Quite frequently, people ask me about my diet as a runner. The first thing they ask is what I do and don’t allow myself to eat when I’m training and racing, but the first thing I say is, I eat whatever I want. The most important part of my diet is ensuring it is varied and balanced, and I try to always cook from scratch. I also really enjoy cooking so this isn’t a chore for me, it’s just ensuring on busy days I have a quick meal to prep so I don’t spend too much time in the kitchen.
One of the most important things I try to do is eat a lot of fresh foods. This includes plenty of fruit and vegetables in order to incorporate as many vitamins and minerals in my meals as possible. This can be helped by adding as many vegetables as you reasonably can to main meals as well as fruit as snacks. If I make a curry, I will always try to fill it up with extra vegetables, such as peppers or aubergines or spinach. Quite frequently, I will have at least 3-5 different vegetables in my meals. I find incorporating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables into my diet makes me feel more alert and energetic, both physically and mentally. It keeps my diet high in fibre too, something a lot of people neglect. I do also eat meat quite regularly but I firmly believe I would rather eat good quality meat where animal welfare has been a high priority or not eat it at all. Therefore I always buy fresh meat from local butchers or meat that is organic.
I used to be bad at spicing up my meals. I had the same go to dinners everyday of each week. I had a few recipes that I constantly ate on repeat. Whilst this is not the end of the world, it does mean I was missing out on getting the different nutrients other foods provide. As a result, my body wasn’t getting some of the goodness it needed. I now try and cook different recipes regularly to avoid lacking some nutrients and also to keep cooking interesting. I LOVE a new recipe book. When I plan my meals for the week ahead of my delivery shop I aim for 2-3 vegetarian/vegan meals, one oily fish dish, a red meat dish and then maybe chicken or whatever else I fancy.
Cook from scratch.
I like to eat out on occasion, but most of the time I cook at home. One thing I do for definite is always cook my meals from scratch. For example, a go to meal for me is pasta pesto with roasted vegetables and feta. I try to make my own pesto and make it in bulk then freeze it for convenience. If I don’t have time to make my pesto, I always try to buy the fresh one to avoid any added long life additives. I like to know what is going in my meals so I can be sure it is all good quality, wholesome ands nutritious ingredients.
For me, balance is incredibly important. It is vital to ensure that I eat a little bit of everything and don’t cut any particular food or food group out of my diet. This was something I struggled with in the past and as a consequence I developed quite a few deficiencies. For this reason, I now focus on allowing myself to eat whatever I want, whenever I want to. This way I keep my stores topped up with everything I need and I also don’t develop massive cravings for having deprived myself of certain foods. This also helps me keep a healthy and rational relationship with food.
Organised and prepared.
This is something that lends itself nicely to my personality. I love to be organised. When I do my supermarket shop I make a list that covers all my meals for the week. If I am busy on certain days I make sure I factor in a quick meal for that day, and if I have a bit more time I let myself get a bit more creative in the kitchen. This makes sure I don’t suddenly get home to an empty fridge and end up eating toast for dinner. After a busy day training, I need to ensure I have a decent meal to kickstart the recovery process.
Ultimately, what I eat is far from rocket science. I eat whatever I want, whilst ensuring I have a fresh, varied, and balanced diet.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!