and fruit, but I
try to have a variety.

Q. Do you eat breakfast? If so, what?

A. I eat breakfast every day that I don’t go to work and about a quarter
of the time on work days. I love breakfast food. I’m pretty sure I’d
be better off if I’d eat something before work, but sleep often wins
the morning battle on workdays.

Q. What is your biggest weakness, food wise? How do you deal with it?

A. I have a definite weakness when it comes to easily available snack
food, especially office pitch-in food and snack food at home. I can’t
stop myself. Fighting off the office food days is hard, especially
when there are brownies (with no nuts and no frosting, please)! I
solve the home snacking problem by limiting what I buy at the grocery.
If I don’t have it in my house, I won’t eat it. If I do have it in my
house, I tend to make an entire meal out of, say, a whole bag of
chips.

Q. What’s your favorite order at your favorite restaurant?

A. I love a big bowl of pasta with meat, sauce, and plenty of garlic.
Mmm, mmm! I have a weakness for burritos at Chipotle, and I have a
hard time passing up sushi rolls, too.

Q. Do you ever “pig out?” If so, do you worry about it or take any
particular steps to atone for it, or just move on?

A. I pig out from time to time, but I’m not self-loathing about it. I
divide meals into routine meals and special occasion meals. For run of
the mill, everyday meals, I do my best to eat a sensible portion. If
I’m at a family gathering, a holiday meal, or visiting a
splurge-worthy restaurant, my fork and knife work happily in
overdrive. I figure I’m saving up for a rainy day, so to speak, when
it comes to routine meals and spending that savings on special
occasion meals.

Q. Have you ever been concerned about your weight? If you feel your

jeans getting a bit snug or see an ominous number on the scale, what

steps do you take? (If this has never ever happened to you, I reserve
the right to hate you even though we’ve never met.)

A. I wouldn’t say that I’m concerned about my weight as much as about my
shape. I’m tall and thin. When I eat too much without some exercise
time, I start to look like a popsicle stick with a life preserver
around the middle. My gauge isn’t a number on a scale; it’s my jeans.

Q. A lot of people I’ve interviewed have told me they really, really
hate feeling “stuffed” or overly full. Does that pertain to you?

A. I really, really hate feeling stuffed.

Q. Do you do anything in particular to get exercise?

A. I’m an avid runner and occasional bicyclist. I typically run 25 – 30 miles a week. I’m currently coming off of a nagging foot injury and am at about 10-15 miles a week so far this spring. I commute to work by bicycle (weather and daylight permitting,
of course), adding about 10 bike miles a week.

If weather and other commitments were not a factor, I’d love to be able to go for a run every day. I feel better and I crave better food when I’m running
regularly. It’s also mind-clearing. It’s my get-away-from-it-all time.

Q. Anything you’d care to add, on this or any other topic?

A. I wish I was better at planning and preparing meals. If I was rich,
I’d hire someone to do that for me before I would hire someone to
clean my house or take care of my yard. I need Alice from The Brady
Bunch.

Just think, Nash -- if you were being interviewed on "Oprah" instead of this blog, you might have won the services of an Alice for your trouble. Instead, all you get is a hearty thanks. Thanks!

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