What surprises me the most is that as an athlete, I get similar questions that make me wonder if people are striving to eat like a dietitian or like an elite athlete?
Funny thing is that there is no perfect or ideal diet so it may be better to stop searching around for the "perfect" healthy diet or the "perfect" fueling strategy for an active lifestyle and instead to focus on your individual needs.
One of my best tips that has really helped me out as a health-conscious individual who trains and races at a high level, is to eat food that makes me feel good.
Certainly, this can be taken into many different contexts but if you think about it, when you live a mindful lifestyle, you are thinking about the upcoming in a balanced and healthy manner.
If donuts or pizza make you feel good, how much would you need to eat until you didn't feel good? Even if your answers may be 5 pieces of pizza or 10 donuts, you still have to consider other areas that may be impacted by the question of "how much would you need to eat until you didn't feel good. Would body composition change, would workouts suffer, would sleep be affected, would your mood change, would your future relationship w/ food change, would you be able to maintain a balanced diet afterward? All of these questions are important when you eat mindfully and this is how I have learned as a RD and as an athlete to develop a healthy relationship with food.
I can openly say that I don't bash my body or have an unhealthy relationship with food. Two habits that took a while to acquire and certainly in today's society, it's hard to maintain that healthy relationship with food and the body.
I realize that weighing 15-20 lbs more by eating "mindfully" and enjoying food that makes me feel good but in larger portions, would not make me feel good for it is too much weight on my body. On the flip side, I have voiced my thoughts in previous posts on having a healthy relationship w/ the body. I could weigh 10 lbs less by eating mindfully and finding foods that don't make me feel good because they don't allow me to lose weight...BUT, I have no desire to lose weight that perhaps to some, may feel is "not needed" on the body. To me, the pros and cons of body composition changes in relation to changing the diet always need to be weighed. At the end of the day, I am a RD and a competitive athlete. Food fuels my lifestyle and workout routine. No one is living my life except for me. If I do a 12.5 mile interval run on Sun (as I did yesterday), why should I eat like someone who didn't exercise that day? My body needs more fuel than someone who didn't place the added stress on their body and on the flip side, on my day off, I do not have to eat like everyone else just because I am rewarding my body with a day of rest to allow for an upcoming week of training.
I feel no matter how you aspire to eat or your idea of the "perfect" diet for your lifestyle, it's so important to consider your own environment and body needs and discovering an individual definition of healthy. Elite/pro athletes do not always have "perfect" diets but may have the body image you desire. The also may put in the work w/ training that you do not have time for or you may not be able to achieve. Dietitians are not required to eat by the book but rather, understand the physiology of the body and to take a personalized approach to help others live a more healthful lifestyle. If you struggle with how to eat...stop wasting time trying to search around on the Internet or in the bookstore for the answer. Consult with a qualified personnel like a RD to help guide you in your own personal journey.
Here are a few creations that I have enjoyed in the past few days.....Enjoy!
We only eat out a few times during the year, typically reserved to traveling and a special occasion like our birthday or anniversary. With friends in town, we went out to Cheesecake factory for lunch yesterday and I enjoyed this delicious veggie burger. YUM!
A Delicious “Burger” Made with Brown Rice, Farro, Black Beans, Fresh Beets & Onion. Served on a Toasted Bun with Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Pickles & Mayo. Served with a Green Salad.
Stuffed bell peppers for dinner for Karel and our friends on Saturday evening. YUMMO! Super easy thanks to my stove and crockpot helping me out throughout the day. I prepared 1/2 bag 12- bean mix and 1/2 bag lentils in crockpot w/ water filled just a bit over the beans. I cooked for 6 hours on medium heat. I prepared bulgur on the stove for 60 minutes until soft. I started all of this when I came home from my group bike ride for easy meal prep around 5:30. I removed the top from each pepper with a knife, scooped out the center and stuffed w/ a mix of rice and beans (prepared in separate bowl) with a little marinara inside each pepper. I topped w/ raw chopped garlic and drizzled with a little olive oil and seasoned with fresh oregano, chili pepper, pepper and a little salt. I cooked in glass casserole dish layered thinly w/ marinara sauce at 425 degrees for around 45-50 minutes until soft (as pictured above). I provided cheese (cheddar and mozzarella) on the table for toppings for each person.
Yum - oven-baked eggplant pizza slices w/ a large salad. I sliced eggplant into thick slices and lined on a glass casserole dish (I used two of them) which was rubbed in olive oil. I covered each eggplant w/ a little of the oil (it loves to soak it up) and seasoned w/ paprika, rosemary, a little salt and pepper. After baking for 20 minutes or so at 350 degrees, I drizzled with marinara and topped w/ cheese and returned to the oven until cheese was melted (~3 minutes). I prepared a salad of mixed greens and arugula, topped w/ vine tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and cottage cheese (2% Daisy Cottage Cheese).
Who loves breakfast for dinner? Or as my friend Jason B. would say "Brinner". This creation was made last week and enjoyed after a busy day of early morning training, computer work, speaking to HS kids at a school on healthy eating for an active lifestyle and then more computer work. Two slices fresh bread (in our house, you will only find fresh bread and the occasional pita bread. With Karel growing up in Europe, fresh is best and although not "typical" in US, I've grown to love this new yummy eating habit) prepared w/ 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites topped w/ cranberries, almonds and cinnamon and roasted pears (prepared on same pan in a little olive oil). 1 sunny side up egg on sauteed spinach in olive oil. Typically, I top my french toast w/ PB, yogurt or frozen fruit (lightly cooked in microwave until soft). I don't do the sugar-free stuff (syrup, jelly, etc.) so if I need a smoother spread, I'll do real maple syrup, honey or jam.