My Eating Philosophy

I never claim to be a food blogger, but I do think I fall into the realm of healthy living, as I mainly write about running.  However, proper nutrition and fueling is a huge part of being a successful long distance runner, and I can definitely tell a difference in my life and running when I’m not eating properly.  My first college degree was in dietetics, which I then followed up by heading to nursing school, so to say my educational background and interests are founded in health is a bit of an understatement.

With that background information, I thought that I would share my eating philosophy with you.  I know that many food bloggers and runners got started because they began with a weight loss journey, but that’s never been the situation for me.  I’ve been within the same weight range ever since I graduated from junior high school, and my weight has never been a problem.  How do I do it?  Well, I’m blessed with a beautiful metabolism (thanks mom!), a love for running and tasty, healthy food, and the following eating philosophy:

eat what I want, when I want

I was a pretty picky child when I was little, and I’m certain my diet consisted of vanilla yogurt, cucumbers, Honey Nut Cheerios, mustard sandwiches (yellow mustard on rye bread…delicious), apples, and milk.  For the most part, I don’t remember being hungry until I was 18 or so, but I ate when I was hungry and didn’t eat when I wasn’t.  This is still what I do, and it works well…and makes sense!  You don’t have to eat dinner just because it’s 6pm…eat when you’re hungry.  Eat until you’re full, but not stuffed.  Pay attention to the food you’re putting in your mouth!

Although I eat healthy in general and try to get in all my fruits and veggies, I don’t obsess over it…I like to eat fruits and veggies so getting them in isn’t hard.  That being said, I used to eat ice cream every single night, without fail.  I didn’t eat a huge bowl of it, but enough that I was satisfied and didn’t feel deprived.  The second you start feeling like you’re missing something is when you start to lose it.

eat REAL food

You know those quick and easy meals from the freezer section that you just pop in the microwave and eat four minutes later?  I’ve never had one.  Not even an Amy’s burrito.  I’ve had frozen pizza a couple times in my life, but it has always left something to be desired.  Why?  It’s not REAL food.  Food you make.  Food you can identify the ingredients in.  Something that doesn’t have an incredibly long shelf life.  That’s real food.

Most of my food comes from the produce aisle along with dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese!), grains (bread, which I want to try to make myself, tortillas, rice), peanut butter, and beans.  With other ingredients thrown in there depending on what I’m making.  Many of my foods are perishable as foods generally are!  Eating from the produce aisle (or Greek yogurt!) may be more expensive, but paying the grocer is better than paying the doctor.  And definitely cheaper in the long run.

eat a plant based diet

In Michael Pollan’s book, “In Defense of Food,” the main theme is “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”  While I’m not vegetarian, I’ve mentioned before that I rarely eat meat because raw meat kind of skeeves me out, so I don’t cook it for myself, but I’ll eat it if someone cooks it for me.  Since people rarely cook for me, I haven’t eaten much meat in the past year and a half since I moved out of my parents’ house.  Admittedly, meat tastes a lot different after eating it so little!  Chicken is much more bland than I ever remember it being.  While I’m not opposed to eat meat, I believe that eating plants and beans and such can lead to a very healthful diet.  I think that meat can be incorporated in a healthy way, but that diets should be more focused on plants.

And since I’m a runner, I should mention that carbs are your friend.  I could never go on a low carb diet!  The Atkins diet blows my mind, and I don’t think it’s healthy at all.  Bring on the bread!

never diet

I may be a rarity in the world because as a female, I’ve never dieted.  I was a teenage girl at some point in my life, so of course I had fleeting moments of “ugh, I wish I was skinnier!” but I never attempted to diet.  Or if I did, it lasted for about three hours until I was hungry again.  I give lots of credit to people who lose weight, and I’m lucky that I’ve always been at a healthy weight, but it’s aided in part because I follow a healthy diet most of the time.

To me, a “diet” is a terrible idea anyway, as people need to make lifestyle changes, not just a temporary fix.  You can’t diet for three months, lose the weight, and then go back to your old habits and expect to keep the weight off.  First of all, it’s about being healthy instead of just a number on a scale, and secondly, permanent changes need to be made.

I think one of the problems people have with dieting is that they think “diet food” (including fruits and vegetables) tastes bad.  All food, including the dreaded vegetables, can be made in delicious preparations, but people don’t know how to cook them.  So many people rely on take out and easy meals that they don’t know how to cook!  If people knew how to make healthy food that tastes good, they would probably eat it more.  Of course a burger and French fries will be satisfying (hello, fat!), but if you know how to cook beans and vegetables the right way, you’ll love them to.  I’ll even show you.

food is meant to be enjoyed

When I used to work 3-11pm, being able to eat dinner was a luxury, and even then I usually didn’t bring food I had to heat up because I didn’t want to waste two minutes microwaving my food…that’s precious time when you stand up and shove food down your throat in five minutes or less!  That’s no way to eat, my friends.  Because of this situation, I started taking hours to eat my breakfast and lunch.  Even though I ate by myself, I took my time and enjoyed what I was eating.  I think this is even more important when you’re with people, as food is more than just fuel, it’s an experience.  The ambiance in a restaurant can change the way you think about your food, and this should be considered when you’re eating at home too.  Don’t eat in the car or on your walk to work!  I know there clearly need to be exceptions to this, but if you take the time to think about what you’re eating, you’re more likely to make healthy choices and (more importantly) enjoy what you’re putting in your body.

