I have quite a few people asking me, what is it I do differently now compared to what I used to do regarding nutrition.
I think the main answer is, I no longer restrict what I eat. If I want to have seconds, or a bigger dinner than usual, or a snack when I’m hungry, I will! It is so important not to restrict your intake; if your body is asking you for more food, it is probably because it needs it. I now no longer deny my body food when it demands it, but instead listen to it. I am very conscious to eat enough at every meal time to avoid getting hungry soon after and to eat when needed.
I used to not allow myself to eat dessert after dinner, I was convinced I didn’t need it, and if no one else was having it, even if I was still hungry, I wouldn’t allow myself to have dessert. Now things are different. I will always eat something after dinner. Usually it is some form of yogurt or rice pudding, but even if I don’t necessarily still feel hungry, I will always have something else, because I know I need it. This is extremely important too, as it is not wise to go to bed on an empty stomach. We need enough fuel to help the overnight recovery process. On tough session days, I frequently have a glass of milk before I go to sleep to keep my body repairing.
I am much more aware of all the different food groups that are essential to my diet, especially when pushing my body to the limit daily. Calcium is a vital nutrient I used to deny my body. For no reason, I would avoid any sort of diary produce, but this became detrimental to my health. Calcium is so important to the development and maintenance of bone health and should not be restricted. I now ensure calcium is incorporated into my diet throughout the day. I am also very conscious about having a little bit of everything on my plate at meal times. It is so important to incorporate some form of food from the main food groups into your meals. I used to be very bad at doing this, conscious that it would add ‘too many’ calories to my plate, but this is rubbish. Quality is so much more important than being concerned with reducing the quantity on your plate, so make sure you have it all!
I always make sure I start the day right with a big breakfast. Breakfast sets me up for the day ahead. If I have a busy day of training and work, I need to eat enough to last me until lunch time. This will usually consist of two slices (thick, hand cut slices… I love a good loaf!) of toast with lashings of almond butter, a yogurt, and some fruit. This fills me up perfectly and provides me with the energy I need to complete a jam-packed morning. Pre-sliced bread does nothing to fill a whole in my stomach, so I opt for that which I can cut myself (and it is a lot tastier!).
I now always make sure I have something straight after a big session. There is lots of controversy as to whether you do or don’t have a 20-minute window to get protein in after a tough session. However, I feel it doesn’t matter if it is scientifically proven or not, there can’t be any detriment to doing it. Therefore, I always carry a flask of milk with me to a session, so I can drink it straight after to kickstart the recovery process. Not only does this provide me with protein, but also some of the calcium I need for strong bones. In the past I was very ignorant to the importance of replenishing after a session, which didn’t help me progress at all! Now I get something light in straight away, and make sure I have a good meal not too long after.
Whilst there are so many things I do differently now compared to before, these are a few key differences. Some things I do may not work for others, therefore it is so important to listen to your body as we are all unique.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!