I don't like to impose my personal practices on anyone, but particularly with the New Year, I received a lot of questions about what I drink/eat each day. Let me be clear- what works for me, may not work for you. We are wired differently. We are balanced differently. We require and convert energy differently. Got it? Good.
For me, this "system" works for my work, social and health objectives. It has soothed my digestive system, boosted my energy and improved my gut health. It's been trial and error, and I suggest you make any changes slowly and really notice what does, or doesn't, work for you. And if anything I share can help you through the process- here goes:
Chug (yes chug) 24 ounces of (room temperature) water first thing.
Morning shot. I shift between aloe water and apple cider vinegar, tumeric with cayenne pepper, fresh ginger and spirulina and lemon juice. Note: Tumeric is absorbed 2000x more (not a typo) when consumed with red or black pepper.
Green Juice. I strive to maximize efficiency and value with my juice. I make my own, for about $2.50-$4.00 a pop. They are green, gritty and loaded with nutrients. I figure if I am going to put in the time, money and energy to juice, I need to get the most out of it. #allin So I have it first, when my stomach is empty and I can visualize (and feel) all those vitamins and nutrients flooding my system. The energy kick.... it's been significant enough to break my 10 year habit of a morning venti-bold red eye at Starbucks.
Morning snacks vary by hunger level. Most days none. Some days lots.
If hungry, I go for a couple of veggie frittatas or a jumbo juice pulp muffin, both of which I pre-make and freeze. If time (rarely), I make oatmeal- gluten free, made with almond milk, topped with almond butter, bananas, maple syrup, cinnamon, maca and whatever else looks good.
I make these in the morning and pack them to go. The key to making these easily is having what I need on hand at home. For me, that includes bananas and avocados which I cut up and freeze for a quick grab. I choose almond milk or coconut water as my liquid. Then depending on the variation I fill them with spinach, almond butter, beets, pumpkin or sweet potato. I boost them nutritionally with maca root powder, hemp seed, bee pollen, coconut oil, flax seed meal, matcha green tea, spirulina or chia seeds. And I kick up the flavor with ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cayenne, coffee or vanilla. The basic outline is- liquid base, main substance, boosts, flavors. The combos are endless. You can pretty much think of your favorite foods or desserts and turn them into some sort of smoothie. Yum.
Water. Matcha. Water. If you aren't familiar with my matcha obsession, see previous blog post dedicated to this magical green powder. I like to have it with cashew or almond milk which makes it a filling option. Homemade almond or cashew milk is loaded with protein and free of chemicals and preservatives.
Snacks depend on my workouts. I don't have a set routine for them, I honestly just listen to my body and when I am hungry I eat, when I am not, I don't. The trick is separating boredom, anxiety, procrastination or any of the other reasons I can convince myself I am "hungry." When I do graze, I often grab Lara bars because they not only taste great, but they are not filled with additives that are difficult to digest. I like to make dates stuffed with almond butter and my own energy balls which I tend to have pre-workout. And as weird as it sounds I love... baby food. Yup, you read that correctly. Those little packets that squeeze out organic veggies and fruits.... love 'em. I even ran with them during the Boston Marathon last year (gels, gu's and sport beans are NOT friends with my stomach).
H2O. H2O. H2O.
By now I am usually approaching 100 ounces.
Dinner = total wild card. Most health advisors would tell me I eat too late, go out too often, that I shouldn't eat my biggest meal of the day so close to bed. They would probably assert that the amount of nachos I indulge in, is just simply not ok. And.... they may be technically accurate. But lucky for me, they don't get a vote on what goes in my belly. :)
My job requires a lot of nights, weekends, and on-the go. When working events, I often stop for a burrito bowl at Whole Foods but skip the rice and add lettuce. Or I pick up a salad from my favorite shop Energize (locals- they are LITERALLY the best salads in the Boston area). If I cook, I keep it simple with salad, tacos, lots of veggies, tofu, jackfruit, sweet potatoes or some sort of chili that I can make in advance. The biggest variable is going out to eat. I do this... a LOT. I love meeting friends and catching up. I love exploring new menus, flavors and places. And... I love not having to do dishes.
I decided that, for me, those feelings contribute more largely to my overall happiness than being 100% strict with what I eat. Eating for pleasure, eating for connection and eating for experience are values I have placed over being completely stringent and leaner. If you haven't caught on, nachos are my biggest weakness. Otherwise, I try to stick to my principle of eating foods in their closest state to natural. I order a lot of salads, I often pair a side of veggies and an appetizer for a meal, I skip the fries (most times) and opt for seared tuna or some sort of fish that isn't covered in butter, bread crumbs or oil.
When grazing a menu make the best choice you can to align with your goals. If you have a sensitive stomach or are looking to lose weight, I advise avoiding casseroles, breaded items and things that are drenched in sauces. Typically, the more complicated it is to prepare, the more complicated it is to digest. With that, remember that the more heat used when preparing, the more nutrients that are lost (raw spinach will have much more benefit for you than cooked). Pick something yummy that truly showcases the natural flavor of the food. And if you really want the nachos... get them. Just not every single time..... Balance.
Before bed: Water.
I believe the key to success is identifying what your goals are, determining a balance you are comfortable with and making informed decisions each meal. Know what you are eating, but most importantly, know WHY you are eating. Pleasure, fuel, recovery, energy, social, celebratory..... these are all perfectly good reasons. Then, notice how you feel after eating something. What makes you feel energized and when do you feel tired? When are you hungry again? Which foods impact your mood? Which are hard to digest? We are all wired differently and our chemical make-ups, digestive tracks and daily schedules are going to impact our needs. Each of our input requirements will depend on our output requirements.
Be aware, be informed and be reflective. Experience how empowering it can be to become an expert on your own needs. Sure, you can take notes from me... but be YOU!