Eating Healthy Meals: Advice from a former junk-food junky
Does leading an active lifestyle make up for eating whatever you want?
I always thought so, and fuelled all my outdoor activities with a diet of pizza and cake. It's carbo loading, right?
It turns out you don't need to carbo-load every time you step out the front door with a backpack on. It also turns out cake is not ideal for carbo-loading.
Now that I'm in my early thirties, I've finally started taking a sensible approach to nutrition and realized that the adage “you get out what you put in,” is actually true. I need to start eating right.
That's not to say it's easy. Just because I know I shouldn't eat a McDonald’s breakfast before going climbing or hiking, doesn't mean I don't want to do it... and on occasion I just can't resist. But I know that if I do, I won't perform at my best and chances are I'll feel like rubbish afterwards. So how do you kick the habit and start eating right?
Create healthy meal plans whether you’re training or not
At present, I'm not training for anything in particular; I just want to remain in good shape so I'm prepared for any opportunities that come up. Paying attention to what I eat is helping me be healthy and strong.
There have been a few key sacrifices on this journey to nutritional self-fulfillment. The main one: sugar. Processed sugar is NOT good for you, nor is it necessary in any way, shape or form. Good, natural sugars from fruit, honey and grains are OK in moderation and help produce the energy your body needs, but chocolate and cake have had to go. My self-control is not good enough to simply enjoy one square of chocolate. It's the whole bar or nothing. Nothing is the healthier option for me when I’m trying to eat right.
Pasta and rice have also been a casualty. As a runner, I felt perfectly justified in eating rice or pasta pretty much every evening for dinner until someone (a qualified nutritionist and personal trainer) pointed out that at the speed I run at, (sub-5:30 marathon) I do not need to carbo-load in the same way that a sub-3 hour marathon runner does. So here’s a tip for eating healthy, put the noodles down and step away from the spaghetti.
It’s OK to carbo-load with grains right before a big event, but if you’re wondering how to eat right and still get your carbs on a regular basis, you have other, healthier options. The majority of my carbs now are coming from green leafy vegetables. Spinach for breakfast took a bit of getting used to, but I now quite enjoy it with my sausages. Weird, I know.
Dinners these days involve lean, grass-fed meats, and a large pile of steamed vegetables. You can do some amazing things with chicken if you have a well stocked spice rack!
The perks of kicking the habit and eating right
It wasn’t long before I noticed the difference in how I was feeling; far less bloated, more energy and oddly enough my craving for sugar has lessened dramatically.
Now that I have the healthy meals planned, all it's going to take to keep eating right is self-control – that's where it gets tough!