For those of you who have been reading the blog for at least the last year, you will be aware that I have made significant changes to the way I eat. I have tried not to bang on too much about what I have done on the blog, but I have received many emails and questions in the comments section of posts about the changes, I thought I would share my journey. Today’s post outlines the steps I have taken so far to change to a more whole food, clean approach to my diet. At the end of this post you will see I am still seeking advice and information. I have the lovely Katie Rainbird from Katie 180 undertake an analysis of my food intake for one day. Together we also offer the same opportunity to you. In the form at the end of the post, you can submit what you have eaten for a day and Katie will help you find ways to change what is on your plate to improve your diet.
Changing the way I eat
There have been many separate changes I have made to my diet along the way, so it is best represented by a timeline table. I go back a little way to give some perspective of where I came from:
|Aug-12||I was training for my first marathon and fractured my pelvis. I was unable to run for almost four months.||Best described as high carb/low fat. I have never been a huge fruit and veg eater. Fruit and veg I predominately ate regularly would have consisted of apples, oranges, carrots, peas, potatoes, capsicum, pumpkin and tomatoes.|
|Dec-12||Bored of my traditional gym and encourage by my friend Bron, I tried out CrossFit and loved it.||As above. Lunch would consist of two peanut butter and cheese sandwiches toasted. Plus I would drink at least four cans of diet coke a day. I would have chocolate pretty much every day, a small amount like a Snickers from one of those fun packs.|
|Mar-13||I undertake the Cruskits challenge as part of a sponsored post campaign for the blog.||Out go the peanut butter and cheese toasted sandwiches. For a week I try all sorts of combos on Cruskits which you can see here .|
|Apr-13||Post Cruskits challenge||This is the first time for years where I have not regularly had a bread based lunch and feel better for having less bread in my diet, so decide to stick with no bread for lunch. I mix it up with wraps and crackers and cheese etc.|
|Mid Apr-13||The talk of a Paleo Zone Challenge at the CrossFit gym starts.||I decide that there is no time like the present and decide to ditch wheat, dairy, refined sugars and all processed foods. With one very large exception - I still keep drinking diet coke!
My diet would now seem in comparison to how I was eating high fat and low carb. Baby spinach, broccoli, cauliflower are now regulars on my plate.
For the first week I felt truly awful. My runs felt sluggish and I felt almost like I was having hot sweats. I remember thinking I was glad to feel so awful. It was all the rubbish making its way out my system and it in a bizarre way encouraged me to stick with it. After about two weeks I felt fantastic.
Lunches now consist of meat and salad or meat and veg predominately from left overs of my evening meals.
The most notable changes for me were less bloating after meals and also less lethargy after meals. I also went from very irregular and infrequent bowel movements to regular (TMI I know!).
|Mid May-13||In a meeting with Darren Rowse I discuss how very soon I will have to give up diet coke to undertake a challenge at my gym. I lament how I dread the caffeine withdrawal headaches. His advice was to have some small source of caffeine so withdrawal won't be so bad.||I start drinking tea (along with diet coke). Green tea mainly, with the occasional black tea and a few herbal teas.
I was actually now mentally ready to give up diet coke. Eating well but still pouring a bunch of chemicals down my throat was sitting very uncomfortably for me.
|Mid June-13||Paleo Zone Challenge at the CrossFit gym starts. You can read more about the Zone diet here, but it focuses on having all macro nutrients represented at each meal and snack - carbs, protein and fats.||In the month of the challenge I think I ate more fruit and veg than I had for the previous 6 months!
The challenge was indeed a challenge. Having to weigh all your meals to make sure you were having the right amount of each macro nutrient certainly wasn't a sustainable model for me, but it taught me a tremendous amount about nutrition, listening to my body and working out that it is possible to fuel your body for long distance running with out white bread and pasta.
I also gave up diet coke and suffered none of the usual withdrawal symptoms I had suffered when I had previously given up drinking it.
|Mid July-13||I read Why we get fat and what to do about it by Gary Taubes.||Coming off the Paleo Zone challenge, I decided to stick with eating whole foods and give the very low carb approach by Gary Taubes a go.
I ate very little starchy veggies, mainly green veggies and salads with my proteins and fats.
I started eating avocados for the first time in my life and loved them. I also started eating eggs almost daily.
|Aug-13||I ramp up my training for my first marathon.||I tried for about three weeks to go very low carb while still training for a marathon. After three weeks I was tired, lacking in energy, slightly cranky and my performance started to suffer.
Going so low carb did not work for me. It didn't make me happy or feel like I could perform the way I wanted to in terms of my running or lifting.
So I started adding back more high starch veggies into my diet, sweet potato mainly and noticed an instant improvement.
|Sep-13||We take a family holiday to Japan||I decide to try eating what ever I liked from the buffet breakfast. I ate way too much of foods my body was no longer used to eating (pancakes, hash browns) and I felt awful for the next 24 hours or so.|
|Oct-13||Run my first marathon!||You can read about the marathon here, but in terms of training and race fuelling sweet potatoes and bananas were my best friends. I used GUs for the event which of course are full of all sorts of processed things! Hydration wise I stuck with water.|
|Dec-13||Christmas!||Decide to eat the big Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, causing myself significant stomach ache for the remainder of the day. Decide not to do that again!|
|Mar-14||I see the wonderful Lizzy from Primal Junction for advice on nutrition while training for a marathon.||I learn lots about fuelling for performance and the need to have decent amounts of carbs pre and post run.
