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Listening to Your Body is More Important Than Arbitrary Meal Times

Hi friends! Has this week been flying by for anyone else? It’s been a busy but good one over here in fANNEtastic food land!

Let’s kick off today’s post with a little packed lunch inspiration.

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I worked out of the UberOffices most of this week, and that means lots of packed lunches! Here’s what I had yesterday.

For my entrée, a big salad with mixed greens, lentils (canned), feta, 90 second brown rice, and a few shakes of this pre-chopped veggie mix that I picked up from Trader Joes. I love this stuff – makes adding veggies to salads really quick and easy – no chopping required!

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Ready to eat:

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For dressing, I mixed the juice from one tiny lemon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a couple squirts of dijon mustard together in a little baggie and stuffed that in the top of the salad container. That way my salad wouldn’t get soggy before I was ready to eat it!

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I also packed some random leftover string beans for some extra veggie power, but ended up saving them for today because I wasn’t feeling them yesterday. I just ate them a little while ago – yum!

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Plus an orange to eat after the salad. I like ending lunch with something juicy!

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For snacks, I packed a bunch of stuff. First was some of this leftover veggie, egg, cheese, and sausage scramble that we had as an easy dinner on Tuesday night. I was planning to have this as a morning snack but ended up not needing it and having it in the late afternoon instead. Powered me through some evening AnneTheRD client meetings!

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I also packed two Nourish Snacks, but only ended up eating the coconut/almond one (which is delicious, btw). The half popped popcorn is waiting in my bag in case I want it today!

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One thing I’ve been working with a lot of my AnneTheRD clients on is remembering that hunger varies day to day, and that’s okay. I feel like with a lot of the diet approaches, you’re told to eat xx calories per day with the assumption that you’ll always be the same amount of hungry/need the same amount of food. Obviously we all know that exercise can change hunger, but a lot of other things can, too – things like sleep, hormones, how much you ate the day before, etc. I always remind my clients that if you eat something one day and it’s perfect, then you have it the next day and you’re still hungry after you finish, that that’s okay – and that you shouldn’t ignore that hunger because ignoring hunger backfires!

A good example of this is my meals so far this week. Yesterday, I had my standard Perfect Microwave Banana Oatmeal for breakfast at home before heading in to the city, but when I made it halfway through I decided that was enough, so I packed up the rest of the oatmeal to have later on that morning in the office. I ended up going to a lunchtime yoga class at Epic Yoga via ClassPass:

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And then not eating my packed lunch (the lentil/rice salad and orange I showed above) until about 1:20 when I got back to the office.

Today, on the other hand, I was super hungry at 11 so I ate my lunch then because I decided that a snack wouldn’t cut it. So, moral of this long winded story is to listen to your hunger – and understand and accept the fact that it won’t always be the same every day. Don’t let that freak you out – and don’t try to ignore your hunger or stick to arbitrary meal times if they aren’t working for you that day. Listen to your body, my friends!

In other news, I was back at the track this morning!

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Since I’m racing the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler on Sunday with Matt my coaches had me do something different from everyone else – they had me run 2 miles on the track at a steady pace that built slowly into my race pace goal (7:45 min/miles). After I was done, I did a few strides on the field (starting slower and building speed) before calling it a morning. Normally before a race I would do a slow run, but my coaches have had me doing these short speed building workouts (not crazy hard intensity, but stretching my legs) a few days before and I think it helps to get me in the mindset! As for the rest of this week, tomorrow will be another rest day and Saturday I’m doing a light morning yoga class to stretch out. Then Sunday it’s go time! Hoping to set the PR that I nearly/kind of set at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler that wasn’t actually a full 10 miler two weeks ago. :) Fingers crossed that it doesn’t rain like the weather says it will as of now!

I’ll be back tomorrow with this yummy spring veggie quiche recipe for you guys to enjoy this weekend. Until then – have a great day!

