11/18/15

Mindful eating part II: Food is Fuel


How did you do with your homework today from my last blog post?
Did you find yourself with positive or negative thoughts when you ate?
Did your thoughts turn negative when you ate foods that you term "off-limit"?
What foods made you feel the best and what foods gave you the most anxiety?

Continue to work on this so that you learn how to quiet the voices in your head so that eating is a peaceful, joyful and positive experience.
I promise - it is possible and it will make a huge impact on how you fuel for your athletic endeavors.
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So why do I continue to talk and talk and talk about mindful eating as it relates to athletes?
As a Board Certified Sport Dietitian, shouldn't I be spending most of my time talking about supplements and sport nutrition products?

Well, every athlete has to eat.
And in my field of work, far too many athletes struggle with their relationship with food and their body.

Since many athletes don't consider mastering mindful eating before they start training for an athletic event, I can't stress how important it is to develop a great relationship with food and the body in order to boost athletic performance and overall health. 

If you continue to train for events (especially long distance events) with an unhealthy relationship with food, there is a great risk of developing an unhealthy relationship with body image later on.
An unhealthy body image drives unhealthy eating habits.
Eventually, performance and health decline.

If you feel uncomfortable eating before workouts, using sport nutrition during workouts or have yet to learn how to eat for health and plan your diet throughout the day, you may find it extremely difficult to experience success in athletic development without a health-related setback.

You can be extremely disciplined with training but if you do not fuel smart your body will not perform well.

Being mindful with your eating allows you to see food differently.
Mindful eating allows you to train better.

I feel that the topic of mindful eating (specific to the sport of triathlons and running) is often ignored when it comes to providing dietary advice from the masses. There are very few Board Certified Sport Dietitians like me who even discuss the topic of mindful eating.

Because there are many individuals who hav struggle with prior years of dieting, struggling with body image issues or exercising with different intentions, it is important to master mindful eating.
If your mind is yelling at you to not eat what you are about to eat/drink, it's time for a break-up as your relationship with food is unhealthy.

BUT - it can be fixed! 

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Once you sign up for an event, you are an athlete.
When you are an athlete, you must have a great passion for healthy eating as well as for fueling and hydrating your body properly to support your daily training stress.

These days, our society has a great disconnect with food. Busy lifestyles and an obsession with diets, food trends and body image may increase the tendency for athletes to become disengaged when it comes to understanding biological hunger, snacking with a purpose and fueling for upcoming workouts.


In honor of the recent NBC Broadcast of the 2015 Ironman World Championship this past weekend, I had a celebration party at my house. I invited a few close friends and we watched the recorded broadcast while enjoying appetizers and pizza (I love any excuse to eat pizza). 

I remembered the cake that I put in the freezer several weeks ago, all for the "right" time to eat it.
I could not think of a better time to enjoy this KONA cake than with our close friends, while watching IM KONA.

Even though I ate pizza and appetizers, I still ate cake. Just a few bites as that was all I needed to feel satisfied and happy in my tummy.
No guilty feelings. No need to exercise more the next day. No anxiety when I went to bed about what I ate. 

Mindful eating is the art of attaching feelings of satisfaction, pleasure and hunger with food. Mindful eating is detaching feelings of guilt, anxiety, numbers and negative food words when it comes to food.
Kale, bread, grapes, milk, cookies or cake - mindful eating is freedom from food rules as you are in control of what foods make you feel the best without thoughts in your head telling you otherwise. 

I will say it over and over but an overlooked area in athletics is the topic of mindful eating. There is no doubt that there is a heightened awareness of body image in aesthetic and weight-bearing sports and for a fitness enthusiast turned athlete, it is very hard for some athletes to turn off the mindset of working out to burn calories and instead, training for performance gains. 

Whereas a fitness enthusiasts can get away with exercises as a way to burn calories, athletes must see food for fuel. 

In Part III, I will discuss some tips to help you master the art of mindful eating. .