If you ask any health professional, they will tel you just about the same thing. Eat whole, natural, healthy foods. My chiropractor tells me to eat things the way they appear in nature – fresh off the tree or vine, straight out of the ground, or freshly cut and ready to cook. “If it has been chopped, blended, or otherwise mutilated, then it is not longer good for you,” he always says.
Unfortunately, that is not the way I tend to eat. I want convenience. My “healthy” snacks and foods include protein bars, energy bars, gel packs, sugar-free pudding, and some granola. All of these things are quite the opposite of what my chiropractor wants me to eat. They are all prepackaged and highly processed. I try to make up for it with multi-vitamins and other supplements, but I am sure that this is less than ideal.
Compared to many of my friends and family, my snacks really are healthy. They tend to be lower sugar and lower calories than most. Still… if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then I ought to be at the doctor’s office at least once a week. Why is it so difficult to eat the right thing?
I justify my lack of fresh fruits and vegetables by pointing out that I live an unpredictable lifestyle. I usually do not know what I want to eat until it is time to eat. That means that fresh foods often go bad before I get around to wanting them. This is not a productive outlook, of course. It is important for everyone to eat with purpose. Yes, you should enjoy what you eat. Many fruits and vegetables are quite yummy after all.
So here is a note to myself and any other runners with poor eating habits and mindsets:
If you want to get the maximum enjoyment out of running, you must eat with purpose. Choose delicious, satisfying foods that will get you ready to run with vigor and endurance.
While there are many different philosophies out there, I am going to propose that we stick to one that sounds the most balanced. You should get about 50 percent of your calories from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat, and 15 percent from protein. You should be a little flexible with this, however. The longer your run, the more carbs you will require.
What does that look like on your plate? Here are some great food choices for runners (or anyone else for that matter). All of these foods are tasty, satisfying and take little or no preparation:
Frozen Stir-fry Vegetables
Frozen Mixed Berries
Mixed Salad Greens
Whole-Grain Cereal with Protein
My list comes from an article on Runner’s World, but the truth is that these are some of the same foods listed as healthy on web sites of all sorts. They are just good foods, full of nutrients and energy for the active runner.
Good luck on changing your habits. I look forward to hearing from you. Please tell us what changes you are making. What works for you?
“Train hard, race easy, & enjoy the run!” — P. Mark Taylor