Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What I Eat

I've been meaning to write about my diet for some time now. I think it's a very important part of my training and lifestyle. With thousands of different diets out there with their sponsors, books, commercials, claims, websites and general media nonsense it's hard to focus on what's right for you. I have no idea what's right for you. I'm still trying to figure out what's right for me. I have developed over the past couple of years a pretty balanced diet that's been easy to follow. I have no real strict regimen, and I make changes to it as I see fit. The most influential book I've read that has shaped my attitude towards nutrition is Brendan Brazier's 'The Thrive Diet'. Brazier is a vegan triathlete who eats a mostly raw diet. I found out about Brazier through reading about my favorite UFC fighter Mac Danzig. Mac is also a vegan athlete, he puts to rest the stereotype that vegans are scrawny! (Not to mention he is the most intelligent and articulate UFC fighter!)

Speaking of scrawny... Self-indulgent gun show warning.
Proof you can be strong and not eat meat.

Although my diet isn't vegan, I find their diets to be a thoughtful, well-balanced approach. (A general overview of Mac Danzig's diet can be found here. Scroll down a ways to "6. UFC Fighter Mac Danzig's Vegan Diet". Sorry there's no better way to link to it.) Technically I am not a vegetarian. I'm an ovo-lacto-pescatarian. That's too much to say most of the time so I stick to "vegetarian". I eat eggs sometimes, but after a trip to Vietnam and reading 'Vegan with a Vengeance', I don't care for them as much as I used to. More often, I end up eating products that contain eggs.

I drink milk rarely, again I usually eat products that contain milk. I need yogurt and cottage cheese in my diet because of the live cultures they contain. I've found live cultures help my stomach issues, as well as my allergies and immune system. There are dairy alternatives with live cultures in them, but I find most soy products to be heavily processed. I feel it's a lot more natural to just stick to the real thing. I try to avoid cheese most of the time, and sometimes go weeks without eating it. Fish is another rarity in my diet. Because my motivation for going vegetarian was health, I see fish as a very healthy food option. Yes, there are issues with fish and mercury, but for the most part fish is a very good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

A majority of my diet is plant based. Here's a sample of what I eat on a typical day:

Breakfast: Smoothie made with Unsweetened Soy Milk, Banana, Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Natural Whey Protein Chocolate, Chocolate Brown Rice Protein
Post-Workout: Fluid Recovery Drink
Mid-Morning: Oatmeal/ Post-Workout Chocolate Whey Protein mixed with water
Lunch: Brown Rice with Frozen Vegetables and Black Beans with seasoning
Mid-Afternoon: 2 Whole Wheat Fig Newtons or Chobani Yogurt with Fruit
Dinner: Salad of mixed baby greens with craisins, walnuts, apple and a little bit of dressing. Almond Butter and Jelly on an Arnold Whole Wheat Sandwich Thin

Basically I choose simple, nutritious foods. I find foods I like and stick with them. I'm definitely not a perfect eater by any means. My work barrages me with a constant onslaught of poor food options. People will randomly make cookies and brownies or buy Munchkins. I have a sugar addiction and it's so hard to say no! Once I eat a confectionery treat my body goes haywire. It wants more! I can't just eat a little piece and be satisfied. I sit there and think about eating more until I eventually do. They say sugar sends off dopamine, and thus it's like a drug. Also, vigorous studies and research on my own part show that sugar is also freaking DELICIOUS. Fortunately/unfortunately my stomach issues have made another excuse for me to pass on treats.

Some sources of monthly inspiration for me are Shape and Fitness Magazine. Growing up in rural Massachusetts, with limited female friends and with no clue about makeup or how girls be girly, I decided to get with the program and subscribe to YM and Teen Magazine. In general I hate those magazines, but the actual beauty and fashion advice were extremely helpful. I had no clue how to do my makeup or even what concealer was until I got those magazines. Same thing with fitness, I started out not having a clue. Shape and Fitness give me exercise and diet ideas that help get me out of ruts. Every now and then when I'm in an especially bored food rut I'll buy Vegetarian Times.

Here are some other sites I've found helpful:
World's Healthiest Foods - Lists every beneficial whole food, and then breaks them down into extensive articles. They include the food's benefits, history and preparation tips. Great way to find out about new foods and how the heck you use them.

Active.com - Nutrition - Basically Active.com is like the Associated Press of fitness and nutrition articles. Their articles can usually be found in various magazines like Prevention and Women's Health.

I also check out magazine sites online. Shape, Fitness, Women's Health and many more have a lot of stuff up on their sites. Check them out!