First off, food is my fuel. I do not use food as reward or to control emotions. Seeing that long distance training is very stressful on the human body, I do not want to self-sabotage myself by under on my longest workout days nor do I want to throw away a great workout by eating (or not eating) food that will not help me recover and refuel.
Ironically, my body stays in good health, despite not counting calories, eating carbohydrates at every meal, every day of the week, using sport nutrition during workouts, eating before all workouts and not having a "bad" food list.
This isn't because I'm lucky, this is because I understand exercise physiology, nutrient timing and sport nutrition.
The"diet" that I follow around my workouts is my style of eating that is guided by a focus to ensure that my body performs well when I need it to perform well and recovers and refuels adequately so I can repeat the training stress the next day.
When I eat well, I perform well and this keeps my body in great health.
If I didn't eat well around my workouts, either my health or performance would decline.
Typically, it's one before the other but often, both decline overtime.
When you are performance focused, you are going to prioritize foods that help you improve performance. If you focus on body image or something aside from performance when making food choices, it's very difficult to ask your body to perform (go harder or longer) without adequate energy and nutrients in a restrictive diet.
The issue of not fueling properly before, during and after long workouts is very common for the fitness enthusiast turned athlete who doesn't understand the great metabolic stress of going long, the athlete who struggles with an unhealthy relationship with food or the body or a chronic dieter who is training for an endurance event.
I am not going to refuel with a salad after a 4 hour bike ride and 2 mile brick run but this doesn't mean that I have freedom to eat whatever I want or I don't eat veggies on the weekend.
As I said before, I know what works and doesn't work for a body that is training long. I have a different diet on the weekend and it's not built on "reward" food or "bad" food but instead, food designed to fuel, refuel, recover, repair and nourish.
And I never feel deprived, with an empty pit in my stomach or suffer from extreme food cravings when training long on the weekends.
I encourage you to create two different diets, with foods during the week helping to keep you satisfied, nourished, fueled and to control blood sugar and then on the weekend, to help you adapt well to longer training stress, in order to postpone fatigue and to recover the damage that is done from long distance training.
Be mindful that some foods will not work well before and after your short and long workouts and this is ok. It's actually very good if you can recognize this as you will create a diet that works for you and your body.
You can only maximize performance if you have a well-fueled AND healthy body.