“Ask the Coaches” Nutrition Series: Coach Emily
- What does “healthy eating” look like to you? Why do you define it this way?
To me, eating healthy means eating food that empowers you to live the life you want. Does your food make you feel good or bad? Does it make you happy or frustrated? There is no blueprint for eating healthy. There are principles for eating healthy – such as eating food that makes you feel energized and eating as many whole foods as possible – but healthy eating is a constant process of discovery, not an end destination.
Eating healthy means eating intuitively – giving your body what it wants and what you know it needs.
- What changes have you made to your eating habits & nutrition in 2018 and why?
In the beginning of 2018, I experimented with my eating habits, trying a couple different new things. I tried intermittent fasting – not eating for 12 to 14 hours overnight and into the morning. I had to really work up to it, starting at 9 hours, but after a couple weeks I noticed a I had a more manageable appetite throughout the day as well as more energy and mental clarity during my early morning work hours. Once I started running peak mileage, though, it wasn’t sustainable and I started eating whenever I started to feel hungry, which was usually right when I woke up.
Another thing I tried was changing up my ratios of carbs to healthy fats. At Force, we always preach that there is no “one size fits all” way to eat, regardless of the general dietary recommendations. Through experimenting, I found that I preform better, feel better, and eat better if I eat more proteins and healthy fats and minimize carbs. That has been a sustainable positive change this year.
- Do you struggle with a certain aspect of nutrition? What kind of strategies do you use to combat that struggle?
I have a HUGE sweet tooth, and I’m always trying to find a healthy balance between not depriving myself and not going into a sugar coma. If I want to keep it in check, I have to be an abstainer, because I can’t be a sustainer. Yet, I don’t believe restriction is a healthy practice, so I get creative and come up with new ways to replace desserts loaded with added sugar with healthier, equally delicious alternatives. It’s been pretty successful, although if someone hands me a home-baked cookie or a slice of cake, I’m still going to say yes 100% of the time.
On a more deeply personal level, I used to struggle with body image and disordered eating as a teenager, and though I have thankfully beat that struggle, it still creeps up from time to time, especially during peak training phases. To successfully combat it, I practice positive self-talk almost constantly.
- Do you have a favorite meal to make? Share the recipe!
I love stir fry. I love colorful meals packed with lots of vegetables and protein, so I make different types of stir fries and curries every week. One of my favorites is a kung pao chicken recipe I made up and have posted on the blog before (click the link).
- What is the most helpful piece of nutrition advise you can pass along to others?
Food isn’t meant to make you feel like you’re in prison. Food is meant to make you happy, increase your health, and fuel your life. Too often we focus on what is “right” or “wrong” to eat. Food isn’t inherently good or bad – but a lot of one thing or another can either help you or hurt you. Choose, buy, and cook food that empowers you to feel the way you want and live the life you want. If that’s the occasional slice of cake, right on!
If you’re having trouble choosing along the lines of what you want, or if you find yourself caught in the battle of, “I know what I want to do but I just can’t get myself to do it,” ask for help. We’ve all been there – all of the coaches at Force, and most of the clients. If you ever want to talk about nutrition, your relationship with food, body image, or anything related, I’m always happy to talk. That’s one reason I love being in this field.