6/12/13

Food trend - plant strong athlete


If you are like most individuals, you are not surprised by the number of new, trendy, hip or cool foods on the market. From fresh to processed, our culture loves to eat trendy foods, companies love to profit it off of them and the media loves to talk about them. (perhaps I have reversed this timeline as the media has a major influence on how, what and why we eat). 

Coconut, kale, gluten-free, greek yogurt, juicing, quinoa. Just a few that come to mind when you think of the recent foods that are most talked about when discussing "healthy eating" or dieting. Anyone remember Olestra?

Did you know that there are over a dozen types of lettuces? I wrote a blog a while back on the many types of green leafy options that you can add to your current diet. 

How come the media isn't obsessing about M√Ęche, Mesclun or Mizuna and how come the grocery stores aren't carrying them for us to enjoy? 

When I work with individuals on the diet, specifically for performance or health purposes, it is very important to me that I treat each athlete/fitness enthusiast as an individual. But in our quick-fix society, it is so easy to want to be like the masses - do like others to receive the same results. 

In the past 20 years, I have "worked" on my diet to create a diet that gives me food freedom and peace with food. Comfort with my food choices without obsessing about calories or portions or food preparation. I have worked on mindful eating the most in that keeps me constantly in the moment when it comes to eating. I know how it feels to overeat and it doesn't feel good. So I don't do it. I don't get cravings or drops in blood sugar because I have tweaked my diet in a way that prevents these issues from happening. It may not work for others how I eat but my body is happy and my body is healthy. Why should I try to  follow a food trend or diet if I have created my own diet that allows me to function well in this world (and performance to the best of my ability during training/racing)? 

 At age 10-11, I decided to not eat meat for animal reasons and since then, I have learned how to eat as a healthy and active athlete/health conscious individual. I call myself a vegetarian because I don't and will never eat meat. It isn't a fad or a temporary trend. 

I know how to maintain my diet when traveling, eating on the road, eating at events and eating at home. I am always excited to better myself with my food choices, especially when it comes to bettering my health and performance but I am not "trying" new ways of eating as if I need to fix what is not broken. I have never fasted, cleansed or detoxed for my body never gets out of whack. 

I see nothing wrong with trying new things and tweaking the diet. Some styles of eating that are trendy (Ex. Mediterranean, vegetarian) actually come with a host of health benefits but that doesn't mean that you have to follow them strictly to still receive health benefits. That is how I work with others for I believe that learning how to create a healthy relationship with food is best mastered when you recognize what foods make YOU feel the best and enhance your lifestyle. Although adding kale and greek yogurt to your diet will not override other dietary choices, certainly there are many great foods out there that without the media, perhaps we would have never seen in the grocery store or recognized at farmers markets. 

When you think about the food trends in 2012, I am sure you have tried those foods or have adopted a diet that includes those foods (some or all). Nothing wrong with that as I hope that you are still working on your diet to support your individual needs and goals and not eating something temporary or for a quick-fix because the news, a celebrity, coach or nutrition guru told you that if you eat this, you will be "healthy". 

As I mentioned above, my plant-strong diet is with me for the rest of my life. It is not something that I will deviate from but instead, enjoy it as it helps me live an active lifestyle. But in the past 20 years, I have worked at it and I invite you to do the same for your own diet. 

Elimination diets are very trendy and I am not a fan. I feel that spending your energy on what not to eat is only going to set you up for failure and restriction in the diet and lack of flexibility with eating (especially around others). Banning food is not the way to go if you want to "be healthy" so instead, I invite you to think about what you aren't eating, possibly what you could be eating instead, as a way to create a positive relationship with food and perhaps, stop blaming the outcome or effect and instead, direct your positive energy to the missing link(s). 


I love writing about plant strong eating because not only do I practice what I preach in consuming a plant-strong diet for health and performance benefits but also, because we all need to do a great job, every day, of making sure we nourish our bodies with real food, mostly plants. If you feel you have "bad" food in the diet, perhaps you just don't have room for other foods (or not making room or the time to consume them) and it is within those other foods that you can make a positive impact on your health, mood, body and performance. It isn't as if one food is better than the other and certainly, no food is "bad" when consumed on occasional eats/treats but take some time - a few weeks at the minimum, to give a little thought to your diet to make sure that you are not "working" on your diet to be like others or to "fit-in" but instead, create a diet that works for you and is here to stay.

Is Plant-Strong "Healthy" for an Athlete? By Marni Sumbal

Healthy eating can be confusing when it's aimed to the masses. With many research-supported guidelines for "healthy" eating, a plant-strong diet is often celebrated as the most effective way to reduce risk for disease and manage a healthy weight. Although it is not required that you give yourself a dietary title as to what you don't eat, consider a variety of health promoting plant-strong foods to fuel and nourish your active lifestyle.

Protein is essential to assist in growth and repair of muscles, bones and tissues, keeps hair, skin and nails in good health, is helpful for the immune system and helps to keep the metabolism, digestion and brain in optimal health.

For most athletes, meeting recommendations for protein (1-1.5 g/kg/d) can easily be accomplished through a varied diet. To ensure a decrease in fat mass (and not lean muscle mass) if striving for weight loss/body composition changes, do not neglect quality, portioned controlled protein at meals, snacks and for workout recovery. 

For proper digestion and absorption, satiety and control of blood sugar with carbohydrates, all individuals should aim for around 20-30g of protein per meal and addition protein with workout recovery/daily snacks to meet your individual daily recommend protein intake.

Nutrition plays a major role in your training regime and the choice for a specific dietary regime (or any variation) should not sabotage your training plan. Because you can't out-train a poorly planned diet, your diet should keep you healthy, active and happy. If your eating today is restrictive based on how you ate yesterday, ditch the diet plan mentality. 

Maintain a healthy relationship with food and consider a more plant strong, balanced diet as you enjoy the creativity, freedom and flexibility that come with eating a variety of whole foods.

Meat or no meat, choose foods that are simple to prepare, convenient, safe, wholesome and pleasurable as you support your healthy lifestyle with consistent fitness/performance gains.

Here's a protein-rich, plant strong meal which has an extra bonus:  many valuable vitamins and minerals within this meal aside from protein!

1 cup mushrooms - 2 protein
2 cups cooked broccoli - 8g protein
1/2 cup farro - 4g protein
1/4 cup black beans - 3.5 g protein
3 ounce tofu - 7g protein
1 cup cherry tomatoes - 1g protein
1/2 cup peas - 3.5g protein
1/2 ounce pumpkin seeds - 2.5g protein
Total: 31.5g protein


Read more: Iron Girl