Much has been written and said about President Trump's diet.
Considering reports that his "major food groups" are McDonald's, KFC, pizza, and Diet Coke, as well as one that says he tries to avoid non-chain restaurants out of fear of being poisoned, it's fair to say Trump has some specific tastes.
It's also fair to say that it's not very healthy. According to Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager who wrote the book, Let Trump Be Trump, the president would usually go 14 to 16 hours without eating, then have a full McDonald's dinner of two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and a small chocolate shake — a total of 2,430 calories.
He also says he doesn't often eat breakfast and avoids it if he can. Lewandowski says Trump doesn't eat the bread of his sandwiches, and other reports say he avoids eating pizza crust. He orders his steaks — his favorite food — well done, with a side of ketchup.
If this reminds you of the eating habits of anyone you know, they're probably not old enough to drive.
For beverages, Trump does not drink tea, coffee, alcohol, or anything stimulating. He has only one true love: Diet Coke. He reportedly drinks 12 a day.
Taking all that into account, I had one thought: "That all sounds awful. I've got to try it."
So began my ambitious, foolhardy, and treacherous journey into the mind of Trump — through his stomach — by eating as he eats. For a week, I stuck to foods that Trump has been photographed eating, has said in interviews that he eats, or has been reported to eat regularly.
I can't say I learned a lot about Trump, but I definitely learned something about myself.
Day 1. Here we go. This is it. I feel excited as I swing by McDonald's to pick up a pair of Egg McMuffins on my way into work.
Trump says he doesn't usually eat breakfast — but if he does, he'll have these. All-day McDonald's breakfast has been cited as one of the reasons the fast-food chain's business has turned around in recent years, so I'm excited to give them a go for the first time.
Immediate regret. The Egg McMuffin is not greater than the sum of its parts. Not a fan. I eat both anyway, seeing as it was the morning after Business Insider's holiday party and I needed something in my stomach.
A coworker also brought in a Shake Shack breakfast sandwich for me. Trump doesn't have an established history of liking Shake Shack, but it is a chain, and it was hand-delivered — just like how Trump usually gets his food.
It puts its McDonald's counterpart to shame.
A staple of Trump's diet is Diet Coke, but I'm nervous about that part. I hate diet soda, and I'm not excited about the prospect of having to drink as much as I can in a single day. I start off with a seltzer to ease into it.
For lunch, I score some free pizza from a meeting I wasn't invited to. Though it's not from a chain, as Trump would probably prefer, it's one of his major food groups. By this point, I am starting to realize what it means to eat like Trump: lots of calories and salt.
For dinner, I order McDonald's delivery through UberEats. Twice in one day feels like a crime against sense, but I push through.
I get two Big Macs and a small chocolate shake, as well as a small fry. This feels like too much food, though it's two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches short of a full Trump dinner. Then again, Trump says he barely eats during the day, so that might explain it. I try not to think of what I'm doing to my body as I pound it down. I go to bed feeling slightly uneasy and very full.
Day 2. The next morning, I frantically search for information for something other than Egg McMuffins to subsist on. Trump says he eats corn cereals. Bingo. To be fair, Trump says he eats only corn grown in the U.S., but my Peanut Butter Captain Crunch does not specify. It feels healthy compared with what I ate the day before, and my body feels renewed.
At Target, I decide to pick up one of Trump's (and my) favorite snacks: Oreos. I polish off a row in lieu of lunch before I realize how many I've eaten. Oops.
I'm at a loss for what to do for dinner, so I decide on Domino's. That fulfills two Trumpian requirements: pizza and a chain restaurant. I also bite the bullet and get a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke. I drink about a quarter of it and hate every second. At this point, my stomach asks me why I've decided to punish it so.
Day 3. I had plans early the next morning, so before running out the door, I eat the only quick and easy thing available to me for breakfast: cold Domino's. I persuade my friends to stop for an ice cream during the day, though — I get two scoops of course.
The ice cream is good, but it still feels as if I haven't eaten anything real or healthy in days.
Later, I meet up with a friend at a fancy movie theater with a bar in it. Trump doesn't drink, so I order a Diet Coke. I find it strangely refreshing, and it tastes so much better than the bottled stuff I've been drinking.
I order another during the movie, along with queso and chips. There's no record of Trump eating queso, but I figure the famous Trump Tower taco bowl isn't too far off. When the check comes, the mystery of the theater's great-tasting Diet Coke is solved — it's actually a soda from a much fancier brand.
Day 4. It's Monday, and I'm back on the Egg McMuffin grind. I'm really beginning to loathe these things.
I'm feeling super sluggish — much more so than on a usual Monday. I wonder whether it's my horrible diet. Trump doesn't drink tea or coffee, so I crack open a Diet Coke at 11 a.m. I hate what I've become, but I finish the can anyway. I find it hard to drink one, let alone 12.
A coworker brings in doughnut holes, and I eat a few despite how I feel. I skip lunch.
For dinner, it's back to McDonald's for a Filet-O-Fish meal. The sight of the greasy food makes my stomach turn, but I've already committed.
Day 5. Work-from-home day. I ordered some eggs — over hard, the way Trump likes them — and extra-crispy bacon. The eggs were over easy and the bacon just normal. It was all thoroughly fine. It felt nice to have something in my stomach that was minimally processed. The rest of the workday I nibble on (still) leftover pizza and Oreos.
For dinner, I decide to get Trump's favorite food: steak. I found a place in Brooklyn that sells a reasonable New York strip (his favorite cut) and ordered it well done with ketchup. When the plate was set in front of me, it became clear why he takes it with ketchup — it's the only way to get any flavor out of a dried-out, burnt-to-a-crisp hunk of well-done meat. It's not bad, per se, but it's not great either. I feel the need to apologize to the waiter.
Day 6. I try to stick to Trump's eating schedule — that is, ignore food all day and gorge at dinner. With the steak from last night still making its presence known in my stomach, I didn't get hungry until lunchtime. I tried to see whether a Diet Coke would suppress my hunger, but it didn't really work. At the onset of this experiment, I thought I would grow to either love or despise Diet Coke; it turns out it's the latter.
A surprise TV appearance has me scrambling for food, so I decide to get a few Big Macs from the McDonald's around the corner just before 5 p.m. It's easy to understand why Trump structures his meals this way, as it is, in theory, more productive. But it requires the sacrifice of the midday eating demands, and my hunger distracted me from being productive all day.
It turns out two Big Macs and a Diet Coke is not enough food for one day, and I was hungry later. I finally finish off the Domino's, thoroughly ashamed of who I am.
Day 7. Honestly, I don't know how much more I can take of the punishment. The thought of bacon, eggs, or any kind of breakfast sandwich in the morning makes me gag, so I grab an oatmeal bar from the office kitchen instead. It tastes like release.
I splash out for lunch — a fast-casual burger instead of a fast-food one. I order it well done, and the receipt makes clear there is "nooooooooo pink." I'm embarrassed.
The food comes, and it's a welcome respite from the fast food I've been eating all week. It's fresh and beefy, and the change of pace is so nice.
I also ordered a chocolate shake to make it feel more Trumpian.
Day 8. The last day. I go rogue and start off with a yogurt. Anything else feels like too much. I skip lunch.
For my last dinner, I'm finally indulging in the fourth Trump food group: KFC. This chain's menu is large and confusing. I got a two-piece chicken meal — which is not what I thought I ordered, but it's fine. It was greasy and rich, and far too much for me to stomach after the lunch and the week I had. I was so glad to be done.