Thursday, December 1, 2011

Radical Thoughts on Food,Diet and the Serious Runner

You would think that runners who are serious about their racing would be serious about what they put into their bodies. However,it appears that the general public,despite figures which show that 60% of them are overweight, are not so particular as to what they consume. We live in an enviroment overloaded with fast food restaurants and stores that are stocked with an incredible array of what are benignly called, "snack foods." It is not my intention in this post to write about the obvious and go over familiar territory as it relates to food and diet. What I want to address is how the serious athlete should view food as well as what and how he eats. In prior articles I have dismissed the folly of eating as much and whatever you want because you train hard and long. I mean,does that assertion make any sense at all when you think about it? What this statement is,is a rationalization giving the person a clear conscience to eat and drink as they please.
Decades ago,the American public was given information that connected smoking with all types of medical problems,not the least of which is lung cancer. Since then,thousands have heeded the warnings and stopped smoking,while others have not and paid dearly for not doing so. Similarly,in recent years, this same public has been informed of the dangers of not only eating too much food, but eating too many fatty foods. Also,we've been advised to eat more fruits, vegetables and natural foods, these are foods that are less processed. It is clear, that unlike smoking warnings, the public has not followed the advice of the experts. Again,proof of this can be seen in the percentage of Americans who are overweight. Sadly, our children have never been fatter and more unfit then they are now.We have become a nation that "lives to eat" instead of one that "eats to live". This now brings me to some recommendations regarding food and diet as it pertains to the serious athlete,it can also be for anyone else who is serious about their health. What I'm about to suggest may seem radical to some but is the route to go if you want a healthy,active life.It is also the way to go if you want to be a lean,running machine who minimizes stress to your heart and musculoskeletal system.I begin by asking, do you eat to live or do you live to eat? I told a friend recently, running can cover a multitude of lifestyle "sins" such as drinking too much alcohol
and eating too much crappy food. You can be an extremely fit athlete while still being someone who lives to eat. People need to adopt an eat to live mentality. As you will soon see, it is not restrictive or something which requires denial and hardship. It simply requires a change in your thinking as it relates to food and a recognition that this way can help you to feel better each and every day.The key phrase here is, a change in your thinking as it relates to food. I will add that I believe eating is one of a handful of pleasures that exist in this life,but, all pleasures can be abused and consequently impact negatively on your life.
What follows are what I believe are the keys to living a long healthy life. First,it is essential to avoid overeating.Too many of us eat way more than we should at meals.You should leave the table feeling as if you could eat more. What you will find is that a little while after doing so you will feel decidedly more satiated than you did when you first left the table. This all has to do with the appestat and the brain getting the message to your body that you've had enough to eat. The specifics of what to eat go like this: for breakfast,the athlete eats a quality cereal or a yogurt or eggs with toast and fruit. Pick one as it relates to the eggs,cereal and yogurt. Of course, if someone is having issues with being too thin then they should add another selection from this group. Between breakfast and lunch eat a snack of fruit. At lunch, a soup or sandwich with a salad. Assuming that your workout is in the afternoon or in the early evening,a mid-afternoon snack of fruit and some type of quality energy bar is the way to go. Needless to say, the drink of choice during the day is water. Coffee and tea consumption should be limited to one or two cups. Soda shouldn't ever be a consideration as a beverage. For dinner,this is a time to indulge but in a controlled way. Ideally,dinner should have some kind of salad or vegetable,a small portion of meat or fish or meat substitute along with rice or a potato. A nutritionist one said something that made a lot of sense and that is that the size of the portion of meat you eat should be no bigger than what you can fit into the palm of your hand. If you desire a dessert then go for it. There are plenty of good ones out there that are well made and are not junk food. The key is always to not overeat.Junk foods have no place in the diet of serious athletes or for anyone that cares about their health. It's garbage that we all have been conditioned to think is OK to consume on occasion. On weekends, when most of us are off from work and many do a long run or extra training,have a time when you eat a pizza or something that is off the usual weekly diet and drink some beers or wine if you like. You will notice that in following the type of regimen above you will enjoy the foods you eat more,much more so than the person who picks up something to eat every time they feel like it.Billions are made on books pertaining to diet,food and eating. The irony of it all is,is that like training properly,the key to correct eating and diet can be found in using common sense,discipline and simplicity.

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