“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” ~Kofi Annan
The Evolution of My Diet
My diet has changed over the past two decades as I have changed. From the beginning I would say that I was luckier than most. Healthier, at least. My Japanese mother extended her Asian influence into the types of foods she prepared from scratch, everyday without fail. I cannot stress how important sit-down family dinners are to children as they grow up.
I ate a healthy portion of white rice almost every night of my childhood, with steamed or stir-fried veggies or a salad, and a little serving of lean meat or fish. Snacking was discouraged, so I always had a healthy appetite. For birthdays and special occasions we has the regular treats 🙂 Usually homemade by my mom, a great baker.
Things hit the rocks however, when I decided that I wanted to be a vegetarian at 14. I began eschewing meat on my own, without telling my parents. My dad is a typical meat and potatoes American (somehow he is able to eat like a goat and never gets sick or gains weight) and my mom believed that “you need to eat meat for protein”. This decision coincided with the advent of my anorexia, and the restrictions of vegetarianism and veganism provided the perfect cover.
I’ve come to a healthy place, after the 5 years of eating disorders (16-20 years old). Now I eat to fuel my body to run far and fast, feel strong, and recover quickly. Of course, I also want to maintain a lean physique, in order to race at an optimum level. The balance between gaining and losing weight while still having enough energy to perform and recover does require monitoring calories and adjusting according to your activities for the day. So is there a label for how I eat? Here’s the breakdown: vegan, high-carb, low-fat (oil free), whole foods. I’ve dabbled with a high raw, mostly fruit diet before and didn’t really like the results, after reading books by McDougall, Campbell, etc. This is what I have concluded, the healthiest and slimmest people run on carbohydrates which is the primary fuel source for all your cells. All plant foods contain optimum ratios of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in their unadulterated state. Low fat is best for my body (not no fat!). And protein is no problem only eating plants. I add minimal salt (or none), use no oil, and refrain from packaged foods with more than 3-5 ingredients. If I cook, I usually just steam veggies. I don’t eat nuts, and avoid unnatural soy products.
What DO I eat?
LUNCH: big salad (raw)+ steamed sweet potato (extra large) salad: dried corn (eq. to 1 ear), chopped spinach, 1 large carrot, snap peas, cucumber, 1 med. zucchini
SNACK: 1 Tbsp. chia seeds (soaked in green tea to expand into gel)
DINNER: 3-ish cups cauliflower (raw), 1.5 heads (large) Romaine lettuce leaves, 3 (large) steamed sweet potatoes
Here’s a quick look into my fridge today (Aug. 22, 2014) It’s normally stocked. And also a peek at my pantry staples!
Things I eat a lot: dried bananas (before hard workouts), dried apricots, Vega protein smoothie (after hard workouts).
Things I keep on hand for sometimes: quinoa (I also have rice), dried Goji berries, canned pumpkin and sweet potatoes (as well as low-fat split pea soup).
Big bags of frozen blueberries and strawberries, frozen corn, frozen shelled edamame, and quick microwave brown rice.
Fuel for Performance
This is how I currently eat and fuel to run hard everyday 🙂 Of course, it was a long and windy road to get to this point. Filled with diet pitfalls and nutrition myths. However, I believe I feel the best I have ever felt! I have energy and feel happy and healthy this way. I’ll keep you updated as things change, I’m always open to new information and experiments. You never know until you try. And once you learn better, you do better.
I definitely pay attention to my calories. In the past when I tried to a high raw/fuitarian 80/10/10 style diet, I was cramming over 3,000 calories of whole plant foods in everyday and I gained weight. Yes, if you eat more than you need, you do gain weight even if it is all fruits and veggies! Now I eat accordingly. If I run long or know I have a hard run the next morning, I eat more to have the energy to run and recover. If it’s a “light” day, like this example day (6 miles easy) than I just eat normally for my daily activities. Pay attention to how you feel, no matter what.