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p.s. Jason and I recorded a podcast interview with the team at Runner’s Connect recently to talk more about our Nutrition for Runners program. In it, we discuss why dieting is the wrong way to look at nutrition, misconceptions runners have about breakfast, and how runners can avoid making the most common nutrition-related mistakes. Click here to listen to it if you’re interested!

Comments

  1. 1

    All this food looks so good! I had to have my afternoon snack this morning because I was so hungry. Hopefully my lunch can power me through til dinnertime!

  2. 2

    Yum, our fridge has been out for two weeks so I’m craving more salads, I will have to try the traders chopped veggies.

    I have a question for you…I’m trying to lose weight but during the week I find I don’t have time (with work and a toddler) until about 9pm. I either do a spin session or I started up Jillian Michaels 90 day program so I will do a 30 min strength video. Should I be eating anything after I finish? I generally go to bed about half an hour to an hour after I finish. I just grabbed some of the organic valley drinks you have featured and was debating on drinking one after but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea with me sleeping after…any suggestions would be wonderful :)

    • 3

      I would definitely refuel with something light that has protein/carbs after you work out – don’t wait until morning to replenish those muscles! The Organic Valley protein drinks would be perfect – enough to refuel but not so much that you go to bed overfull.

      • 4

        Would the same apply to me? I typically eat 3 balanced meals and exercise 2 hours after dinner. I do not refuel, but I am usually hungrier for lunch earlier the next day. Do you think that is ok? My exercise is probably not at intense – going to the treadmill for an hour totaling to 5.5 miles and on a bike for about 10 minutes. The days I exercise in the morning I find myself needing multiple snacks to get me through the day.

        • 5

          I can’t really answer this without knowing more about you (and that’s something I reserve for my nutrition counseling clients), but I’d definitely recommend refueling with something small and protein/carb filled (like chocolate milk or a Greek yogurt) before bed, just to help with muscle repair post-workout. Especially since you are running quite far!

  3. 7

    great post. i feel like people ask me a lot whether i eat more (/ am hungry more) during marathon training season, and i never quite know what to say. i assume i am, but i don’t obsess about or even really think about it, so I don’t even know. i just eat when i’m hungry and try to make sure it’s mostly healthy! also, it’s weird how some runners (sometimes this is me!) aren’t starving the day of a race or hard run (in fact, they almost lose their appetite) but are famished 2-3 days later. sometimes i feel like i eat the most on my “off” days.

    • 8

      Totally agree! I was just talking with a client about that this morning – how extra hunger usually comes the day or two after hard workouts! Also, love what you said: “I just eat when I’m hungry and try to make sure it’s mostly healthy.” Perfect!

  4. 9

    I love this! That’s how I strive to eat. It’s hard living on campus, because food isn’t always available when /where I want, or if it is, it’s not good food haha. So I’m always packing my lunch or dinner or snacks :) sometimes people question it, but it works for me!

  5. 10

    Totally agree with you on the hunger philosophy – great reminder, it can’t be said enough! :)

  6. 11

    I am so glad that you are sharing these sentiments of mindful eating! I have partnered with a yoga instructor and we are teaching the principles of mindful eating, moving and living. One of my favorite quotes I use with my clients is, “If you are not hungry when you start eating, how will you know when to stop?” Thanks for your post!

    • 12

      Great quote! I feel like yoga helps SO much with mindfulness – I always love when teachers weave mindfulness-related discussion into their classes.

  7. 13

    It definitely took me a long time to realize that my hunger varies from day to day based on so many factors. Now instead of obsessing about it I just try and listen to hunger cues and eat when my body needs it!

  8. 14

    I love this reminder, and I definitely could use it, especially recently. Hunger signals know what they’re talking about (most of the time), and the body is smart, so you should listen to it! :)

  9. 15

    Listening to your body and being flexible is so important. Not everyone is confident enough to be that way, I’ve finally found that happy place where I feel confident enough to be flexible..so freeing! That quiche looks incredible!

