Running and nutrition

8 messages
14/04/2005 at 18:54
I guess this question has been posed many times but I hope no-one minds if I ask it again. I really need some advise on what is a good healthy diet when running. I don't run much - at most 2-3 times a week but am actually going to try training for a 1/2 marathon in June.

I struggle knowing what are the best foods having been a 'failed' dieter for around 20 years. I'm not hugely overweight but am sure my running would improve if I lost about a stone and a half. However all dieting seems to have done is to make me obsessive about food and worry about just about everything I eat (sadly my first thought on waking is to go through in my head what I ate yesterday and then make myself feel guilty).

I would finally like to break the trap I'm in but worry about then losing control completely and gaining a lot of weight. I have put on a bit since running seriously because my mind tells me I can eat what I like. I think I've spent so much time doing weight watchers and low-fat-dieting that I've forgotten how to eat like a normal person.

Any advice or recommendations for reading/websites would be gratefully received.
14/04/2005 at 19:12
Firstly, analyse your diet thoroughly. Record every morsel that passes by your lips for at least a week. Then sit down and work out where to make dietary changes. You could either make a change that you could live with the easiest, or go straight for your biggest dietary mistake (which will make the biggest, single difference).

Once you have got used to this change, then repeat the analysis. This way you are still eating the things you enjoy, but are eating healthier.

I decided to start with one good meal a day. Instead of crisps and chocolate for breakfast (yes, really), I have a pure fruit smoothie .

Soon after, I decided to limit my take away meals from 4 to 3 (2 now).

It's not too hard this way, because you are still eating the food you like- just less of it. I know this plan might seem too gradual, but it's better to make small changes in the right direction, than to make a huge upheaval that you don't stick with :)
14/04/2005 at 19:32
Snowflake, from the sounds of it you know exactly what you eat, and I'd worry that writing it all down might dredge up that diet mentality that you're trying so hard (quite rightly) to escape.

The most telling line of your message is "I think I've spent so much time doing weight watchers and low-fat-dieting that I've forgotten how to eat like a normal person." Same goes for a lot of us, if it's any reassurance.

Running will make you feel a bit more comfortable about what you eat, but I too felt as though I could eat anything I liked when I first started running, and I soon realised that it doesn't really work like that unless you're a fairly big bloke. The rules about not overdoing it still apply, I'm afraid.

You'll get lots of conflicting advice from the web and from books (it drives me insane), but one good book I'd recommend is Anita Bean's Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition. There's some good woman-friendly stuff in there, and she is better qualified than pretty much anyone else to advise on eating and fitness.

I've been running seriously for a year now, and I do eat a little more than I used to. I also weigh a little more than I used to, but I much prefer my body shape now - it's got a bit more muscle than it did. I used to be a flabby skinny, and flabby skinnies have the world's worst metabolism. Never forget that muscle weighs more than fat, so if you really get into running you may notice improvements in your shape without actually losing weight.

Remember that your metabolism is revved up during the hour or two after exercise, so eat then and your body will use it very efficiently. For all metabolically-challenged dieters, this is very good news indeed!

Good luck, keep your diet balanced, and focus on using food as fuel. That attitude has really helped me deal with the "food is naughty" mentality. I'll never be completely free of it, but running definitely does give you a new and healthier perspective on eating.

14/04/2005 at 22:57
Hi Snowflake,

it sounds like one of the things you need to do is break that morning habit of "reviewing what you ate yesterday and making yourself feel guilty"

Ideally you wouldn't review the day's food because you'd know you'd eaten sensibly (= balanced....occasional treats are not a bad thing)

But back in the real world :-) least till you re-learn what normal eating looks like...

Maybe try reviewing your day's eating at the end of the day, giving yourself a score in a notebook and then closing the book and stating tomorrow is another day. Then in the morning, if you start to review....tell yourself (out loud if necessary) ....I already reviewed yesterday, my score was X, and yesterday is finished.

I'm only suggesting writing the score down as a way of closing the day....but I guess you could also use it to look back at your scores and see your self-assessment improving. By score I don't mean Weightwatcher points or calories or anything formal, just 1 = I ate ice-cream all day long to 10 = I ate a balanced mix of food today, and stopped eating when I was full (or whatever works for you)

To be honest...I have no idea if this makes any sense outside my own head.....ignore me if necessary!
15/04/2005 at 07:52
Heckenhocker, that sounds like a good strategy to me.

I like it because it's a half-way house between formal "reviewing" (writing it all down, scoring points, counting calories etc), which I strongly believe to be counter-productive for someone (esp, IMO, a woman) trying to use food as fuel, and the opposite extreme of not thinking at all about what you put into your body.

I still cling far too much to the former way of doing things, and am working hard to relax it a bit. As I say, running is helping me with it, but 15 years of counting every calorie is a hard (if not impossible) habit to break. Still, it's improved my mental arithmetic!
15/04/2005 at 11:56
Point of note, Heckenhoker's method requires continual writing, whereas mine doesn't. I only said to record and write it down because I don't trust people not to 'ignore' things, because it doesn't suit them to remember. You could just take 10 seconds- RIGHT NOW- and take something harmful out of your diet, that you think you can live with.

Easy enough for you?
18/04/2005 at 22:11
Thanks for the advice people. I know I do need to write things down to prevent me from eating without thinking.

On the other hand perhaps there's too much thinking!

who knows?
18/04/2005 at 23:09
YOU should. It's all about you baby!!!!!

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