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  • Writer's pictureJen Curtis

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.)