Reflections on the Life of My Stomach

>> Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Some of you may remember when I invited you all to live a couple days in the life of my stomach. If not, you can get caught up by checking out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, and Day 8. But it's been a few weeks, so I thought it was time to check in and comment on a few things about how it went for me.

  • Something cool: It was incredibly interesting to keep a food diary. It's something I hadn't really done before -- and even the few times I had written down my daily intake, I never took photos. What the picture taking did was make me pay more attention to (and visualize) portion size. I could eat for days without stopping, so knowing exactly what a 1/4 cup of nuts looks like . . . or a 2 tablespoon serving of peanut butter, etc. was certainly enlightening.
  • Something not-so cool: Though I think it's good to be aware of portion size, I became slightly crazy about measuring my foods. I became ever-more conscious of the number of calories I was eating. Again, I think it's good to know in general . . . but I've remained the same weight (within a 5 pound range) for the past several years without knowing. Without stressing. Even now -- weeks later -- I find myself paying more attention than I feel I really need to.
  • Something cool: I found some go-to meals that I know are nutritious and tasty. They take little time to make, too. For example, whole wheat English muffins are a new best friend. They can be used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They can be topped with green hummus and cheese or chocolate and bananas. Sweet potatoes can be microwaved and topped with cheese and garbanzo beans can be combined with coconut milk for a healthy and easy at-work lunch. I like having easy meals fresh in my mind -- I never go hungry.
  • Something not-so cool: I feel that the whole photo diary thing is a great tool. However, it's not realistic for long-term practice. I can't lug my DSLR and upload photos of every single meal I eat every single day. Not that I would, but I know some people find keeping a daily food diary extremely useful. It's also a method that is pretty disruptive to the whole meal time thing. Stephen wasn't a fan. So, for the long-term, the online food diary is not something I can (or want to) regularly maintain.
  • Something cool: Through taking photos of my meals, I didn't only gain the knowledge of how much I was eating. I gained the knowledge of what kinds of foods I was eating. Whether or not I was in balance. Some days I did really well. Others, I was somewhat bread and nut-butter heavy. Even now, I carry with me a mental camera and each day I try to make sure I'm getting a good distribution of carbohydrates, protein, fat, etc. It's hard work, but I can feel the difference (more energy, zest for life) on days when I eat particularly well.

So, those are just a few reflections on the whole adventure for you all. Another good thing to keep in mind is that I didn't drop back and eat only the "best" foods for you all. I still had a hefty portion of pizza, beer, and ice cream. I developed a rather sinful double chocolate granola bar recipe -- and I enjoyed it again and again and again. I also learned that some things can be made with less sugar and still taste divine, just like the red zinger lemonade we stirred up one hot afternoon.

I've also been re-thinking my diet lately. (And on this blog when we say "diet" we mean way of eating, not way of restricting.) I'm becoming less vegan and more vegetarian. I eat eggs more frequently now because I can feel an increase in energy and fullness when I do. I started eating greek yogurt with fruit for breakfast. Previously, I stayed away from eggs and most dairy. But what I am finding is that with my demanding marathong training schedule, these foods help keep me powered.

I like thinking of my diet as a fluid thing rather than a strict, rules-bound way of living. What it takes to be healthy is different for you and me. So, it's important to remember that always. It's also important to just let go every now and again. Enjoy food. Enjoy life. And now we can all enjoy summer!

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