If there is one thing I am sure of, it’s that every body is different. While one person might thrive on a vegan diet, it may leave another bloated and lethargic (me me!!). There is more than one way to live and there are numerous ways to eat. Since I know there is no one size fits all solution to health and nutrition, I’ve worked really hard at trying things out and finding my own way. With a pretty extensive history of disordered eating, it’s important to me that no foods are ever categorized as “off-limits”, and while I research and borrow from different *diets, I’m always adjusting and modifying plans to fit my taste, tolerance, and lifestyle.
With all that being said, there are some things I’ll only eat on a cheat day and others that I just won’t touch. I don’t eat fast food–ever. Crappy food makes me feel like crap. When I eat something deep fried or indulgent, I want it to be worth it–I want to enjoy it and feel happy after I eat it. Frankly, I feel only two things after I eat fast food and they both involve a swift run to the loo.
I think of diet and nutrition the same way I think of running or writing–there’s always room to grow and I’m open to learning from other people’s experiences and sharing ideas. That’s what this post is really all about–sharing and tossing around info and tips.
I wanted to wait to get a few weeks into marathon training before I talked about nutrition because I wasn’t sure how I might tweak certain things. I typically eat a diet almost completely void of grain and I wasn’t sure if that was going to have to change with all the extra mileage. As many of you may have read here before, my Ma is a holistic nutritionist. I feel so fortunate to always be able to powwow with her and figure out what’s working for me and what’s not. She was skeptical about me suddenly adding in grains and extra carbohydrate because she knows that my body has not reacted well to them in the past. Grains and sugar create a lot of inflammation in my body and leave me bloated, sore, and generally uncomfortable–not exactly what I’d call performance enhancing!
Instead of going the normal carb-loading route, I decided to pretty much stick to my normal clean diet–only with even more food added to it–more fat, more protein, and more fruit (I always get plenty of veg but have tended to limit my fruit in the past due to the sugar.) I looked into the bulletproof/ketogenic lifestyle while I was trying to figure out my nutrition and I found that the plans as a whole were a bit too extreme for me. I’m not afraid of fat and I’ve actually successfully incorporated some suggested sources of fat from these plans. Still, the ratios of these diets didn’t seem right to me. Although I do eat meat, my diet is very vegetable heavy and any plan that steers me away from that makes me skeptical. These diets also frown on almost any sugars. Normally I would as well but I am utilizing gels and chews on my long runs. They give me the fuel I need in the form of quick burning sugars; as long as I’m only using these for energy on my long runs they won’t stick around in my body as inflammation or settle around my belly as extra fat.
I don’t count calories or carbs or macros–I eat as much on intuition as I possibly can. Here’s what I’ve been noshing on during a typical day lately:
Wakeup (between 445-545am):
Notes: My early morning routine has probably got a couple of things some people will think are strange, but they really work for me. I am currently LOVING the combo of the MCT oil and banana in the morning–the fat + carb gives me the sustained push I need to get through my strength training at the gym. I bring the bone broth with me and drink it right before I hop on the treadmill for hill interval or speed workouts. Bone broth is kind of my secret weapon–salty liquid + protein is this runner’s dream! I know to some people taking a shot of oil seems crazy and maybe even gross. It’s become just like throwing down a quick supplement to me so it’s really easy. Healthy fats like this one have helped fuel and satiate me in a way that I never knew was possible–I’m a big believer!
Breakfast (after run/gym, 745-815am):
- Vega One Nutritional Shake (veggies + protein)/ Vega Sport Protein Shake (lift days)
- Steamed veg (broccoli, spinach blend, or cauliflower) w/ grass-fed butter
Notes: I have been buying these two Vega products for years now and I really love them. They use really clean ingredients and a great plant protein. I really appreciate that I can get a big serving of veggies PLUS protein all in one shake. While I love cold-pressed juices I only treat myself to them once a week after yoga. They are SO expensive and I’m still hungry after since there’s no protein. These shakes get that protein right to my muscles after my workout. When I combine that with my veg/butter combo, I’ve got all the energy I need to tackle my morning commute. I know some of you might be thinking: veggies for breakfast? Gross! I’m telling you though if you’re a person who can build routine, give this a try! Sure the first few times, broccoli in the AM tastes totally foreign and weird. But I swear, after a week or two, you’ll be missing those morning greens if they’re not on hand. I’m kind of of the mindset that I can never get enough veggies so I’ve found having them for breakfast is a great way to start my day on the right track. Also–adding the fat to them makes them super satiating!
Arrive at work (9am):
- Cup of Tulsi Tea w/ grass-fed collagen
Notes: Checking work emails/responding to blog comments/listening to the BBC at my desk with this cup of tea is usually the most relaxing part of my day. Tulsi tea has amazing anti-inflammatory properties so I love to visualize it soothing my joints as the collagen lubricates them.
