Today, we’re going with something ancillary to running: food.
I love food. It’s the best.
But I also have a bad relationship with food. I abuse food. I’m shocked food hasn’t called the cops on me yet, especially on days where I had two pizzas for one meal (this has happened more than once).
That said, I’m trying to get better. It’s a long, drawn out process, but it’s still a process.
Being more mindful of what I’m eating is the goal. I’ve never been unable to cook for myself; I just haven’t always been good about cooking things that were actually good for me. My current kick is trying recipes from here: http://www.skinnytaste.com/
It seems to have worked. I don’t follow the recipes to a T, but it seems like this is a better idea than buying a lot of meals or just cooking the same old things I know aren’t that great for me.
I picked a new recipe this morning and went on my weekly run to the store to get my supplies. Nothing of note happened as I was making my way up and down the aisles. It was the end that mattered.
The person in front of me was older (60s at least). He was also buying next to nothing that was healthy. There was white bread, sodas, pizza, etc. The couple of packs of fresh strawberries and a dozen eggs were the only healthy things I saw on a completely full cart.
And I was judging him.
Something I started doing a few years ago was trying to take an outsider’s look at what I was buying and trying to think what they think. Basically, was I shopping like a 20-something bachelor or was I shopping like a grownup making good decisions? Maybe it was just me being self-conscious or maybe I’m just paying more attention to healthy food. I pay more attention to what’s in everyone’s carts, including mine.
I’m not great, but at least I’m aware of it now. I don’t buy nearly as many frozen pizzas as I used to. The frozen meals I buy are at least somewhat healthy. And I always try to make sure that I’m cooking at least one legit meal a week (which lasts typically 3-6 meals) so I’m actually doing some work and not ingesting the obscene amounts of sodium that accompany ready-to-eat meals.
But of course, I’m also judging other people. It’s not nice, but I’ve never claimed to be nice.
And something I always struggle with is the concept of fat shaming. I don’t think it’s cool to make fun of people for being fat. But I also don’t think it’s cool to say it’s also awesome for people to be fat because, for most people, being overweight was the result of decisions. There are exceptions where people have legit health issues that caused them to be overweight, but for the majority of the time being overweight (or other poor health decisions) caused other health issues instead of the other way around.
This leads me to judge what other people have in their carts. Obesity is a legit epidemic in the U.S., and we’re not doing ourselves any favors with our food decisions (me included).
So I watch what’s in people’s carts. And you see trends. The people who look like they’re in better shape don’t pile their carts with junk food. The people who look like they’ve given up do.
I just can’t imagine getting to a point where your health is clearly in serious danger and not at least trying to take small steps. Whole grains aren’t that had to find. Bags and bags of chips can easily be replaced by potatoes. Pizza doesn’t have to be bought in bulk.
Again, I’m not perfect either. In fact, sometimes I look like I’m deliberately trying to make bad decisions in the grocery store. And sometimes I am. But at least I try to look at my own cart through that lens. I imagine my cart looks a lot like me: someone who tries but doesn’t try very hard. At least it’s something, though.
And because I’m being a less-than-nice person in this post, I’ll at least leave the tips that help me out:
- Find a recipe site you consistently like the results on. Even if it’s not 100% healthy, you’re going to be in better shape making your own food than you are going to Arby’s.
- Make a list and stick to it. Don’t go to the grocery store to browse. Go to buy things. You’ll save money and be less likely to end up with food that’s bad for you, that you don’t really want, and/or that you’ll just end up throwing away later.
- Don’t go hungry. This isn’t a secret, but this is the dangerous one. It’s like putting an alcoholic in a liquor store when I shop hungry. I don’t do full trips at all when I’m hungry any more if it can be helped. If I just need supper or something, I will sometimes go in hungry, knowing only one meal will be a poor decision instead of five.
- Look for the slightly healthier options. You can’t win them all, but in almost all options, you have a choice that at least is a little healthier than the alternatives. The frozen pizza I walked off with today at least has a multigrain crust. It still can’t be considered healthy, but it’s better than the garlic bread pizza I bought yesterday (I still treat myself after races).
So yeah, make better food decisions. You don’t need very many bad meals to completely negate an entire week of good exercise decision.