Sunday, January 29, 2012

Healthy Nutrition Guidelines

Last night I woke up around 2am due to symptoms of the cold that's been pestering me this week.  Typically, I read or watch documentaries to get back to sleep, and last night I watched (part) of a documentary, "Ingredients", to lull me back to la la land.  While the film was primarily about the benefits of eating locally grown foods, it also summarized some points I've collected from other, similar documentaries and nutrition/endurance athlete books about the value of a diet based on whole foods.

I think an 80/20, or even 90/10, rule of following simple guidelines to health eating makes sense for me and for the average, imperfect, human.  I mean, come on, there are days when a hamburger is just necessary.  And when chips and salsa are imperative.  And there are days (often, during sporting events) when of course we're going to have more than two drinks.  The goal is to make sure that most of the stuff we put in our bodies is good for us.  So, below are some basic guidelines that I have started following and want to make a concerted effort to follow in greater depth in life moving forward.  And, perhaps more importantly, these are guidelines that I want to instill in my boys to ensure they feed their bodies with healthy foods throughout their lives.

My general guidelines:

  • No high fructose corn syrup
  • Fresh, not packaged
  • Load up on fruits and veggies
  • Eat locally grown, not mass farmed/shipped/chemically-preserved produce
  • Shop at local farmer's markets
  • Whole grains, not bleached flour products
  • Lean proteins
  • Legumes/beans, including soy
  • Water, water, water
  • Eat bulk of calories early in day (breakfast/lunch), not dinner (also helps with sleep)
  • Take the time to make homemade meals, not packaged
  • Find healthy alternatives for sweet fixes -- fruit smoothie, homemade (healthy) baked goods, healthy (no sugar, no additives) frozen yogurt
  • Dark chocolate is understandably medicinal and should be consumed in small quantities
  • Pack healthy snacks every time you leave the house (fruit, organic nutrition bars)
  • Teach kids to embrace the same healthy guidelines, and why it's important
  • If you're going to indulge, do it in moderation: one piece of pizza, half a hamburger, small serving of ice cream, etc.
  • Eat meals at the table and savor, not inhale, food
  • Have a list of go-to healthy recipes for all meals of the day. Experiment until you find what works for you.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation: 1-2 drinks, 1-2 times per week

In addition to these guidelines, below are some thoughts regarding healthy habits as a means of supporting desired running/triathlon performance.

From the athlete's perspective:

  • Food is fuel. Peak performance requires top-notch fuel.
  • Make sure to consume more calories earlier in the day, not in the evening
  • Feed the body with healthy fuel before and after workouts. Before: easily-processed carbs (bananas); after, balanced protein/carb
  • Get carbs from produce and whole grains, not sugar

So, again, my goal is somewhere between 80/20 and 90/10. I'm human and have off days, and I plan to enjoy life.


Below is a list of some of the resources that have influenced my goal of eating a whole foods diet:

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