02 March 2012

Feeding the IM Machine: The Basics

Inspired by a recent Twitter exchange with my coach and another pony, I'm going to be chronicling how I eat for the month of March. This is NOT a "18 pictures of everything I consume in one day" type project, it's a once-a-week recap of things I make for myself. This is going to reinforce my goal to eliminate recreational sugar intake and maybe give some inspiration to other highish-volume athletes out there on tasty things to eat.

So, let's get started on some staples. At work, I have a food drawer at my desk. It contains
My food drawer at work: a still life. 
  • a few jars of crunchy unsalted almond butter from Trader Joe's (best price in town)
  • a stash of herbal tea bags
  • large bottle of extra-virgin olive oil, cold-pressed
  • bottle of balsamic vinegar
  • bottle of apple cider vinegar
  • some bars of unsweetened baking chocolate
  • a huge jar of raw/unsalted almonds
The almond butter I use for my morning snack, combined with 1/2 apple and a few stalks of celery that I bring from home. I drink a few cups of tea every day. I use the vinegars/olive oil to dress my daily lunch salad, depending on what I feel like (lately it's been balsamic, EVOO, and fresh lemon juice from home). The unsweetened chocolate is my dessert after lunch (1/2 oz).  The almonds are my emergency snack. I make sure these items are replenished regularly.

My daily food schedule usually ends up looking like this:
  • BREAKFAST:  eaten as soon as possible after waking up. I prefer my ameliorated (and pre-cooked) steel-cut oatmeal and decaf coffee with coconut milk. After eating, I'll do a workout (normally shortish so I'm not starving afterward), then get cleaned up & go to work.
Snack time!!
  • MORNING SNACK: have a snack as soon as I sit down at my desk (usually the above-mentioned 1/2 apple, celery, and almond butter)
The anatomy of an awesome salad: spinach, kale, pea shoots, radish shoots, shredded cabbage/carrots/broccoli.
  • FIRST LUNCH: if I have a lunchtime workout, I'll do that before I eat first lunch. first lunch is a big-ass salad. I have a 6-cup tupperware container that I fill with greens (kale, spring mix, spinach, shoots, whatever I else I have) and veggies. I'm currently using a mixture of Trader Joe's broccoli slaw, shredded carrot, and shredded cabbage. Sometimes I will put chickpeas or feta in this mix too. Really it's whatever add-ins I have in the fridge, usually supplied by my CSA: Fair Shares. Lately, since avocados are in season (read: the are cheap) I bring an avocado to slice over the salad just before eating it.
A typical second lunch: spinach/mushroom frittata and quinoa with rainbow chard.
  • SECOND LUNCH: later in the afternoon (like between 2 and 3pm) I have a second lunch, which is smaller and usually has a protein focus. Sometimes it's soup (like white bean/sausage/kale). Sometimes it's frittata. Sometimes it's a quinoa recipe. 
  • EVENING SNACK:  After work I go directly to my evening workout. I've found that if I go home first, I have a really hard time motivating myself to leave again. So I just avoid that situation all together. After the evening workout I might have a snack if I'm hungry, maybe a piece of fruit or a black bean brownie or some veggies and hummus.
  • CUTOFF: I try to stop all eating after 8pm. Sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn't, like if I have a longer workout. 
On the weekends, it's a little harder to stick to that schedule since my workouts are longer. And, contrary to popular belief, I do go out and hang out with my friends after 8pm and sometimes that even means eating later too. So I focus on having a great breakfast, fueling the workout(s) with race foods (sports drink, gels, chews, etc) and then having a real-food recovery snack on hand if I need it. I just recently purchased The Feedzone Cookbook by Biju Thomas and Allen Lim. It has a bunch of great recovery snack recipes that are real food based (in their fancily-titled "Apres" section). I am looking forward to trying these out this summer, especially the rice smoothies and rice puddings!
Biju and Allen. Hey guys, feel free to cook for me any time!!
I'm lucky in that I don't require a lot of day-to-day variety in my diet to be happy. Often I will cook a whole bunch one evening, and then eat the same thing for lunches every day of the week. To me, choosing the right things (and quantities!) to eat can be stressful, so having the same menu each day relieves that stress and makes lunch-packing in the morning easier.

I've seen some great posts from other bloggers about how to feed yourself while managing a heavy training load. What are your tips?
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  1. My food drawer at work was attacked by a family of mice! I now have all my food hanging in a bag over my desk, lol.

    Anyway, I am working with my coach this month on my eating too, seems to be a trend :) Lots of snacks, and having something readily available is key for me. I have dispersed power bars into every bag and purse I own in case I'm caught in a pinch. I also go with the making 2-3 good big meals a week and using those for lunch and dinner the next day if I can. Cuts down on my time for cooking, and also helps to be able to buy food like I'm cooking for a family!

  2. kale is mentioned far too often in this post for me to not FINALLY try it. this month, it will happen!! i need to stop living off of sweet potatos.

    1. I need to start living ON sweet potatoes! Thanks for the reminder, I've forgotten about them as a superb fuel source.

  3. Great post! Do you worry about getting enough protein or track your macros at all? Or do you just eat healthy and let the chips fall where they may?

    1. I get a huge dose of protein in my morning oatmeal (by adding powder). I don't really track anything besides how my stomach feels...full? or not full? and if it's not full, i ask what kind of food will make it full. then i eat it.