I love food. I love it to celebrate with, to mourn with, to ease stress with, to plan trips and days around; I just love food. For a good chunk of my life, I also hated food and, frankly, feared it. It was a cause of angst as a teenager and most of my 20’s. I had a love hate relationship with food and with dieting. I was on WeightWatchers on and off since I was 16, I have done south beach, I have restricted calories, I have tracked food, but I have never succeeded with any of these for longer than a few weeks. For the last 2 years, I have not been on any specific “diet”. I follow some basic nutrition rules that work for me and been the most successful.
So what changed 2 years ago? I stopped looking at food as the enemy and started to understand how it could help me become stronger and leaner. I would notice that weeks where I “fell off” my diet, I was feeling leaner the next week and training better. Weeks where I thought I was doing so well, keeping calories low, training a ton, resulted in little change on the scale. Why was this? Looking back, I was not eating enough during my good weeks, but was when I fell off the diet. My body was working better with more fuel and the result was weight loss.
The other big change was I embraced protein; something I had avoided for a long time because I thought it added too many calories. I would only eat chicken or fish and only at dinner, but now I eat eggs, burgers, turkey burgers, chicken, fish, steak all day, at most meals. With that, my body comp changed, I felt a lot better, and over the past 2 years I have become comfortable with food. I still go back and forth sometimes, but I remind myself that I can easily get back on track and that 1 day or 1 weekend does not mean the end of all of my hard work.
So now that you have heard about my love for food and my issues around it, let me share what I eat, when, and how I stay on track to feel my best.
As you have heard from the other coaches, food prep is needed to succeed. I too food prep, but since I love food, I can’t eat the same thing every day and night out of Tupperware in the microwave. I need to mix it up at least for 1 meal. I tend to food prep for breakfast and lunch and then have easy to make things in the house for dinner. Disclaimer, I am a good, quick chef so things that are easy to me may make you say, how the hell is that easy?
Here is what I will make on Sundays:
· Egg frittata/bake made of 12 eggs, 1 sweet potato, onion and peppers.
· Lunch items- sweet potato, protein(chicken, steak tips, turkey burgers, burgers.) Whatever I am feeling while at the grocery store.
· Quick items to cook- 10 minute grains from whole foods, sautéed chicken, broiled steak tips, shrimp, maybe a piece of fish.
· Smoothies- I usually do this 2 smoothies at a time- no good reason why I don’t do more. Protein powder, banana, almond milk, PB
· Snacks- I always have fruit available. I enjoy hummus and carrots or pretzels. Sometimes I will eat quest bars, Rx bars, nuts, or jerky. (Still working on what is best for me)
If you really crave it, eat it
This is still a hard one for me, but after giving into cravings and surviving, I now let myself have the food I am really craving. This also makes it so I do not overindulge in fear I will never get it again. I used to eat a lot of low fat, sugar free, blah blah blah items. Now I try to eat things that are most natural. So good bye, low fat, no sugar ice cream or candy or fake stuff. Now, if I want something really bad, I will get it, enjoy it and move on. I try to eat in moderation. Moderation is wayyyy easier said than done and I totally get that. So, when I don’t have something in moderation, I try to move on and start a new day; not a new week on Monday or a new month in 2 weeks, but a new day. 1 bad meal does not mean the flood gates should be open for the rest of the day to throw it all away. In fact, you can eat well all day even after a overindulgent brunch or whatever meal it is.
When I get a craving, I take a moment and ask 2 things- is this worth it and do I really want it? If yes, I go for it.
Control the setting/avoid temptations
As I write this, I just ate cereal. Cereal is not allowed in my house. Why? Because please introduce me to the person who eats 1 serving of cereal. NOT ME. It’s taking a lot to not eat the whole box right now.
I don’t keep things in the house that I a) will eat in 1 sitting without thinking 2) will be tempted to eat. So for me this means no cereal, no ice cream, no potato chips.
Since I do crave sweets, I keep fruit in the house and some dark chocolate. Again, if I really want ice cream, I will go get it
Eating out and being social is what a lot of people blame for their inability to stick to their nutrition. It is not easy, but you can control it yourself. For me, when my friends and I eat out, I try to always go somewhere I know I can get something that works for me. If it is a special night out and someone really wants to go out for say, Italian, I will plan around it and make the best choices possible.
If I am going to a party, I try to bring something I am ok eating such as veggies and hummus. If I am having people over, I shop with them in mind, but mostly what am I ok having left over. I am happy to make things my friends will like or have them bring it, but I will either have them bring it home with them or throw it out. I hate to waste, but I also hate to eat it just because.
Protein, everywhere, all the time
I used to love a sandwich with all veggies, some cheese and mayo. I still love it. But it does nothing for me except make me feel full for 20 minutes. Then I am hungry again. So now, I try to eat a protein with everything I eat. This keeps me fuller longer, and means I won't over eat.
Be ok sticking to your plan because it is important!
I am ok being the person who asks for veggies instead of fries, asks for no bun on my burger, and drinks seltzer instead of alcohol when I am out with friends. My friends may give me some shit about it, but no one really cares. I am unaware of them not inviting me somewhere because I don’t drink or eat the way they do. In fact, my friends will say things like we were going to get Chinese food, but know you prefer Thai food, so we will all get that. They also know they can say we are getting Chinese food and I will happily bring my own takeout if I don't want to eat it. They know it is important to me to stay on track and makes me happy. If your friends and family, who should be your main source of support, are making your goal harder to attain, then decide what is more important; you or them.
Belo are some photos of my week. This was not an awesome week because of the holiday, but the point is to be honest so here is some of what I ate in the past week.
If you want any recipes or have any questions about my food, leave a comment or shoot me an email. Happy eating :)