When I wake up in the morning, and finish my breakfast I move directly to packing my lunch. When I look at what I want to bring for the day there’s lots of things I consider:
a) Do I have a good balance of lean protein, fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
b) I consider when I will be eating and I pack small portions to keep me satisfied.
c) Depending on when I get home, I’ll know if I need to pack 2 or 3 meals with me.
d) What did I eat for breakfast and how full did it make me?
My philosophy about food is to eat whole foods, trying to stay away from processed foods, and to be conscious of where my food comes from. My philosophy about eating is to eat to sustain my energy level, always listening to my body. As a result, I find that eating 4 – 5 meals per day has helped me to feel confident about my body and healthy. Eating always involves listen to my body. If I’m getting full I stop eating. I do my best to never to get that overly full bloated feeling. Also, if my body is telling me that it’s hungry I give it some nourishing food. I find that my body has a bit of a pattern as outlined in the next paragraphs. I eat until just before full, every 3-4 hours. I generally stop eating at 7:00 p.m. but there are always exceptions. This is a really flexible eating style and remember: “Always listen to your body!”. If for some reason I have a bigger meal, I don’t usually get hungry until 5 hours later. Just being aware is really important.
So here is what my day may look like.
7:30 a.m. This is an omelette I had taken a picture of a while ago. It’s usually just a basic one egg and 2 egg white omelette. Although this one just had ham with fruit on the side I like to add in veggies. Some of my favourite mix ins are: spinach (finely chopped), tomatoes, red peppers, and salami. Depending on how hungry I am, I may or may not have some whole grain toast. A breakfast like this usually lasts me 4 hours.
11:30 a.m. When I start getting hungry again, I’ll go for a small meal. I find that a bowl of soup, half a sandwich, or salad works quite well. Today I’m bringing the best split pea soup ever, from Remarks. Made from scratch this soup is loaded with proteins from the split peas without all the preservatives and chemicals you find in a can. It’s my favourite. If the soup isn’t enough I’ve got plenty of fruit which I’ve brought along. (P.S. The soup was definitely enough).
2:30 p.m. My stomach will usually start rumbling around this time so I make sure I’ve got another small meal. Again depending on how hungry I am I’ll either eat one or two nectarines with some kind of lean protein (e.g. chicken, nuts, or beans). Don’t be fooled, that bowl of barbecue soy beans (made at a local St. Thomas store) measures to about a handful. Soybeans pack lots of good fats and protein so this is a great snack. I have such a tiny bowl because it really is quite filling and packs a lot of energy. Don’t make the mistake of eating a lot of something that is healthy, it’s still calories.
Usually I get home from school around 5:30 or 6:30 and I launch into dinner. This dinner has lots of lean protein from the fish, and quinoa is packed with great nutrients. Asparagus is a great way to get all the nutrients from the dark green vegetables. I think it’s great to have a small dinner, but most importantly listen to your body. If I’ve had a long day, burned lots of energy I may need something bigger. If I haven’t done too much I may opt for a smaller meal. Eating slow really helps me understand when I am full and to stop when I get there.
Eating this way can definitely be a challenge. I find if my timing gets disrupted and I get very hungry, I may over eat and that never leaves me feeling good (not to mention how cranky I get). I’m trying to tailor this to my body and I feel that this has been working for me. I always have lots of energy, I’ve slimmed down, and I don’t often feel tired throughout the day. To help me figure out what eating strategy works well for me I’ve started keeping a food journal. It’s a great way to be accountable for what I eat. When it’s in writing it seems a lot more powerful. For example, writing down that I ate 4 cookies after dinner puts snacking into a whole different perspective. It also allows me to spot trends in my eating. For example do I eat more after a workout? Sometimes. Do I snack as a reward? Yes. Do you eat more at different times of the month? (ladies?) Yes.
I’m nowhere near perfect. There are definitely times when I over eat and if I bake fresh cookies, I also find it hard to stop at one. However, I find it much easier to bounce back from poor eating with this eating plan. This is a learning process and I don’t mind making mistakes.