BlogHer, Fitness

Fuel Your Body By Eating Clean

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

Is it possible to talk about fitness without mentioning food? There aren’t many fitness- or sports-related bloggers who neglect to mention what they use to fuel their bodies. I like reading about what other people eat because it gives me new ideas (or at the very least, it reminds me I need more variety in my diet).

My go-to phrase is that I can cook — my dinners and baked desserts have always turned out good so far — but if I’m only feeding myself, more often than not I’m not going to make the effort. Especially now that I’m using my after-work hours to take belly dancing classes, or yoga, or run a few miles around my neighborhood…I feel like it’s more productive for me to have that bit of activity rather than spending time in the kitchen.

I definitely eat differently now than I used to years ago, but I’ve found when you become accustomed to eating foods that are good for you a majority of the time, you don’t crave the other stuff as much. Cake, cookies, ice cream? I don’t buy it. Just like when people stop drinking soda, and then months later they try it again and complain it tastes too overly-sweet? It’s the same concept.

Certain people I work with think I’m strange because I never partake in the occasional ice cream parties we have. Another example? My new male office-mate bought me a cookie last week, and when he put it on my desk I smiled and said, “No, thanks.” (He’s a very quick learner. On Friday he bought me a banana instead.)

I’m the same way with fried foods. Co-workers don’t bother asking if I want their extra French fries or onion rings because they know I’ll decline. (If you stop eating fried foods and try them again after a long hiatus? The grease will coat your mouth and leave an aftertaste for hours. It’s unpleasant.)

I take my own food to work every day, and I could probably count on one hand the times I’ve gone out for lunch in the nine months I’ve been at my current job. I carry a large purse around so I can fit all my various containers: breakfast, lunch, snacks.

So what kinds of food do I eat?

Since my roommate and I rarely cook, most of my kitchen staples are quick to grab and/or easy to prepare: fruit, like apples and bananas. Low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks. Kashi Go Lean and Grape Nuts cereal. Old-fashioned oatmeal (not the kind sold in individual packets). Unsweetened applesauce. Chicken, turkey, and faux-meat sliced lunchmeat. Turkey burgers. Boca burgers. Frozen vegetables, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

And, of course, soup. (I like this brand I find in the freezer section that comes in individually-wrapped plastic servings. It seems fresher and has less sodium than the kind sold in the can.) I also drink protein shakes after I do a weight workout (and usually before I go running, too — especially if I’ve just gotten home from work and I’m hungry, but don’t want a lot of food in my stomach).

An advantage to being a single gal (living with a female vegan roommate) is that it’s very easy to keep junk-food out of the house and focus on foods with less artificial ingredients. I tend to indulge in higher-calorie foods when I go out to eat at a restaurant or if I’m spending a weekend at my mom’s house.

Some people like to eat three meals and a snack. I eat mini-meals. This works for me, especially since I have a desk job (eating something every hour or two breaks up what I’m doing). Especially during the week, it’s normal for me to eat up to 7-8 times a day — but keep in mind, those eating-instances are usually 200-300 calories each. My normal calorie consumption usually falls between 1700-2000 per day.

The thing is, healthy eating has become automatic for me, and that’s the key. I’m eating the way I want to eat, so I don’t feel deprived. And the best part? If the majority of the foods you eat are good for you, you won’t ever have to worry about dieting.

What are your favorite healthy foods? Do you think you “eat clean” most of the time, or do your eating habits need work?

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