Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The "Free Sample" Diet: Interview with Alen Kalati

Hi everyone! So today I'm starting Camp NaNoWriMo to attempt, ONCE AGAIN, to finish my second draft of The Wishmaker. To procrastinate that, I decided to get my blog post up surprisingly early. Today I'm posting an interview with my dad, Alen Kalati, who started an intriguing new diet about a month ago. It started when we wondered whether it's possible to survive off free samples. From there, we came up with the rules for a lifestyle challenge:

(What this essentially reads: Can have: Free samples/ complimentary food; food from the garden; food offered by people outside the family; leftover food that family members are not planning to eat anymore; water and non-caloric beverages, and vitamins. Requirements: No money of your own or your immediate family's can be spent on the food; must be legal; it is not allowed to visit friends or family for the sole purpose of taking food.)

My dad was all "Challenge accepted!" because he loves free food, and decided to try it for a month. Well, it's been nearly a month and for the most part he's kept his diet. So I asked him a few questions about what it's been like...

Can you explain the rules of your diet?

Basically I am not allowed to eat food I paid for. But see the rules for more details.

Where are the main places you get food during this diet?

I thought I would need to go out and look for samples on a daily basis, but I think the main sources for food was food that the rest of the family would not eat and would otherwise be discarded. I think if I would have began this diet a month later, the garden would be the main source. I also had food when I went to events like a wedding, and local events like garden club meetings etc. I did NOT go to events just for finding food. People thought I would crash events to have food… but I don't.

 A wild mushroom provided one of my dad's meals this month.

How has the diet been working in terms of losing weight/being healthier?

I lost an amazing 6 pounds the first 3 days. Then I gained some back because of the wedding. Right now, I am at 10 pounds lost. Initially I think the diet was not very healthy because I had a hard time finding proteins. But then I adjusted to that by saving proteins for later so I have some protein on a daily basis.

What about financial benefits- has this diet helped you save money?

I’m sure it saved us some money but this wasn’t the main purpose of the diet so I’m not sure how much.
 Free samples at Costco always help.

What are some things you've learned about yourself or your nutrition through this diet?

The biggest thing I learned is how the fridge is the problem in me losing weight.  Not being able to open the fridge ('cause there is nothing I could have) opened my mind to how terrible it was before. I would open the fridge not because I was hungry but because of being bored, or just as an instinct. I think my brain had been trained to open the fridge door every time I pass by it. Also, sitting in front of the TV without constantly eating was a problem.
I should have supplemented the diet with vitamins though – which I did not. 

Would you recommend this diet to others?

Depends... it's not for most people.

 Fruit compote my dad made by combining edible food scraps with garden produce.

You're planning to stop the diet after July 3, but are you planning to continue with any of the habits you obtained through it?

I’m not planning to stop the diet. Just make some changes into it. I want to have a healthy meal once a day, and I want to be able to do stuff with my family [like go to restaurants, etc].

What do you think this diet says about food waste in America?

Huge amounts of waste in America. Especially in events like weddings etc. Usually it's easier and legally safer to just throw away the food instead of thinking who can enjoy it.  

A Garden Club meeting spread was a delicious dinner one night.

So, I know that was a bit of a change from my usual posts, but I thought this diet was pretty interesting. In my opinion, it's not a good idea for every day, but the experience taught my family how much food we- and a lot of restaurants and catering companies- waste, and how we can use that food instead of throwing it away.

I hope you enjoyed the interview! If you have any thoughts on this diet, feel free to share in the comments.
Thanks for reading,


  1. I officially name this diet "The hunter/Gatherer/freeloader" diet.

  2. I admit I was skeptical to begin with and I still say it's not a good way to live and it's not really 'free' (since someone IS paying for it) but I was shocked to find out just how much food we throw out. I thought I was really good at using every part of the food we buy and inventing new uses for stuff we over bought or was about to go bad, but it turns out there were loads of food items that got lost in the back of fridge, freezer and cupboards and would have eventually go to the garbage. It was a good learning experience.