Second brekkie/snack (10-1030am):
- Half or full can of sardines OR
- Baked yam w/ grass-fed ghee OR
- Homemade guacamole w/ crisped grain-free tortilla
Notes: I am pretty lucky to work at a place that has a full kitchen–I’m not sure that’s something everyone has. I take full advantage and regularly bake yams or whip up a quick guacamole. PS- the grain-free tortillas might be one of my favorite products on earth. They are made from only a few ingredients–the main one being almonds. I usually throw a little good fat on the cast iron skillet and crisp them up quickly so they are like tostadas. I throw eggs on them, guacamole, even tuna-they are amazing. This second breakfast is based on feel–sometimes my body is calling for a carb/fat combo, other times it’s telling me I need more protein. That’s where the sardines come in. I rediscovered them on our recent trip to Portugal and it was such a light bulb moment–I LOVE them, and they are kind of my perfect food–sustainable + protein + healthy fat. Not to mention super affordable! Now I’m aware that sardines are not for everyone and even the smell can be a huge turnoff for some. This is why I eat them over the kitchen sink instead of at my desk! My coworkers are really great and put up with all of my “different” eating habits (we all know what steamed broccoli smells like), but this one I spare them, and I believe they are grateful.
- Salad w/protein/fat/veg OR
- Meat plus veg OR
- Bean dish plus veg
Notes: I work in the TV/Film industry and a part of that gig is getting lunch and other craft service paid for. It’s a great perk. It also means that I order lunch every day. While I know ordering from restaurants is problematic for some–I love it, and find I can usually get a healthy and satisfying meal. I would say I order a salad once a week, sometimes twice-but that’s it. I love a hot meal at lunch. The rest of the days are anything from Thai to sushi (NO RICE!), to Indian or Mexican, and pretty much everything in between. Our production assistants do a great job of offering a good variety from day to day and it really helps me break out of the regimented food plan that encapsulates a good portion of my day. Pro tip: I always steam an extra veggie in the morning and bring it with me to work so I know I have my greens on hand–it makes selecting lunch a little easier when all I have to worry about is the protein.
- Kombucha AND/OR
- Berries or cherries AND/OR
- Spoonful of almond butter
Notes: Nothing refreshes me like kombucha–it’s my fav afternoon pick me up. I love to throw one in the freezer for 15-20 minutes so it get’s reallly cold–seriously, so delish. (Pro tip: Remember it’s in the freezer or results may be explosive!). I love berries in the afternoon as well–more refreshment and more anti-inflammatories (you may be noticing my eat-to-reduce inflammation pattern–I find it’s the key to feeling my best and reducing injury!)
- Organic/free range/grass-fed/ OR wild caught meat or fish
- Veggie (usually mixed green salad)
Notes: Dinner in our house on a weeknight has to live up to three requirements: Quick, clean, and yummy. Most nights I get dinner on the table within 20-30 minutes. In the winter I’ll take a little more time and roast some veggies in the oven–but in the warmer months, a salad is the easiest way to go and feels more fresh and comfortable. There’s not a ton of variety going on here–I tend to leave that for the weekend. Still, it’s pretty hard for me to get bored of a nicely seared steak or a good roast chicken. My goal is always simple food, done well. I guess you guys will have to ask my hubs to see how I’m doing on that!
- Sweet Stuff!
Notes: So truth be told, I stay away from dairy 98% of the time–but I gotta have pizza, at least once a month. I totally nerd it up and actually mark when we have pizza on the calendar–I would probably order it way too often if I didn’t do this, I love it. That’s another one of those trades. You might ask, why not eat it a little more often if you love it so much? The truth is, my taste buds love it, but my body doesn’t. Pizza is a Friday night stay at home/not going anywhere treat. The gluten in the dough leaves me bloated and sluggish–and the dairy necessitates that I stay close to the facilities for hours after I eat it. So–worth it, but only so often.
There was a time when I went a little crazy on the weekends–I felt like I deserved it after eating right and getting my workouts in all week. Thing is, the older I get, the lousier I feel after too many treats. My body takes too much time to recover and I end up tired and full of regret–that is not at all how I want to feel about eating–my relationship to food is too important, it’s not something I’m willing to take for granted.
Speaking of recovery time, since marathon training has my long runs scheduled for Sundays, I have recently moved my cheat meals to the same day–it works a lot better than mowing down on something on Saturday night that inhibits my efforts the next morning!
What about you? Do you have a cheat day or do you allow yourself small treats each day? What kind of foods make you feel best? Does your nutrition change drastically when you are training for something? Do you believe in diets? I’m curious to hear what you think…Please share your thoughts!
*I use the word “diet” throughout. When I do, I am referring to the types of food that are habitually eaten by someone–not a method of constriction used to lose weight. I don’t believe in these type of diets–I just can’t get behind eating in any manner that I can’t maintain or is set to be temporary.
Header Image: Neha-Deshmukh via Unsplash
Fries: Stephanie Mccabe via Unsplash