I Ate Pizza Every Day for a Week—Here’s What Happened
Our senior editor took on an assignment she believed would be a dream. Here's what she discovered when eating pizza every day became an obligation.
Like so much else that’s transpired this summer, my challenge to eat pizza every day for a week all started with the Eras Tour. In December, my best friend had texted to tell me her 13-year-old had been “boosted” for the chance to score two tickets to the MetLife Stadium show in New Jersey. Her husband would accompany her daughter, so we two agreed to meet in New York City over Memorial Day weekend for some girl time.
Four months later in April, my best friend’s dad passed away somewhat unexpectedly, exactly a week before my grandmother passed away, with both funerals in our hometown. Just as we’ve been since we met in kindergarten, we were present for one another during their funerals and checked on each other frequently. But by the time Memorial Day weekend arrived, our plans for a night out in the city had downshifted to dinner at their New Jersey hotel restaurant, located next to the concert stadium, so we could talk and reflect about all that had happened in the past few weeks. I think each of us was relieved that the other was perfectly content to forgo our night out in favor of a quieter scene.
Seated at the bar, we agreed to split a quesadilla and a cauliflower crust pizza, both of which came served on dinner-sized plates. Ages ago, I spent a year living in Italy and was impressed at how authentic the hotel’s Margherita-style pizza was. We each had two slices before we packaged our leftovers so that her husband and daughter could have a late-night snack in the likely event singing along with all the Swifties had caused them to work up an appetite.
I took a car 20 minutes from their hotel to Manhattan, where I’d be spending a couple nights to catch our interview with A-Rod…and despite the fact that my bestie and I had eaten just a couple hours before, I felt hungry—like, really hungry.
Maybe it was jet lag. I’d woken up at 4 a.m. California time to fly into New York that afternoon after a week on the West Coast with my fiancé, and for my flight I’d sliced strawberries and bell peppers and packaged two Costco dips (which successfully made it through security), all of which my partner had stocked in the fridge for my visit. (Total keeper.) But my best friend’s parents always said when we were kids: I’m a good eater. We’d nibbled on hotel bar food, but I realized I hadn’t felt entirely full all day.
At 11 p.m. I Door Dashed a pizza to my hotel, and the pizza box came so big that I had to be careful not to drop it. Back in my room, I opened the lid: I used to live in New York and wanted to go all-out in my nostalgia with extra pepperoni. As melted cheese stretched away from the adjacent piece as I pulled out the first slice, I wondered: what is it about the point of a pizza slice that seemingly just begs to be eaten? I ate a second slice, finagled some packaging to put the rest of the pizza in my hotel fridge, and went to bed.
That pizza would last me two more days—and I hate to waste food, so I finished it. Here’s what I learned when I ate pizza (almost) every day for a week.
Eating pizza every day threw my digestion out of whack
I’ll spare the details, but let’s just say my stomach was not happy that first night. Between fruit and veggies on the plane, some light bites and a couple beers with my bestie, and a late night pizza splurge, it was just not an overly comfortable situation. The next morning, I was sure to hydrate thoroughly before I stepped out for the day.
“You know you’re old when…” laughed board-certified holistic nutritionist Katie Bressack, INHC, AADP (who also happens to be a trusted colleague of 20 years and can freely have a giggle at my expense). “Dairy can be hard to digest,” Bressack explained. “It can definitely cause that laxative [effect], plus the gluten in the pizza could have also irritated your stomach. Some cauliflower pizza is not gluten-free, so you might want to look at that,” she said.
Two other potential issues? “Eating late night can be harsher on your stomach than eating at least three hours before you go to bed,” she reminded me. “Plus, as you know, flying can cause your belly to feel more bloated because of the air pressure.” In fact I didn’t know this, but apparently it’s real: Bressack said that when she flies cross-country or farther, her first meal after she lands has been shown to cause the same consequence.
Eating pizza every day seemed to contribute to a major breakout
After the holidays when I ventured to eat cheese every day, I reported that consuming even a little too much dairy has always given me acne…particularly on my chin.
Gotta say: Eating pizza did the same, but worse. The worst ever, in fact. The very next morning after I’d eaten those first couple slices, I woke up to find two big blemishes developing—we’re talking the painful, cystic kind for which it seems there is utterly no solution. Years ago when this happened, my good friend Dr. Lisa Pfingstler, MD, a dermatologist in my hometown of DuBois, PA, directly injected a steroid into a pimple before an event I needed to attend. I was amazed when my skin was clear the next day. I’m certain this pizza-induced breakout needed that same level of response. Eesh, I was on my way to spend time with A-Rod. If I’d been home, I might have gone to see Lisa.
She once mentioned to me that some research has shown a link between dairy consumption and acne. Between the dairy, the greasy pepperoni, my travels and jet lag, that lovely largest organ of my body—my skin—seemed to show evidence that I’d overdone things in general. My immune system confirmed this when after one more work trip the following week, I came down with a miserable throat infection and respiratory virus that hung on for 10 days. I’m not able to race at the work pace I did when I was in my twenties…and that is OK. The effort was valiant.
Eating pizza every day made my diet feel out of balance
I spent Memorial Day—and I mean all of Memorial Day—walking around Manhattan and enjoying the sunny weather in the low 70s. Walking has been my preferred leisure activity ever since the decade I lived in New York (really, since the days my best friend and I were kids and loved walks in our neighborhood together). These days I typically walk a minimum of 40 minutes on a day “off,” up to two hours in the warm months. Walking and enjoying the outdoors is the most powerful way that helps me decompress.
However, I needed to pause for some self-examination and ask myself whether I was walking because I felt compelled to “burn off” the pizza. New York City-based psychotherapist Francesca Maxime, LMSW, offered a way to help think this through, explaining that there’s a rational part of us that might be able to gauge with decent accuracy how much walking might be beneficial to balance an innocent over-consumption, in contrast to a shameful or guilty part of the psyche that just feels like beating oneself up.
The bottom line: Was the walking pleasure, or punishment? It really was a pleasure, but since it was one of my first days of the year inside flip-flops, my feet might have called it the latter.
My fasting attempt also slightly backfired, but I was gentle on myself because I understood why it had happened. After walking about seven miles around the city, I didn’t feel full for long from the late-afternoon spinach, cucumber, ginger and mango smoothie and two chicken kabobs I bought from two street vendors. (Those kabobs used to be a regular dinner for me and I’d forgotten how good they are!)
By around eight o’clock that night, I was hungry—and, there was still some pizza in the fridge. I ate a slice, but it was all a reminder how giving too far into temptation with that initial pizza delivery can create a days-long domino effect that can feel tough to quell.
The next day during work hours, I was back on track with my regular healthy eating with a salad at lunchtime. Then back at home a couple days later, I baked one of the cauliflower crust pizzas I like to keep in the freezer—an organic product that I was impressed to read was a product of Italy. However, I found it was entirely underwhelming.
It turns out even the most alluring assignment has its downsides. I never made it seven whole days of eating pizza and it took two weeks before I had a taste for it again. The next time I ordered pizza from my favorite hometown pizzeria, the scratch-made dough and clean ingredients at Buck’s—along with some moderation from me—made for happier eating.
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