Q1) I'd be interested in nutrition for the ordinary person on an ordinary wage with wife/husband and kids. Too many suggestions these days involve fancy new age foods like quinoa or exotic berries not to mention expensive ones like avocados and (tasteless) chicken breasts. - William Brown 7
A1) Thanks for your post. There are some basic nutrition principles that you need to consider to perform well and stay healthy (not just for the short term but also long term health). A good diet will help support consistent intensive training (that marathon training usually requires!) while at the same time reducing risk of illness, & good recovery from training can also help promotes adaptations to training (ie changes that happen that make you fitter or able to run for longer etc). My job is often to get the basics right in someone’s diet and often I manipulate energy intake to achieve certain goals such reducing body fat levels or improving recovery etc. To do any of these things you do not need to include expensive foods.
So consider the basics you need. The base of all meals should contain carbohydrates and in an ideal world should be mostly wholegrain versions; so wholegrain pasta, rice, cereals or other carbs such as potatoes (all varieties are fine) and bread (homemade can be cheaper and easy if already have a bread machine). Quinoa is not new age, it is just more traditional in other countries and due to the world getting smaller in terms of trade we now see these foods in the UK. These are a choice however, not 'needed', nor is a diet necessarily better for having these foods in it as that will depend on bigger picture of someone’s diet.
The next food you need to think about in a meal is protein: you have the obviously ones such as meat, fish, eggs and cheese but you do not need to eat meat or fish everyday. Cheap options are lentils & other pulses such as beans. You only need to eat up to 2 portions of fish per week (up to 4 if heart problems) one of which should be oily fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines/pilchards, trout). You can buy these quite cheap or as vacuum packed and you still get the fish oils.
Then you must consider colour in your meals – your vegetables (or fruit but always try and get a decent about of veggies in meals) and try and use a variety - the more varieties the bigger the range of vitamins & mineral your body will get. Frozen is cheaper and could actually be fresher than any supermarket varieties & buy what is in season.
The price of food has gone up but if you plan your meals and avoid buying too many extras such as chocolates, 2 for 1 offers you don’t need etc, you can eat well. People can feel it is too much hassle to meal plan (and you may not be one of these people) BUT you can save a lot of money by planning meals and probably eat better and use the principle cook once eat twice (freeze the extra). A tin or carton of chopped tomatoes (you can get for as little as 35p) with some herbs and garlic can make a sauce that can feed a family without the salt content etc. Fat is important in your diet but a little oil (olive sunflower, linseed, rapeseed etc) is a great source, as is your oily fish (oily fish also has vitamins D in it).
Recovery foods post-run can be a bowl of cereal and milk - it's perfect as a recovery food. It has the protein & carbs. Drink water for fluid replacement as salt from food will help with the fluid replacement. These foods advertised as 'super foods' such as berries are very high in antioxidants (and they are to be fair) but if you eat at least 5 but ideally more of other brightly coloured fruit and veg and have a good mix/variety of these then you will get a good source of antioxidants. You can buy berries frozen too and add to natural yogurt etc. I think if you plan you can eat on a budget and not waste foods then you have to spend time on planning.
Gels: the convenience of gels for some is the ease digestion. They are compact, stay fresh in foil and only need one gel for say 5 jelly babies and this is probably what makes them popular and of course the marketing, but they are no different to eating jelly sweets if you work out the carbs to be the same. You have to eat a lot of smaller jelly sweets such as jelly beans to match a gel. In hot marathons sweets can get very sticky or in cold conditions harder to chew. Some people find out what gels suit them then rarely use these until marathon day but jelly sweets are also fine! Work out the pros and cons for you.
So look past the marketing and really see what needs to go in your trolley to make simple inexpensive meals.