That being said, I think it is so important to cook your own food.  Children are more likely to eat healthy food if they helped make it…it’s more exciting for them because they were a part of the process!  Same with adults.  You’ll appreciate your food much more if you make it yourself.  Also, if you make your own meals, you know what’s in it!  Who knows what is in those frozen meals, but if you make pasta, vegetables, and your own sauce…it’s up to you what you put in and you know exactly what you’re eating.  Knowledge is power.

and that’s a wrap

So there you have it.  How I think about what I eat and my eating habits.  It may not be perfect, and it may not be for you, but it works for me and I like it.  I think I enjoy a good mix of healthy eating and not restricting myself.  If you want to check out some food that I’ve made, head on over to my “Into My Kitchen” section for some good eats…or just come on over.  :)  Blogger dinner meet up may happen in February, you should join in!

So what do you think of my eating philosophy?  What changes would you make?  Feel free to share your thoughts on both my and your own eating philosophy!  I’d love to hear what you think!

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  1. says

    I think it’s a great philosophy! It is much like my own except I am sure you are a better cook than I am!!! I would love to be included in a blogger dinner meet up. Keep me posted!

  2. says

    This post made me smile. Mustard sandwiches!!! I thought I was the only one that ate these, I have been making them since I was little.

  3. says

    wow. if i had to write my food philosophy it would be word for word to yours.
    eating is fun, and shouldn’t be looked at as a ‘task’ and i also try and eat as little meat as possible.
    the only time my thinking changes is the day before a race.
    it’s at this point i think of my body as a race car that needs high octane fuel… carbs, veggie overload, salt.
    my question to you is… are you daring enough to eat one of my ‘race burritos’ during Reach the Beach relay?!

  4. says

    We are meant to be friends:) I could not agree more with you!! I do not believe in diets because as soon as I tell myself I can’t have something I binge. I LOVE TO ENJOY FOOD and stop when I am full. I love the healthy relationship you have with food and that is what makes you a kick A athlete and person:)

  5. says

    I love this eating philosophy – it’s one that I try to follow, but it’s not as easy for me to do! Your philosophy reminds me of the one behind Intuitive Eating – and I think it is great!

  6. says

    i think your philosophy is a fabulous one! my own path is a little more angst-ridden but i certainly agree with your ideas. i love me some frozen (amy’s) pizza, however. there are some convenience foods these days that are way better than their predecessors.

  7. says

    Great philosphy on food. I agree 100%!! Not that I always follow it perfectly, but they are good guidelines. :)

  8. Ida says

    I think your guidelines are great! I dont really like to label my diet, but try to stay low on the food chain. I eat lots of whole grains and produce. Dairy and I are best friends:) I also agree that deprivation is a recipe for disaster.

  9. says

    I agree with a lot of this – I cook ~85 percent of my food, and because I’ve never eaten meat, I think I’ve been instilled with a certain thoughtfulness about what I eat. However, I try not to take this point of view for granted. I was lucky enough to be raised in a relatively affluent household with educated, healthy parents. I have never “dieted,” but I try not to condemn those who do. Eating is kind of an intimate thing after all (there’s only a few other things we do that involve putting things into orifices).

  10. says

    I definitely am on the smae page with you! I hate when people try to classify themselves as this or that type of eater…I just eat what I want and when I am hungry. It’s not a diet it’s a way of life.

  11. says

    Susan this is hands down one of my favorite posts of yours! I really love it. It’s simple and it makes sense. And when it comes to meat, I’m in the same boat as you. Raw meat grosses me out, so I rarely, rarely cook it. Plus meat is way more expensive than the more delicious fruits and veggies.

  12. says

    “food is meant to be enjoyed”

    I love that :)

    Great post – we have the same philosophy on food! I also did a dietetics major in under grad before pursuing something else.

  13. says

    I like and agree with your food philosophy. Michael Pollan and Food, Inc. definitely have influenced the way I view food today. It is funny how we have to make silly decisions like “eating real food.” Shouldn’t all food in the grocery store be real?! It boggles my mind sometimes!

  14. says

    I’m pretty much with you on the food thing. I eat what I want….but try to make it green and planty as much as possible. Diets? Nope.

  15. says

    I LOVE this post and I love your philosophy! My favorite line: “paying the grocer is better than paying the doctor.” There is SO much truth to that. I only wish more Americans actually saw it that way…

    My approach to food and eating is very similar (though I can’t say that I’m blessed with the same wonderful metabolism as you!). Eating real food, enjoying it, and not depriving (and never ever cutting back on those wonderful carbs). That’s the way I can keep eating healthy for life.

    And there was a (long) period of time where I’d have a bowl of ice cream every night too! Even in winter. It was a necessary part of my meal 😉

  16. says

    Hey there! I have to say I have always wanted to be a nurse. maybe someday I will be. but that, i am jealous of! I love and agree with your philosophy! It just makes so much sense.

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