Crazy Conversation Series # 2
So I was working a while back in this awesome group where we do loads of body weight stuff - handstands pull ups and things like that. It's awesome, and I look forward to it every week.
I started the 2 hour class and suddenly felt starving. Not the "hmm what do I fancy" kind of hungry. The dizzy, "if I don't eat something now I'm going to faint" kind of hungry.
I had a 2 hour class ahead, and I had just done another 2 hour session - not of strength work but lots of running around.
And you know what? I hadn't planned my meals properly. I rushed out of the house, had a piece of toast on the way, ate a couple of cookies during the first session and rushed to the second one.
Good food choices? Not really. But I was burning it off anyway.
I had planned for this nutrition-fail though, and I pulled a Nutella sandwich (on white bread) out of my bag and started to tuck it away as the coach explained what we were to do.
A few people gasped and looked at me like I had just pulled out a bottle of anthrax.
"What's wrong??" I asked.
When the coach had finished, someone pulled me aside and explained that a few people here don't eat gluten or sugar, so they were shocked and appalled by my food choice.
Shocked and appalled?! That's heavy. I mean, I'm not asking you to eat a gluten and sugar sandwich. Just let me enjoy mine.
I've played around a lot with nutrition, and I think I know a thing or two about it. I know what works for my body and what doesn't. In general, I don't eat much bread, but when I'm doing crazy amounts of sports it's actually a very convenient energy source. I digest it well and don't appear to have any problems with gluten.
I eat as healthily as I can, but try to stick to the 80/20 principle. 80% of the time I aim for whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods. The other 20% I eat treats, a bit of junk here and there, and I don't feel in the slightest bit guilty about it. Maintaining a diet like this is far easier than trying to eat "clean" all the time. It promotes adherence to a well-balanced diet. You're less likely to binge and go crazy on "bad" foods, and you're less likely to feel guilty about less-than-perfect food choices.
But sometimes, I just don't have a microwave handy to heat up my bowl of rice, so a sandwich is very convenient. I don't regulate my sugar intake as I find it's self-regulating. I eat some sugar everyday, but find I don't want more. Anyway, there is a safe threshold, some sources say it's around 6g a day. And if you are physically active, you likely have very good insulin sensitivity so may need more simple carbs to fuel your activity - so you may need/be able to tolerate more.
Sugar tends to be cryptonite for so many women because they believe that they should NEVER eat it EVER. That it is POISON. It makes it off limits and impossible to resist. It makes you want it even more.
I eat as well as I can as often as I can, but I don't give myself a hard time when there are slip ups or exceptions - and I'm in waaaay better shape than I ever was - and more importantly psychologically a lot more balanced. Anyway, I don't exactly have time now to eat a chicken salad or perfectly balance my macros - I just need energy. And a Nutella sandwich gives me just that. I have tried having something more "nutritious" before a workout, but I usually feel bloated, heavy and sluggish. Complex carbs like oats make me fart during a workout, fats like olive oil slow my digestion down (which usually is a good thing, but not when I just need pure energy) and make my tummy hurt or give me a stitch, and any kind of protein makes me feel like I'm going to puke as soon as my heart rate goes up. Sometimes we need instant energy.
(Don't use that as an excuse to eat Nutella sandwiches all day - use your common sense here, people. You don't need instant energy if you're sitting at a computer for the next 8 hours. This is a good time to slow your digestion down and eat lots of filling foods that are hard to digest, like veggies, good fats and proteins.)
Should I have planned better and had a full breakfast, a proper meal in between and a 2-hour rest before starting my next activity? Yeah, why not. But I live in the real world, and I had exactly 30 mins to get from one side of Tel Aviv to t'other before my next workout, and I can't fit a fridge on my motorbike, so hey-ho, I'd say I'm pretty happy with my food choice today, thank you very much.
People love talking in absolutes about nutrition, but if the answer to your nutrition question doesn't start with "it depends," then you should take what is said with a pinch of salt.
My point is, I know full well what I am putting into my body, and it's not because I am not aware that "gluten is poison" or "sugar is death" or whatever. The choices I make about food are well-informed, and I feel very good about them.
But people are so judgey! Most people who have found something that works for them assume that it would work for everyone, whether they are vegans, paleo people, aruveyda advocates, watch your macro people, calorie counters or health-food junkies. It's amazing also how many people who struggle with their weight ferociously defend a certain style of eating, swear by it and are reluctant to consider any other way. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Maybe the reason it didn't work isn't that you didn't do good enough. Maybe the diet is flawed and not you.
It's important to get to know what works for your own body - only YOU know what that is; try not to let the glutenazis or carb counters make you feel like shit about yourself because every body is different and there is no one size fits all with food; do your best to eat what you know is right for you most of the time, but be ok with being effin human - straying from the plan has to be part of the plan in the first place!