  10. 16

    Anne! I’m definitely curious about your thoughts on runners who eat a paleo diet – do you think that type of diet is sustainable for good athletic performance for racing?

    • 17

      I think the paleo diet can be very nutritious if done right – I love that it focuses on whole, real food, lots of veggies, etc. That said, I’m not a fan of any diet that restricts specific food/types of food, because putting things off limits makes people want them more and can, in the long run, lead to bingeing, guilt around food, etc. I think taking parts of the paleo diet mentality and incorporating it into your normal eating can be great, but again, I don’t like the idea that you CAN’T have something if you really want it. You also need to be mindful of getting enough carbs, if you are doing really long distance running. Paleo isn’t low carb necessarily, but you have to make sure you are doing it right.

  11. 18

    I’m really interested in this intuitive approach. It makes a lot of sense. But I wondered if you had any advice for people (like me) who are out of touch with hunger signals. I seem to feel either not hungry or absolutely ravenous!

    Part of it I know is bad habits & overeating, but for me also I take a medication (prednisolone for Crohn’s) that messes with my appetite & signals.

    So I suppose what I’m saying is I don’t really know what hungry is supposed to feel like… or indeed what the right amount of full is to stop eating. How do you advise people to get back in touch with that?

    • 19

      It definitely can take some time to get back into understanding what hunger and fullness feels like for you; i’s something I work with clients on for months, so it’s hard to explain in a short blog response, I’m sorry! But slowing down at meals and working on being more mindful in general (eating without distractions, etc.) can help a lot. Making sure you eat BEFORE you get too hungry helps, too, because it’s easier to eat more slowly/pay attention if you aren’t starved.

  12. 20

    I have a hard time planning my food for the day for some reason. If I have some handy leftovers I’m good but if not I never seem to have the time to put anything together. Bad planning I guess.

    I agree that appetites vary from day to day. I don’t really pay attention to when I eat anymore. If I’m hungry, I eat! I tend to have a blood sugar drop so I don’t wait too long either, or all of a sudden I’m shaky and slightly dizzy.

  13. 21

    Hi Anne:
    Loved this post and loved the podcast even more. But how can I reconcile this?
    You guys mentioned in the podcast that it’s good for runners to front load calories–so that we aren’t getting really hungry around 8-9–presumably after dinner. It makes sense. But with the principle of IE-which I am trying desperately to get better at…if I do a longer run (usually on Sundays)….and the thought of food isn’t really pleasant until later in the day, I don’t know what to do–“eat when hungry” or make myself have food right after the run because I know it’s beneficial for recovery. Does my question make sense?
    Thanks.

    • 22

      That definitely makes sense, Lauren! Long distance running is one of the times when intuitive eating isn’t really 100% doable (both during runs in terms of fueling, and right after, because you’re right, it messes with hunger cues even though you need to refuel). I’d recommend having something to refuel immediately after the run that’s easier to stomach but still nutritious – something with protein and carbs, like a smoothie, chocolate milk, Greek yogurt with fruit, etc. That way you’ll be replenishing your muscles, but your stomach won’t rebel. Then when you are ready to have a real meal, you can do that later. I hope this helped! We talk about that more in the Nutrition for Runners Program, too.

  14. 23
    Roadrunner says

    Love your sensible approach to diet… Good luck on the race!

  15. 24

    Truly eating intuitively is difficult, after you’ve been stuck in a very rigid ‘healthy diet regime’ for 5 or 6 years. You don’t want to go out of control not eating at the scheduled times, so I have a hard time eating a snack when I’m hungry, because I think I will go out of control. I know I won’t, but it’s a challenge to diverge from the status quo . Thanks for your examples Anne!

  16. 25

    Love that reminder that hunger varies from day to day and to listen to your body, not be a slave to the clock or to calories. So important!

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