I Run to Eat

I run to eat.
I am not one of those people that will ever forget to eat, or just eat to fill myself up. I enjoy eating, a lot.
The Runner Beans Marathoner + Fitness Junkie
My philosophy on healthy eating is to eat a lot of what’s good for you, and a little of what you love. It’s all about the 80/20 balance. If I know I’m having a big boozy dinner, I’ll try to ensure that breakfast, lunch and snacks lean towards the healthy side of the spectrum.
I know there’s been a lot of slamming recently of specific diets, and although I try to be open-minded towards different view points, I do understand some of the arguments against detoxes and diets where whole food groups are eliminated. Doing this for health reasons I completely accept, however I don’t think it’s all that sustainable to cut out aspects such as fruit or dairy altogether. Unless you’ve got a specific goal, like fitting in to a wedding dress, then I don’t think it should be about going on a ‘diet’, it should be a change in lifestyle and attitude towards food. Although I do understand why a lot of people feel they need to reset by going on a detox, I cannot stand the idea of crash dieting, and know that it’s not for me.  
I don’t do low fat, or low calorie, or low carb. I try to do low chemical ie. less processed foods the better (I’ve mentioned before that Tom and I are trying to eat more organic produce, particularly milk and meat). I try to do high nutrients, and diversity, and aim to eat between 7-10 servings of fruit and veg a day.
Ultimately, I strive for balance.
Where possible, I will opt to make healthy, more nutritious switches to my meals. If I can use cauliflower instead of couscous, then why not. If I can swap white pasta for brown, or even courgette spirals to make a more nutrient dense meal then I will. Additionally, when baking if you can sneak in a portion of fruit or veg, or cut butter out of brownies by using avocado, then I think that’s fab.
Gluten Free Avocado Brownies Recipe
Of all the diets I resonate most with, it’s probably Paleo, however I don’t understand the lack of grains and legumes within the diet so would never adhere to this (I haven’t done any reading around this, so would love to hear more from those in the know or book suggestions please!). I like cheese, I love yogurt and I live with a boy that likes to eat a lot of meat.
One area that I am trying to cut down on my intake is processed foods, and above all, refined sugar. I could do with limiting the sweet treats, however as with everything, I think they are fine in moderation. I know that sugar is a big topic at the moment, but cutting out all sugar, including fruit, I think is a little extreme, and again, unsustainable (for me, anyway!).
I think the sharing of food on Instagram, twitter and blogs can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s great for recipe and meal inspiration, but it can leave you feeling guilty that your lunch wasn’t as ‘healthy’ as someone else’s, or that you ate 3 large slices of birthday cake while no-one was looking (or had chocolate cake for lunch). People only share online what they want others to see. If you look at more personal forms of contact, like Whatsapp, you’ll see that even ‘healthy living bloggers’ sometimes tuck in to a portion of McDonald’s fries (naming no names!).
Bacon Cheese Burger and Fries
It can also be easy to use exercise as an excuse, and one that I do all too often. ‘It’s OK to eat a whole packet of chocolate fingers because I’ve run 18 miles’. It would probably be better for my recovery and waistline if I chose foods that will help rebuild torn muscles and nourish my body, rather than giving it extra work to do processing the chemicals.
I love the philosophies of RDs including Anne, who suggests that ‘you should not feel bad if you indulge if you’ve decided that it’s worth it’ (read her article here onindulgence), and I also found this article that Steph shared with me really interesting on Sugar Simplified.
For me, a sustainable ‘diet’ is one that can be maintained in the long term, accommodates for parties, holidays, birthdays and off days, and doesn’t leave people wondering what the hell they’re going to cook you when you go over for dinner.
In October I’m going to take part in the October UnprocessedChallenge and would love to get other people involved too.
What are your food views? I love a little debate!

4 Comments

  1. 4th July 2014 / 12:22 pm

    Great post! The only thing I cut out is processed food, as it just doesn’t make me feel good. I also don’t understand how people can forget to eat. Not only do I love food, my body tells me when it needs food.

  2. 4th July 2014 / 1:11 pm

    I think I’m on the same page as you. Nothing is banned in our house but I try to moderate some of the less healthy options, and I reduce my carb intake when I’m not exercising that much. I still drink wine at the weekends and try to balance out one naughty meal with leaner options the rest of the day. Life is too short to be miserable and really restricted if you are already a healthy weight and feel good – I mainly eat by feel/trial and error and I know that if I eat too much processed food and too many white carbs, I will start to feel rubbish, so I adjust accordingly!

  3. 4th July 2014 / 9:53 pm

    Nice post. I’m Vegan but I see that as a lifestyle choice rather than a “diet”. I like to eat healthy foods, that nourish me and help me to feel my best. I totally hate the demonization of fruit, and people saying it is as bad as refined/processed sugar which is totally wrong. I think there are a lot of similarities between the way I eat and Paleo- as in focus on whole, unprocessed foods. However I’m not down with the meat, and don’t think I could live without legumes/pseudograins/grains!

  4. 13th July 2014 / 6:08 am

    Great post Charlie. I was brought up on the “everything in moderation” idea; it’s ok to eat bad things once in a while, as long as it’s not all the time. Generally speaking I try and keep an eye on what I’m eating, and try and avoid processed foods where possible. I love to cook, so avoid ready meals like the plague, and use fresh ingredients as much as possible. However – I do love cake. But I figure that if I’ve made it, then it must still be better than shop-bought cake right? And I totally agree about squishing veggies into cake where possible – courgettes, beetroot, sweet potato (not all at once, I think that might be gross), it makes for a nice change if nothing else.
    I’m going to try the whole food 30 when I get back from holiday at the start of August – if nothing else to try and cut out the amount of sugar I’ve been eating since moving in with my other half (who’s favourite drink is coca cola….. need I say more), and to remind myself that I love to cook, and to pay more attention to what I’m eating – habits have slipped a bit recently. I don’t see it as a diet, as I’m not doing it to lose weight – just to realign eating habits towards the healthier end of the spectrum. It’s going to be a challenge, as I currently live in the middle east, and trying to find things that don’t have added sugar is damn near impossible (they have a big problem with diabetes here) – I think I will have to be going back to basics and make everything. It’ll be a fun experience 🙂
    Oh, and I agree about food on instagram/twitter/pinterest etc. I am totally guilty of posting pictures of food, but more often than not, for every healthy food photo, there’s a picture of some cake that I’ve just made!