Wednesday, June 16, 2010

May I pick your to speak

"Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first."
Josh Billings

"If we're not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food."
Sally Edwards

Butternut squash soup

Today, I'd really like to pick your brains about nutrition. Almost all of you, at some point, have written about what you eat, or what you don't eat, or what your favorite fuel is before a run...basically, about food. I've pretty much avoided food talk, because I'm a crappy cook and I'm a lazy I tend to eat the same things over and over again. I'm so bored with my food...and I've got some great cookbooks, so it's not the material that's missing. In this case, it's been the motivation. Then there's making sure I'm eating enough in quantity and in quality to take me through my upcoming marathon training (which, starts this Sunday). I've been thinking about meeting with a sports nutritionist, but first, I want to know what you all think.

Do you see a nutritionist to help you plan your training diet?

Have you ever seen a nutritionist?

Is it worth the time and expense?

What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten, and used, regarding nutrition?

Do you know any great blogs that talk about proper nutrition while training?

What's your trick for managing to make new recipes and making sure you have variety in your diet?

The thing is, it's not that I eat lots of junk food or that my diet is not healthy. But, it's definitely not varied enough and I doubt I'm getting enough vegetables...mostly because I get sick of eating the same things. I need help...and I need to find the motivation to get cooking...literally!

Any advice will be much appreciated...there's really always something to work on isn't there :)


Marlene said...

I don't really believe it's worthwhile to see a nutritionist. Stick to the basics - lean proteins, complex carbs and PLENTY of fresh fruits & veggies. Remember, everything in moderation and VARIETY is essential.

I try ti make sure every meal is COLOURFUL ... that's how I know I'm getting my nutrients! Do you have a local farmer's market? Explore local produce options. You will definitely leave with new veggies to try!

I'm a big fan of Michael Pollan and his books:

Hi! I'm Erin said...

There are a million and one food bloggers out there. I read a few for inspiration and for exposure to foods I wouldn't normally think to even look for in the store. Example: Brussels sprouts. I had no idea I liked them until I saw the different ways they could be prepared.

I've never seen a nutritionist but I do have a book about nutrition for runners that I should probably read a little more carefully now that I'm beginning marathon training, too. My mom did see a nutritionist when she wanted to lose weight and said it was really helpful.

I think the best advice I've ever read about nutrition and running is that normally a person can't be on a diet and marathon training at the same time. They are incompatible. Most runners need to eat more, not less.

Emz said...

I've only been to see a nutritionist once [out of concern my dr had about my running/eating/weight] and it has helped me out a great deal. I think I personally just needed something just for me and my food needs. We all know what is good for us and not as good for us but she really nailed it for me. My game plan. How food can help me.

The easy things I remember are color. Eat a variety of colors. bell pepper, spinach, squash, blueberries, etc. And to try and NOT eat anything covered in paper or plastic [convenience foods].

Kelly said...

My husband went to see a nutritionist and it worked wonders for him. I think it somewhat depends how much research you want to do... if you are willing to pay attention to the food pyramid, consult books etc. on nutrition for runners, then you probably don't need a nutritionist. If you'd rather skip that, they'll have all the info condensed down for your specific needs. Sounds pretty good actually!

Best piece of advice... I have no idea where it came from but somewhere I read / heard the line "food is fuel". Every time you make a choice about what you eat, think first of what your body needs to perform well.

Whenever I get bored of what I'm cooking I try to make an effort to try one new recipe a week. I search for one to try, and include the ingredients on my weekly shopping list.

Good luck!

Teamarcia said...

I have never seen a nutritionist. I get lots of my fueling guidelines from the newsletters I receive from Hammer Nutrition. Lots of it is trial and error during training though.
I try to stick to a whole foods diet--meaning that other than my Greek yogurt, Flax cereal, and um yes Ritz crackers, nothing is processed. When I think I've had enough veggies, I find a way to work even more in.
I make a variety of soups/stocks chili and freeze it. I experiment with grains ie: quinoa, cous cous, barley, bulgur, etc.
The best eating tip that I swear by is including protein in every meal/snack.
Ok I'm getting hungry.
Hope this helps!

Melissa said...

I have never visted a nutritionist, but I kind of want to do that.
I can't wait to see what suggestions that you get.

Rad Runner said...

I listen to my body.. and I LOVE Whole Foods and :) Blunt but all true

Julie said...

