More and more, I’m comfortable not only thinking of myself as an athlete but also describing myself as one when talking to others. This is not something that comes easy to me but I think it’s something that I’ve earned over the past couple of years. Between training, cross training, reading and writing, it’s fair to say that other than my family, running gets most of my attention.
The loftier I set my goals, the more I realize that I need to be more conscious of all the areas of my life that affect my running. Sleep is obviously important. Cross training and maintenance also are key to staying healthy. One area that I neglect that I actually have total control over is what goes into my body to fuel it.
I have been watching various documentaries on food, nutrition and healthy eating and also been trying to read more about eating specifically from the perspective of runners. I also met with a naturopath/holistic nutritionist this week (which I will be writing more about in a future post). I’ve been taking the approach that rather than radically overhaul my diet overnight, if I can add more heathy, natural foods to my diet while gradually reducing and eliminating less healthy and processed foods, it will benefit my overall health and my running.
In the past few months, I’ve added a few things to my diet that seem to have made a difference in my energy and mood. I’m not saying that they are miracle foods and I know that everyone has things that work better for them or don’t work as well as they have heard or expect. That being said, here are three things I’ve added to my diet and three things I need to reduce or eliminate. Help me be accountable, people!!
My 3 Best Diet Additions
I’ve made a habit of adding a tablespoon of chia seeds to my smoothies, which I have 3-4 times a week. I am going to make an effort to having chia daily. I don’t want to take a lot of space talking about chai, but there is a pretty good write up about them here.
Algae.<sarcasmfont> Yummy!!</sarcasmfont> First learning about this via Twitter and the company Energy Bits, spirulina has become another staple of my diet. I have used both the powdered form (in smoothies) and tablet form and I don’t really have a preference. Besides turning my smoothies very, very green it also has a green flavour. The flavour can be disguised pretty easily which is a good thing. I’ve even tried taking the tablets in lieu of energy gels ahead of hard workouts or races with good results.
Steel Cut Oats
Another thing I’ve been having on a regular basis of late is steel cut oats. This is a very filling and very simple thing to make. It does take a little bit of time compared to other breakfast items but is very simple and one batch makes four servings for me. I actually make them in the evening and just warm them up in the morning. Adding in some chopped walnuts and a dash of brown sugar adds some extra texture and flavour but I’ve also eaten them plain.
My Top 3 Secret Food Shames
This is without a doubt the worst food that I consume on a regular basis. How regular? Every. Single. Day. When my biggest victory to date has been switching to Cheez Whiz Light, I feel like there is a lot of room to improve here.
I do indulge in convenience foods on average 1-2 times a week. In general, it’s something I need to work on reducing. The amount of money saved is minimal and I almost always feel guilty (both nutritionally and as a parent). As chicken fingers are the junk food that I crave most frequently, I am using it as both a specific and representative food of shame.
I don’t actually eat poutine very often, but it is one of the unhealthiest things out there. So, so delicious but sooooooo much salt and fat. And yumminess. I probably eat it less than one time a month but it’s still worth mentioning. Again, it’s specific but also representative of those splurge (or even reward) moments where for some reason I rationalize that I “deserve” it. At least for me personally, sabotaging my diet is probably not the most productive to reward hard work.
So that’s a little summary of the main gains and pains of my eating habits. I’m still deciding whether or not to start journaling my food intake to get an even better idea of my diets balance. I don’t want to be a calorie counter and I DO actually feel like the occasional treat (NOT reward) is ok, too. What are your thoughts? Have you added or subtracted any foods from your diet of late? Any tips, tricks or questions on healthier eating? I’d love your thoughts!