This is a question I’ve been getting asked a lot lately. The short answer is “No”. I could probably write a whole book on my nutrition, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll keep it short and sweet (pun intended?). There are a few reasons I can’t just eat anything, and there are some good reasons I eat the select items that make up my current diet.
Calorie intake is critical when in peak Ironman training. There are days when I burn somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000+ calories. I have to replenish those calories, but I am careful and consistent in how I do so. Sure, my husband’s diet from way back when I met him (combo pizzas, cheeseburgers, and breakfast burritos from Los Betos in Tucson) sounds great, and can bring lots of calories back in. But if I stuck to such a diet, I probably get hit with heart attack, or best case scenario, end up in bed for days on end, and not be able to train in a consistent manner because I felt sluggish and slow.
My body needs calories, and I have to stick to things that don’t weigh me down. Here is a look at what I’m currently eating. This diet packs in a good mix of protein, carbs, and vitamins, while bringing in plenty of calories. Most importantly, I feel good after I eat, and while training…which is the most critical piece of the puzzle. The right mix is different for every individual, but here what works for me…
Breakfast: In the morning some days after 6am spin (no food before) I start with a few cups of coffee and a Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar while I scramble to make the kids breakfast, lunch, get them dressed for school and out the door…. The fig bars are Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher and travel easily for the days I am running behind (everyday). My favorite flavor changes every couple of months, but right now I love the plain Fig flavored bar.
Once I return home and am planning for either a long run & swim, or bike and run, I blend up a green smoothie. The contents change, but right now, my recipe is: spinach, banana, blueberry, Greek yogurt, Chia seeds, flax seeds, and maybe avocado. This breakfast combo is filling, lean, healthy, and doesn’t weigh me down. Ready for the day!
Mid-Morning Snack: These are mid-morning when time permits, sometimes midafternoon, but more often than not shortly after the above mentioned breakfast…this snack is also high calorie, has some good fat, and helps keep me going without weighing me down. Quick and easy too….one piece of whole wheat bread in the toaster, some peanut butter, and a banana. That’s it…peanut butter banana toast. Love this for a little extra calorie boost when I’m feeling hungry.
Lunch: My go to lunch right now is similar in nature to one of the items from my husband’s college menu, only it’s a much healthier version. As good as those greasy breakfast burritos were on Sunday mornings, or in Chip’s case 3 times per day, seven days a week, the grease bomb (gut bombs) just don’t work today. My version is more like this: 2 egg whites, spinach, and mushrooms…avocado and/or fresh salsa on top. Sometimes in a tortilla, sometimes with chips, sometimes just the way it’s written above with a fork, and a little cheese. It’s important on this one to keep it simple, feel free to mix in other ingredients, but I’d suggest keeping it easy on the grease, and only include items that are easy on your tummy.
I usually incorporate training and racing calories on the go into my afternoon, and that is a whole separate article in itself, so I’m not going to elaborate in this blog on the items I eat while training and racing, so I'll stick to the outside-of-workout meals.
Dinner: My go to dinner right now is something super easy to make, like a healthy soup, a premade pizza from Whole Foods, or ready-made microwavable foods from Trader Joes . I know, microwave, but sometimes I don’t have the energy to cook and clean up a huge gourmet meal.
Then there is my favorite meal which I never ever skip, my dessert or bedtime snack…something light and simple to keep me full before bed, and help with overnight recovery. My go to evening snack right now is a mix of vanilla ice cream with either granola and fruit, or maybe homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies OR brownies. This is a small serving, and just enough to curb my major sweet tooth I have had since the day I was born I’m told…
So there you have it…do I eat whatever I want? Sort of, because I want to always feel good, and I only eat things that bring me to that end. If the underlying question though is do I eat unhealthy calories, then hopefully I’ve answered the question with this blog post. Happy meals!