food is....fuel?

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?


  1. Just found your blog and wanted to say hi. I see that you are injured. Hope you have a quick recovery.

  2. Love Chik Patties (Morningstar Farm). They even smell like chicken patties when cooking. I defrost in the micro 40 seconds, then pop in toaster but you can microwave em only too.

    I am not a big salad fan, but find I do like all the elements. Always have one or more of the following on hand: baby carrots, sliced red peppers, snap peas, hard-boiled egg, lightly cooked broccoli, frozen edamame, any other parts of salad. Eat separately or together.

  3. Sushi. Healthy, quick, and yummy. Soy sauce is basically salt, so always have to watch it. And yes, it is rice, a white carb, but it isn't bad for you.

  4. I'm a big fan of sandwiches. Cold cuts, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle. Quick, easy, and not many dishes to clean up. Plus, if you put enough lettuce on, the sandwich is nice and big and crunchy.

    Works well as a wrap too if you want to cut the carbs. But I really like bread, so I don't make that a priority. :P

  5. Since I moved running to a night thing, I've found that I eat my roughage for breakfast and then have lots of tiny meals after it... so pretty regularly I've been confusing my coworkers by eating a gigantic salad at 8am.
    Then lots of hummus on whole wheat pita and handfuls of berries through the afternoon, with lentil soup or a bowl of chick peas or edamame for "lunch".

  6. Thanks for all the awesome suggestions, everyone! Next week is going to be new lunch food week now!!

  7. Hahah can you tell I'm reading through your old posts? Suggestions:
    1) I always carry an apple in my bag and a small container of peanut butter.
    2) Cheese sticks. Sounds silly, but it's a great small snack with a few unsalted almonds.
    3) Quinoa. Cook it up like rice. I make a biiiig batch and separate it into two. With one pot I'll add diced roasted veggies (sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, etc) and black beans and spices. The other pot I'll add cinnamon, raisins, cooked diced apples, etc. It saves well in the fridge and has a ton of protein!

  8. No, it's hilarious. My email is exploding! :)

    Funny - yesterday I had cheese and almonds as a snack. *looks around for hidden camera*

    And, I'm scared of quinoa, but I'm going to try it. Or at least learn how to pronounce it.


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