Over the past 2 weeks I've realized that I have a completely different relationship with food when I am running.
When I'm injured, I basically feel as if anything I put in my mouth is me being a fat pig and giving in. The idea that you need calories to survive has been completely wiped from my brain. Everything that goes in makes me feel fat and slow. The first two days home from the hospital I basically survived on toast. Then I tried to get back to my regular eating habits, but with a few extra doses of potato chips. Ugh. I felt guilty about almost everything I was eating, and had to try really hard not to weigh myself every 5 minutes.
But when I'm running, it's a totally different story. First of all, I don't feel guilty for eating. Even that slice of BBQ chicken pizza is okay, because a) I ran 5 miles and b) I am eating a much more balanced diet. And that's the other side of it - when I'm exercising, I want to eat more healthy food. I'm a lot more careful about what goes in, because I want to have energy to run.
Now, I know my eating habits aren't perfect. I still eat way too much bread and cheese and not enough protein and veggies. But the more active I am, the more I'm trying to change what I eat.
I've made gradual changes to my diet over the past 5 years. I used to skip breakfast, or have a diet coke and a donut. I would be cranky and starving by lunchtime, and then generally overeat for the rest of the day. Now, I eat breakfast every day. I have soy milk and cheerios, or wheat toast with peanut butter, and usually a banana.
I also gave up caffeine about 2.5 years ago. Giving it up was rough. I've never liked coffee, but I was drinking a lot of diet coke every day. When I first gave it up, I would get a massive headache around 1pm (just when I would usually have my lunch-time diet coke) and then get really tired for the rest of the afternoon. I didn't realize how dependent I was on it until I stopped drinking it. It took about two months to become un-addicted, but I think I sleep better, and I think my moods are generally better. I still drink it occasionally - I'll have half of a tall mocha if I'm driving and it's late and I'm tired, or if I have to get up extra early for a race. An interesting thing is that I'm now really sensitive to it - if I drink iced tea with caffeine in it by accident, my heart starts pounding like crazy and I'm really wired.
I've added healthy snacks into my diet. Potato chips still sneak in, but not nearly as much as 2-3 years ago. I could sit down with a book and wipe out a family size bag of chips. I've been much better about eating granola bars, and lately I've been trying to have nuts and pretzels as a snack. Ice cream also climbs in my mouth every so often, but the portions are definitely smaller and it's much less often.
I think I drink a lot less. This hasn't really been a conscious effort, it's just kind of happened. A year ago, I gave up drinking for Lent-slash-the 4-5 weeks preceding Shamrock, but when I got hurt, that went out the window. 2009 was really rough for a lot of reasons, and I think last spring was when I hit bottom. I was probably drinking at least 5-6 days a week - that's a lot, to me. But this fall/winter, I drank less and less, and while I am definitely still a social drinker, and definitely still have those oh-my-head-hurts mornings, it's much less often than it was a year ago. For many reasons, this is a good thing (text message bill is smaller, less run-ins with the police, etc).
Finding healthy quick ways to eat lunch is my current challenge. I like Lean Pockets, but one leaves me hungry again in an hour. It's so easy to just pop a frozen pizza in the oven while I'm working, but I need to do better than that. Some days I don't eat lunch at all, I just have a Luna Bar, and then I'm crabby at 5pm and overeat at dinner.
Any suggestions? What can I make for lunch that is a) tasty, b) quick, and c) not grilled cheese/baked potato/a frozen meal?