Ask Reece

Dear Reece,

I noticed in your last column, you mentioned that exercise doesn’t affect weight. Really?

Sincerely,
Freely Admiring my Tubbyness

Dear FAT,

I could just say “yup” (Carneiro 2016)! But instead I’ll say that the more studies I read, the more I think we don’t know very much about weight gain, nutrition, exercise, and the multitude of elements that affect how we process and use food. We can’t even reliably calculate the calories in basic foods like walnuts (Baer 2016), and the current popular view of sugar as addictive hasn’t stood up to human testing (Marcus 2017). Personally, I think there are too many factors — psychological, social, biological, and so on for us to really know how this works for each individual. It feels easy to frame one thing or another as the sole cause for something we deem detrimental, and that may be because it sells things — whether magazines or specialty food products. It’s rarely the whole story, though.

I also wanted to say it’s been great getting so much feedback from that last article, both in person at Karma, and over email, so keep it up! Ask questions, and send feedback to the email address below. Bonus points if you can come up with a clever acronym for your name.

Kind regards,
Reece


Dear Reece,

My kind roommate makes his lunches up for the week ahead of time, and recently has been packing up one or two extra for me as well. While I appreciate this, I don’t like the excessive use of plastic wrap and disposable packaging. I would have thought he’d know this since we’ve been friends for a while, and I have always been very environmentally conscious. How do I politely ask him to put my lunches (and ideally his) in a reusable container?

Sincerely,
Yes to the Tortilla Wrap, No to the Plastic Wrap

Dear YTWNPW,

Sounds like a great roommate! I would be very careful about how you make this type of request; a couple lunches a week is a significant gift, and it’s tricky to put terms on gifts. I am old-fashioned in that I think a gift is meant to be accepted as given, if given in good faith.

However, you could use it as an opportunity to do something in return for him and you, and that may solve the issue. There are options for packaging lunches, like reusable wrap and bento boxes, that are on the nicer side — a little pricier but more attractive and more pleasant to use than, for example, a plastic container. If you think your roommate might be open to it, you could purchase a set for each of you. If he still prefers disposable, then you may have to decide if you would rather put up with the excess packaging or forego the free lunch.

Kind regards,
Reece


Ask Reece is the e-Chronicle’s advice column by Karma working member Reece Steinberg, a health sciences librarian and food enthusiast. Reece provides advice with input from a variety of sources including anything from traditional etiquette columns to peer-reviewed scientific articles. He answers Karma member questions about dietary lifestyles, food science and fermentation, eating etiquette, and anything else food-related. Please email your questions to askreece@karmacoop.org.