For years, any time running felt bad or I felt low-energy I looked straight to what and how I was eating. I learned early on the profound affect eating could have on performance. The problem with this was I couldn’t get the food “just right” to provide the energy I needed to train and race. I needed to eat so energy flowed like a steady stream instead of peaks and valleys.
|Sometimes post-run recovery food might just be that 2 day old powdered donut
It took me years to realize that if I just trusted my common sense and intuition around nutrition and let healthy eating flow like a steady stream I would achieve more and feel better than of I weighed, measured, and counted every bite. I had to trust what I knew and let go of self-doubt, judgement, and comparing myself to others.
I have been running races and fun runs since I was ten years old. I was competitive in high school until I hit an extremely rough patch in my ability to run fast while also adapting to the changing body of a teen. I started getting slower, losing races (the year before I had one every single race I ran). I was depressed and looking for answers. My coach and parents had now answers. With an interest even then in sports nutrition I looked to food for answers. Problem was I became obsessed. Food didn’t have the answers I needed to become a better runner. Food was a symptom of something greater effecting my ability. It was years before I realized this. A degree in nutrition, some bummer races, and two children later I can now eat in way that matches my ambition to be a healthy and athletic mother of two.
Most healthy active people I know will thrive when they accept these five truths and stop obsessing up the “right” way to eat:
1. Give yourself permission to eat. Don’t go hungry and skip meals.
2. Stop comparing what you eat to what others eat. They are not you and they do not know what your body needs
3. Accept the nutrition is never black and white. There is variation in eating and it doesn’t take perfection to eat healthy.
4. Accept that there is no magic bullet or quick fixes. Healthy eating and achieving a steady stream of energy is a slow and steady approach with lasting benefits to health and athletic performance
5. Stop paying attention to nutrition trends. You know what to eat and how to stay healthy (fruits, vegetables, grains!) These headlines will turn you off course.