This morning I read an article about a self-proclaimed “McRunner” who fueled his marathon training by eating only at McDonalds. Yikes~! While I do think that an occasional meal out can be included in a healthy diet, I cringe at the thought of what effect ingesting all those chemicals and preservatives has had on this man’s internal organs. Like it or not, health and fitness isn’t just about how you look!
Think about all the glorious things your body does for you – right now your heart is beating 5 liters of blood/minute around your body, your lungs are giving your cells oxygen so they can work, your kidneys are filtering out toxins and making sure you don’t get dehydrated…it’s ridiculously amazing when you stop to think about it.
Although most people think of their house as their home, in another way your body is your home too. Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose your body and you only get one in your lifetime, which makes it really important that you learn to respect and take care of it. Not everyone is built to be skinny or extensively muscular but you can certainly make the most of what you have to work with and still respect the environment. Step #1 is learning to eat real food.
Simple Instructions on How to Eat REAL food:
1. Eat fruits and vegetables as the foundation of your diet. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and also taste great! Fresh and frozen are similar in nutrient quality but avoid canned produce because it has added stuff to ensure it doesn’t go bad. I prefer fresh because there’s no packaging however if you tend to throw out half a head of rotting broccoli every week, frozen may be a better option for you.
2. Drink water not juice (sugar), milk (more sugar), or soda (pick your poison, sugar or aspartame? obesity or cancer?). Before, during, and after workouts is an EXCEPTION to this guideline, as you will see below.
3. Eat protein often. This includes meat, eggs, fish, protein powders (naturally flavored is best), and vegetarian sources like beans & rice, peanut butter & whole grain bread, nuts & seeds, tofu, etc.).
4. Eat healthy fats. Walnuts, salmon, olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc. are all high in Omega 3 fatty acids that your body cannot make on its own. These foods help keep your skin and nails strong and healthy 🙂
5. Make your own seasonings & sauces. Although there are a few good ones in the grocery store, many are lurking with unnatural ingredients or tons of salt & sugar. If you don’t have time to make your own, make sure you read the label and make a conscious choice before you put it on your plate.
6. Fuel your workouts by eating some carbs 1-2 hours beforehand. Bananas are tolerated well in most people but you can also have some grapes or a cup of juice.
7. Fuel your recovery by having some simple carbs and some protein within 30min of your workout. Good sources are low fat chocolate milk, a scoop of protein with milk and fruit, or low fat Greek Yogurt with berries and low fat granola.
8. Watch out for “all natural” “organic” processed foods. Just because those granola bars are made with all-natural organic ingredients doesn’t mean it’s good for you or the planet! Many of these products are still high in calories, sugar, and fat. Also they tend to be more expensive than their traditional counterparts. If you want a treat, an all-natural cookie is better than one from Tim Horton’s for sure, but don’t justify your bad habits with clever marketing!! A cookie is a cookie, whether it’s made with organic butter and agave nectar or lard and white sugar.
9. Kick out the fake foods. If you’ve ever been on a diet like Weight Watchers you have probably had sugar-free or low-calorie diet “foods” at some point. Why? Because these plans restrict your calories too much and you get hungry so you get to “eat without the calories”. THINK ABOUT THIS: YOU ARE PAYING MONEY TO PUT CHEMICALS IN YOUR BODY. How can you possibly think this is good for you or the planet? We don’t know what the long-term effects of these man-made chemicals are, though evidence shows links to cancers.
I get the fear some people have of choosing between “no calories” versus “calories”; that fear of getting fat can be more powerful than maybe getting cancer years down the road. I used to chew a pack of gum a day – I get it. But why are you paying $2.50 for a bottle of diet Coke when you can buy a whole bag of carrots instead? Liberate yourself from calorie-free crap and eat real food! Eat when you are actually hungry. Exercise. Love yourself.
10. Eat delicious food. If you have a really good meal and take your time to enjoy it, you will be more satisfied and eat less than if you just eat plain baked chicken with a side of plain broccoli. Cooking tasty food doesn’t have to be complicated! Look online for a few simple recipes, a healthy sauce, or a new way to spice up an old favorite. You may just surprise yourself at what you can whip up!
11. Honor and love your self. Sometimes it’s okay to eat chocolate cake and beer for supper. Sometimes it’s okay not to eat anything if you don’t feel like it. You can run a 10km race or go swimming in the ocean or lift weights. Make your soul happy. Be free.