Hi Anne,
You have so many great questions! I can just see your mind spinning:) When I signed up for my marathon I decided I am going to wing it! Running on a wing and a prayer:) I am going to eat healthy, drink lots of water, get plenty of rest and try like hell to stay injury free! I hope that you are able to find good advice and get answers to your questions! Take care Lady!

Anonymous said...

Since I'm a veggie I'm careful of what I do and do not eat before a long run, and especially When! However, since I've been cycling longer distances nutrition has come to the forefront yet again, meaning I'm not eating properly for the cycling and running distances.

I follow TriMarni,

plus I find it is a continual learning experience...

experiment during your training runs not on race day and find what works for takes a long time but when you find it, stick with it!

Laurel aka Lily

Miglena said...

i agree with one of the comments above - depends on how much work you want to do. If you want the short cut then see a nutritionist. The book I have you (the Thrive Diet) is so far my favourite in terms of explaining the science behind eating to fuel your body for endurance training. One point that many runners often ignore is that aside from proving energy, specific nutrients can speed up the recovery process ... and the opposite - lack of some essential amino acids, vitamins, and/or minerals can actually hinder it... so knowing what kind of nutrients you need pre- and post-workout and where to get them from becomes key for staying healthy during training... oh, and I think you tend to under eat (calories wise) so it would be good to know how much more calories you should be adding now to make up for the energy spend in training... and then make sure these calories count (i.e., no chocolate cake :) )

momof3 said...

I try to make 1 new vegetarian dish each week. That way we get a new food experience, and at least 2 of our meals each week are veggie loaded. Emphasis on the word "try" in there. It's a challenge. But that soup looks exactly like something I would LOVE!

Meg said...

My running coach has been helping me with nutrition and I think that what ever you choose to do, whom ever you choose to work with, that person needs to know a lot about distance and endurance running. Sometimes the gels and liquid fueling that we use for running are helpful with a balanced diet and people who don't work with runners don't always know about this side of nutrition. Good luck, this is so important to keep us moving forward!

Alma said...

I've seen a sports nutritionist/exercise physiologist and she was fantastic. I went in thinking I might not get any new information because I'd done a lot of reading, had some entry-level nutrition coursework in college, etc. Well, I was very surprised to find that I was not getting enough protein and fat in my diet for my level of exercise!! She gave me really great tips about how to easily track the categories of foods I was getting & calories. I had a great experience but I think it depends on who you see? You definitely need someone familiar with endurance training. It wasn't cheap ~$125/hr USD but I think some types of insurance will cover nutrition counseling so maybe you can get a better deal?

As for motivation - I started getting a box of organic produce delivered every other week from a local farm. It comes with random stuff each week and even though I could modify the contents, I generally don't because it forces me to cook things that I wouldn't normally eat. Easy way to have variety forced upon you, especially if you eat it so you don't feel guilty about it going to waste.

Another way to spice things up is to eat with friends (eat at their house!). Sometimes going to someone else's house and having their food gets me inspired because they do things differently.

With summer coming and all the fresh veggies & fruits getting ripe, it is a great time to get some fresh food/whole food recipes. I have to say - post-long run, I've always liked eating a pasta dish that sounds funny but is easy to fix & quite tasty & good carbo-reloader:

pasta + fresh kale + chick peas or big white beans + feta cheese + herbs, olive oil, etc. for flavor. Simple but good & portable.

Laura said...

I love the quotes at the top! I've never seen a nutritionist, sometimes I'd love to just to make sure I'm doing it right but I think I get by ok! I try and eat 80/20, 80% good 20% what I fancy! I try to eat almost all wholegrains, stuff which hasn't been refined, minimal sugar if I make something sweet I use xylitol instead, I use applesauce instead of fat when I make my own baked goods but if I buy a treat I don't worry too much about what's in it cause it's a treat it's not something I'm going to eat a lot of.

I try and keep a relaxed attitude to food and not get too worried about it cause that's what works for me, I don't count calories cause that doesn't work for me but it's a good measurement for other people...

Hope my ramble is somehow helpful! :-)

Johann said...

I’m probably the worst person to comment on these questions, but here’s my input. I find when I up the distance in training I really eat a lot more and still lose weight. I definitely agree, don’t train for a marathon and go on a diet. Just eat healthy, but listen to your body. If you find you start having cravings for something, have it! Your body is trying to tell you there’s something you need. I find I need some sugar and fats at times when I really train hard. This might be in a form or some food type that many won’t eat (chocolate, bacon, cake with cream and so on), but I don’t care about those things when I’m putting in the distance. I just keep my body happy.

Jennifer said...

