Have you ever heard the phrase “You are what you eat?” I agree with that statement 100%. Running does not require a special diet; it just requires a healthy, balanced diet.
Please know that I am NOT a dietician. I have taken several nutrition courses, but I do not have a license to “tell you what to eat”. Anything posted comes strictly from my own opinion, Choose My Plate , and The World’s Healthiest Foods.
On a daily basis I try to eat 90% of my meals and snacks from whole foods. By whole foods I mean un-processed. I am weird and grocery shop every Tuesday (mainly because the Health Market is 20% on Tuesdays). Saving 20% becomes a big deal when I train for marathons, mainly because I am constantly hungry and my grocery bill doubles (or triples…) My shopping cart typically consists of:
- Fruit (fresh and frozen)
- Vegetables (fresh and frozen)
- Salad (the darker green the better)
- Salmon, scallops, shrimp (I really enjoy seafood!)
- Grains (quinoa, whole wheat pasta, steel cut oats)
- Italian or French Roast Coffee (the darker the better!)
- Silk soy milk (light vanilla) and Silk unsweetened almond milk
- Portabella mushrooms (large and baby bellas)
- Chocolate of some kind (Bacci from Italy is my favorite. I accidentally got hooked while there… )
- Hummus (sun-dried tomato is my favorite)
- Wheat Thins
That list is just a regular week. I of course have baking and cooking staples (whole wheat flour, white flour, salt, sugar, etc). Yes, I do occasionally eat “bad/junk” food. However, I keep it to a minimum. Eating junk food does not sit well with me, and I cannot run optimally the next day.
Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Examples of grains that are beneficial are:
- Whole wheat
- Brown Rice
Try to avoid “refined” grains such as white bread, bleach white flour, and white rice. When grains are refined they lose a lot of their nutrients such as dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Refining grains helps to lengthen their shelf life, but does not help with a healthy diet. Most refined grains are enriched. Enriched means that certain B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron are added back after processing. Fiber is not added back to enriched grains.
I LOVE fruits and cannot get enough of them! Fruits provide a ridiculous amount of vitamins and nutrients, as well as many health benefits. Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are underconsumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate. Fruits can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and obesity.
When shopping for fresh fruits it is important to know which fruits are in season. “Fresh” strawberries are not in season where I live during the winter. Therefore, strawberries at the grocery store in the middle of winter have lost of lot of their nutrients due to being picked prematurely and being shipped to Iowa. Instead, fresh frozen strawberries are the better option during winter. It is important to look at labels though. Many frozen fruits have added sugar and syrup. Make sure to buy frozen fruit with no additives. Frozen fruits are GREAT for smoothies!
Typical fruits that I eat:
Just like fruits, vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C. When shopping for vegetables, the same rules applies as it does for fruits. When purchasing fresh veggies, make sure they are in season. If they aren’t, buy the freshly frozen. Here are some of my favorite vegetables:
Foods in the meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and seed group provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. However, choosing foods from this group that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol may have health implications. I personally do not like red meat, and rarely eat white meat (chicken and turkey). I am NOT a vegetarian, I just do not like the taste of meat. I do however love seafood and get a lot of my protein from that, nuts, tofu, and beans.
Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds supply many nutrients. These include protein, B vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and B6), vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Seafood contains a range of nutrients, notably the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Eating about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood contributes to the prevention of heart disease. Smaller amounts of seafood are recommended for young children.
Here are great sources of protein:
All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk (cheese & yogurt) are considered part of the dairy group. Most dairy choices should be fat-free or low-fat. Cream cheese, cream, and butter, are not considered dairy, as they provide little to no nutritional value. Soy and almond milk are however considered dairy. I personally cannot get enough soy milk! I do not like the taste of regular milk (I actually hate it) so I drink soy. I do use regular milk for cooking and baking however.
When running, or just trying to be healthy, it is important to eat a balanced diet. I do not like “fad” diets because they are usually not a sustainable way of living or eating. Instead, if you just try to eat a balanced diet, you are eating healthy!
Not only do I feel great because I eat healthy, my running continues to improve. Healthy foods give you the right kind of energy that your body needs. If I happen to eat junk food, I typically feel sick the next day and I notice my running suffers. For me it is not worth it. However, that is just a personal choice and one that you will have to make and find out what is right for you.
I also try to snack throughout the day. It can be hard since I am teaching little ones all day, but I manage to sneak in some easy snacks.