I add white rice to my diet and rice and fried eggs becomes a favourite post recovery meal.
|Apr-14||Follow up visit with Lizzy||After a number of months being quite low carb it takes a bit to get my head around eating more carbs, but my results are proof that it is working. I achieve improvements in my lifting and running and feel overall that I have more energy.
Like Katie does below Lizzy encourages me to eat more carbs pre and post exercise and add more nourishing veggies into my diet (less raw more cooked) - this is my focus for the moment.
Changing my plate – my day
Katie Rainbird (AKA Katie180) is a Sydney-based Nutritionist who is just as likely to be found jogging as she is baking. She is a mother to two, a keen home cook, prefers to get around in her workout gear and has a major passion for the written word. You can learn more at www.katie180.com.au.
When I sent Katie a record of what I ate in a 24 hour period, I made sure I sent a day that wasn’t perfect. I do have days where my diet is spot on, but they are not the majority through out the week yet – I am hoping they soon will be! This is what Katie had to say about my day:
What is your current goal with your eating habits?
Eating for performance. Making sure I fuel well so I can achieve my fitness goals. Also adding greater variety to what I eat.
Home cooked. 1 cup basmati rice with two fried eggs. (Recovery meal after 1.5 hours of exercising)
Switch up grains: pearled barley or oats. Add leafy greens if savoury or fresh fruit if sweet.
Roast beef, sweet potato and rocket salad with balsamic and honey dressing. Made and eaten at home.
Add some sprouts as they are high protein, add some good carbohydrates such a piece of sourdough or more vegetables, cooked grains or a ¼ cup pasta.
6pm sweet chilli chicken lettuce wraps (chicken, capsicum, carrot in lettuce cup). All home made including the sweet chilli sauce.
Lentils, different kinds of beans, avocado, sprouts, seeds, mixed roast vegetables, fetta, haloumi, cottage cheese.
Mid morning smoothie – 3 large handfuls of kale, 1/2 cup almonds, 1 tbs chia seeds, vanilla protein powder (clean mix), 1 large frozen banana and water.
Afternoon tea – handful of macadamias, handful of almonds and a scoop of coconut flakes and goji berries
Not tonight, but would have dessert about twice a week.
- Vitamin D 1000IU x 1 daily (recommended by GP due to deficiency) The vitamin D is fine, increase to two capsules per day. But I really think you need a complete bone formula (with the other minerals plus vitamin K.)
- Magnesium 100mg x1 daily
- Omega 1000mg x 1 daily With your level of micro-inflammation that would occur due to all the exercise I’d take at least 2 – 3 per day. Try a Fresh Catch Oil you can add it to your smoothies. One teaspoon per day, and it’s a clean product.
Daily fluid intake
1.25l soda water, 2lts water, 250 mls coconut water, 3 green teas. (Was a very hard workout, super thirsty!)
1. Pre morning workout: do you eat anything? If not then start with something small, maybe you could take on of those handfuls of nuts from your afternoon snack and move them here. Breakfast literally translates to break-fast: breaking the overnight fast. To go out on an empty stomach and train for 1.5 hours is ill advised. You’re going to draw on stores of glucose for energy and risk putting yourself into a blood insulin dip/surge imbalance. (I have now been having a banana before longer runs in the morning.)
2. You’re eating at least two cups of nuts here, which is a lot of nuts (and nut fat, although it IS good fat!) but with your exercise regime you can probably rip through it rather than store it. If you weren’t so active I’d suggest reducing this quantity however. (Nuts are a weakness and I know I eat too many – shall work on changing this.)
3. Apart from the frozen banana and gogi berries, there is no fruit. Is there a reason for this? If not then we know that fruit affords vitamins and antioxidants, which are protective against infection and disease. You can comfortably introduce 1 – 2 additional pieces of fruit into your diet. Great post workout natural sugar hit! (Have never been a great fruit eater, so will have to consciously work on this.)
4. 1.25L of soda water is quite a lot of carbonated drink to be consuming in one day. I recommend halving this if it’s a regular habit. (It was a social thing – instead of drinking alcohol.)
5. WHERE are your carbohydrates Nicole? There’s 2 cups of rice, some sweet potato and a bit of carrot. Add oats to your smoothie, bake a clean eating muesli and seed slice and eat this for morning or afternoon tea, add more vegetables and legumes to your dinner, you are training and you need glucose from ready sources: carbohydrates. Protein and fats come into play after carbohydrates as fuel sources which is why they are successful when the focus of weight loss diets, but you’re not needing weight loss ~ you’re needing fuel. (Definitely need to up my carb/veggie intake on training days and will test out some new slice recipes.)
Thanks so much Katie for your time in writing up my feedback. Key focus for change for me is:
- Eat greater quantities and more varieties of veggies and fruit
- Reduce my nut intake
- Reassess my supplements