I love to cook so that helps a lot. It would be hard for me to comment as I am always experimenting with new things, maybe it's the artist in me, always creative. But we all get bored, nothing wrong in that and I am not sure there is anything wrong in eating the same thing. I often cook a large pot of 'whatever it might be' and eat that for a week, especially if I am busy and don't want to fall into the fast food trap.

Suzy said...

Wow, lots of questions. I love cooking so I just try to keep what I make lower on the fat content. I have a core group of recipes that I fall back on and we usually try 1 -2 new recipes a week (more so during the winter). I've never been to a nutritionalist, but probably should because I know I don't get all the nutrients I need with my diet. When you train, keep eating healthy and listen to your body!

Iris said...

Good questions. I got on the green smoothie bandwagon a long time ago. Plus, try to eat another fruit and veggie with each meal/snack. My biggest problem is getting enough protein. I eat meat, but am picky about what kinds.

Robyn said...

I saw a nutritionist and wasn't a fan. I also think I just didn't like the person I had. You should check to see if your insurance covers one though if you're interested in checking it out.

Sarah said...

I try and eat a lot of fresh, non-proessed food. Although...I LOVE chocolate and eat some every day, so I am probably not one to give nutrition advice. :)

Amy said...

Good questions! Good nutrition is so important for good running. I find a lot of good advice in Runner's World magazine and on their website. I also would recommend a couple of books for inspiration: Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman's most recent books on what constitutes a healthy and sustainable diet - the Mark Bittman one (Food Matters) includes some good and simple recipes. I think nutrition is very personal and we all have to do a little searching to figure out what works best for us. Good luck!

Kovas said...

Anne, I would definitely see a nutritionist or a doctor. When you cut out certain things or add others, they can affect your body in ways you didn't realize. Case in point: Vitamin D is being written about quite a bit, but it's not always mentioned that it's fat soluble, which your body will store rather than flush out like Vitamin C, etc. Certain supplements (like the red rice yeast I take to lower my cholesterol) block production of other hormones and can affect liver functions. Our body is a system, and trying to fix one part without considering its effect on other parts can be dangerous.

MomRunningFromCancer said...

I have never been to a nutritionist - but it might be nice to ask for assistance during your marathon training. I generally let my body tell me what to do. Hungry = eat ;-)

I have really - really been trying to eat more vegies. I almost always eat a mostly vegie meal at lunch and enjoy a huge side helping of vegie's at dinner. My lunch is something I call vegie delight. I usually roast broccoli and asparagus (drizzle with olive oil and bake in 350 oven for 10 - 20 minutes - depending on how crisp you like the asp and broc) then throw in shredded carrots, chopped green or red or orange pepper, some grape tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas and maybe some chicken. Toss in some balsamic vinigar and I am set. DELISH. said...

I think good nutrition can change your life and your running. This is a topic I need help with too. I should probably throw away the premade raw cookie dough that finds its way to my freezer. Yuck. You are a daredevil, by the way (read your comment at ShutUpandRun!)

kat said...


I am not going to comment on nutrition as I am yet to find what works for me, accept that every day I try hard to make the best choices possible.

What I will say is how fabulous you look, and what an inspiration you are look forward to gettting to know you through your blog, and I hope you take it as a compliment when I say I want to be like you when I'm more grown up than I am now.

Southbaygirl said...

Hi! I just found your blog and wanted to say hello!!! I run as well and have asthma-fun times isnt it?? Nice to meet you!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne!
I'm an Alaska runner, also with asthma, and I also HATE to cook. I eat well though. This is because I don't cook much. I practically live on wraps and burritos--oh the things you can stuff inside a whole grain tort shell! I eat tons of veggies. I chop everything up and put them in Tupperware containers and eat a few handfuls every meal. The only thing I usually cook are large pots of veggie and tofu soup (I'm a vegetarian)--so good. I rarely eat processed foods. I make everything myself--I just don't cook. I do bake, however.
Hope this helps.

Black Knight said...

I am sorry but I have never seen a nutritionist. However I think I have a well balanced diet.... coca cola apart.

Giorgio said...

I've never met a nutritionist but I know a very simple rule: carbohydrates before training or race and proteins after training or race.
Today your first week of marathon training starts!

Anne said...

My daughter at UC Davis had the Runner's World nutritionist for an instructor this past year and learned a great deal about what and how much to eat for fuel. Giorgio is right, eat "complex carbs" before a race to have enough energy on the run and then immediately followup with protein if it's a short distance. For marathons, you gotta soak up carbs to bring your blood glucose levels back up.