Eating Smart: Food That Works for Me
Many fellow paddlers have asked me what I eat to stay fueled AND stay in shape, so I thought I would share some of my own strategies with you here. This is what works for me. I will write another blog soon about general nutrition.
One of my first (and probably most important!) rules is to avoid eating food your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize. What do I mean by this? Well, real food like broccoli, apples, chicken, oats, etc. would all be recognizable by someone who was born in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Something like a Twinkie or a PopTart would completely confuse your great-grandmother. So, when you are considering what to eat, keep this in mind. There are some obvious exceptions, namely protein bars and powders.
What do I eat on a typical day? Good question!
Breakfast #1: In the morning, about a half hour before heading out for Crossfit, I eat a Power Crunch bar (I am a big fan of the chocolate ones!) and have a cup of green tea (I love my green tea!). This gives me enough fuel to make it through the class but doesn’t fill my belly so much that I feel lethargic or sick.
Breakfast #2: Immediately after Crossfit I drink a protein shake. I use Muscle Milk protein powder. Then, once I am home, I make myself 3-4 scrambled eggs and a bowl of homemade muesli with Kefir yogurt. My muesli is awesome! I’ve included the recipe below.
Breakfast #3: OK, so this is more like a snack when it’s not quite lunch time yet and definitely past breakfast. I eat some kind of a protein bar like a Clif bar, another Power Crunch bar, or even a Kind bar (or two).
Lunch: My lunches depend on where I am and what I am doing that day. If I am at home (or have been able to pre-make my lunch to take it to work with me) I will eat a salad with just about anything I can find in it. I am kind of famous for my crazy salads. I start with a giant bowl and throw in spinach, kale, basically any dark greens I have on hand. Then I throw in chopped celery, carrots, red bell pepper, beets, broccoli, avocado (basically any kind of veggie I can get my hands on), sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and sliced apples. I top that with half of a can of tuna (in water!) for protein and then add olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I love the variety of tastes going on in my salad!
If I am not at home and have to eat out for lunch, I try to remember my great-grandmother. I eat Chipotle burritos quite a LOT…black beans, brown rice, chicken, a little cheese, tomatoes, onions, avocado, all on a whole wheat tortilla. It’s full of natural ingredients if you choose wisely. It’s really all about choices, no matter where you are you should be able to find some basic foods to fuel you.
Mid-day Snack: I’m typically hungry between lunch and dinner, so I usually grab another bar or eat a bunch of almonds. Lately I’ve been eating a lot of clementines as well.
Dinner: Dinner isn’t always easy to eat at a normal time. Paddling practice is at 6pm on the weekdays, so dinner gets pushed back until I get home at around 8:30 or 9:00. Not ideal, but I’ve got to eat! My favorite dinners are grilled chicken, quinoa or brown rice, and lightly steamed broccoli, butternut squash and/or beets. I grill the chicken on my Hamilton Beach grill press, I cook my rice or quinoa in my rice cooker, and quickly steam my veggies on the stove. I try to make enough food to give me two or three dinners (I don’t mind eating the same thing two or three times in a row). Basically I try to grill some type of protein like chicken or fish (I’m not really into red meat or pork, though I do eat it once in a rare while). I add a good grain to the meal and finish it off with some great veggies. I LOVE my food naked. Yes, naked. I don’t put sauces or even many spices on it. I like the taste of the food itself, AND it keeps it healthy! I’ve also been known to eat my lunch salad again for dinner.
Dessert? I have an awful sweet tooth, but I really try not to give in to it. For me, sugar depletes my energy and doesn’t allow me to be my best while training the following day, so I stay away from it as much as possible. When I do give in to a craving, I feel every ounce of it the next day. I’m tired, lethargic, and achy. It’s just not worth it.
So, now you have an idea of what I eat on a typical day and, more importantly, how I choose my foods. I keep my great-grandmother in mind, I make sure to have protein, good carbs, and veggies as much as possible and when I eat right, I feel great and have wonderful strength to train properly.
My Awesome Muesli Recipe:
8-10 cups raw old fashioned oats
1 cup hemp seeds
1 cup chia seeds
1 cup flax seeds
1-2 cups almond slivers
1-2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1-2 cups raisins/dried cranberries/dates/dried cherries/dried apricots (choose what you like best or mix and match fruits)
I don’t really measure everything carefully, I just kind of throw things into a clear large container and toss it all around to mix it up. You can try adding different nuts like pecans, walnuts, etc. and/or different dried fruits. You can even top it with fresh fruit.