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>Readathon: Snack Coach

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> I don’t know about you, but I can’t go into a Readathon lightly. I have to think about what to read and what to wear and sometimes, I even get a haircut for the occasion. Somehow it seems that when I’m freshly shorn, the words sink into my brain so much easier because my scalp feels so light and cool.

I also try to think about what to eat. During the Readathon last October, I neglected this important aspect of the game and suffered the consequences as a result. I was low-energy, often cranky and fell asleep early on, losing consciousness for four hours. In Hour 19, I had a similar episode that lasted about 20 minutes.

Fortunately, I posted my snacks each hour and Sandra, my wonderful BOOKLEAVES friend analyzed my food lists and pronounced them “sub-par convenience store pap.” She suggested that next time I treat myself to “something more gastronomically stimulating.” I didn’t have to think twice. I asked her to be my snack coach and she kindly agreed. Here’s her advice:

Sandra: OK, light on the carbs, heavy on the proteins, especially when you’re already feeling sleepy. Fruits are carbs, but they’re also refreshing and make you feel rejuvenated, so fruits are OK in moderation, mostly to cleanse your palate and make you feel good.

Apples with peanut butter (your idea) is good. The protein will counteract the nap-inducing carbs. Another good fruit to eat is Asian pear because you need something sort of exotic to rub it in the faces of all your readers who aren’t expats. Asian pear is so beautiful and juicy and palate-cleansing and refreshing.

For luxury with a shot of protein, I would really recommend some cheese or at least that brie-in-a-can. I know it’s crap but it’s all we’ve got here. Or instead of that, but in the same price range, some E-Mart sushi. Either the sushi or the cheese would be a big splurge–either one would be close to 10,000 won. You need some pampering.

For more protein, I’m thinking tuna. Do you like it? Some hate it, I like it. Koreans have interesting canned tuna–have you ever tried the kind in hot sauce? There’s one in barbecue sauce too. You can eat it plain or you can mix it in with some cooked rice, so simple to prepare you won’t even lose your place on the page.

Do not neglect the important food group called chocolate. I know I said no carbs, but I was exaggerating. A little chocolate might be just what you need at 3 in the morning. Go with a Crunky Bar or Atlas (Korean Snickers doppelganger). Speaking of Snickers, if you can get a little packet of nuts, that’s another good protein-laden snack. Sunflower seeds are good too, but can be hard to eat while reading.

Drink plenty of water, just like the running marathoners. Have on hand some juice. I would not overdo it with the coffee but I think you’re going to want some. If you’re going to do outings, going to a coffee shop might be a nice pick-you-up or go to a nearby smoothie place or something. I think going out to eat something or drink something will give you some variety and fresh air and motivation. If you feel like falling asleep at 3 in the afternoon, maybe you should take your book out to a cafe.

Marathoners also load up on carbs before they run–you could do that too! A big huge plate of pasta before the marathon starts, but not during. It will make you too sleepy.Do you ever buy the meat-on-a-stick in the E-Mart deli? I know, a lot of it is processed meat, but it’s very tasty. It tastes good cold or microwaved.


Hard boiled eggs! Cook them ahead of time and have them waiting in the fridge. With lots of salt and pepper they are so delicious. I have a fool proof cooking method so if you want tips, just ask.

Yogurt! Crudites. You need some vegetables, and I’d recommend before the marathon starts, cut up some raw veggies and have them on standby. Cucumbers, red peppers, carrots. If you also have some lettuce leaves washed and ready, you could use them to wrap up gobs of the tuna, if you’re going to eat it. You’re going to have your frozen pizza on hand too, right?

Use the food to reward and motivate yourself, use it to wake yourself up (when you get sleepy stick with protein). Try not to overdo the coffee or it might bother your stomach and make you feel crazy. In the wee hours you’ll be happy to have some nice food as a reward.

Susan: Great ideas! I love tuna. I had 2 kinds of tuna things this week — cucumber sandwiches with tuna salad filling and tuna patties. I also buy hot spicy tuna regularly.

I’m stocked up on frozen pizza. I bought 3…they’re called Pizza Italiano and the package says they’re made in Italy.

Ooooh, I love Brie! (and this is the perfect time to indulge and not feel guilty) Asian pears make me feel like an international woman of mystery. The E-Mart sushi is nice.

I’ve never tried meat on a stick.

I’ll make a last-minute run for vegetables on Friday after work. Luckily, I have some Ranch for dip.

Hardboiled eggs — and I could check some Raymond Chandler out from the library!

Thanks so much for your much-needed help and your brilliant advice, Sandra — I owe you one. This should be my most successful Readathon.

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