As you may recall from my ranting post “Diets – Do They Work?“, I am not a huge fan of short term eating changes. Things like the Banana diet, cabbage diet, or even things such as cutting out all “xxx” do not work. Not that they do not cause a huge weight loss, they do. But as soon as you come off the diet, or slip into normal eating habits, you pile the weight on extremely quickly.
Focussing on changing my eating habits has been a lifelong quest. I have always struggled with my weight, and have personally tried many methods of losing weight. However, the best I have managed is making small changes to my daily routine in order to consume less calories overall than I am burning.
Pages supporting the best diets for runners are well meaning, but do not really help in making lifestyle choices to support you. However, if you know enough about the details and how each one works, you can pluck portions from each to support your own plan and lifestyle.
If you are training as well as changing your eating habits, you do need to consider that you may need a little more, and that your post-workout food and drink intake needs to be a little different. Developing a good nutrition plan is not rocket science, it just takes a bit of time. It is all well and good working out for an hour, but if you top up your calories with energy drinks, it is pointless. Likewise, if you walk out of the gym eating a sandwich, you haven’t got the best of the workout. Working and waiting is a good tactic. By holding off for at least an hour after a workout before eating, you give your muscles the chance to maintain their high energy, and burn off some extra calories in the process.
That’s All Well and Good, but HOW do I Eat Healthily?
Quite simple really. Pick up an item of food. Does it have ingredients? No? Brilliant, this is top level food. If it does, all is not lost though. Check through the list and see how much is added, or how much work has gone into preparation. It may taste delicious…
But turkey does not come in “twizzler” shapes, chicken does not come in nuggets and lamb does not come in boneless steaks. In general, the closer an item of food is to its natural form, the better. Once you have considered that point, and have determined your food is as natural as you want it to be, you consider the actual nutrition.
Caloric density is important. For 100g see how many calories you get. The more dense, the better. While this seems a little counter intuitive, hold on. You need a certain number of calories per day. It is better to get this in three meals. If you eat low caloric density food, you will be more hungry, and a lot more likely to snack. Eating like a medieval knight is a great method of working out if you should bite down.
Often there are barriers to eating healthily, and these are to be expected. Some foods do not “look” healthy, like bacon. You do need to know about what you are eating to work these things out. Other problems include not being able to cook, or throw together a decent meal, not being able to afford healthy food, or even fruit and vegetables. Other barriers are simple “life-based” things. A holiday or vacation can push you over the edge. Knowing how to counteract these issues is an important skill to have on your journey.
A final point to mention is “cheating“. The nature of this is that in all likelihood, you will not admit to yourself that you have done it. It is normal to want some nice food every now and again. If you can avoid slipping off the wagon, you are strong. But even if you do, having the strength to immediately kick back off with what you need to do, potentially even mitigating your slip, shows the real winners.