The Food I Eat… (and Why I Eat It)

July 22, 2011

*knock, knock*

Is this thing on?

I want to get back to writing on this ‘ere site by covering the food I eat and the reasons I eat it. If you’re interested, awesome, if not, that’s OK too. There’s a tl; dr version below if you’re short of time.

Now I know talking about the food we eat is more controversial than discussing how much money we earn, our political persuasions or whether or not we are believe in God…

…but if you want to improve how you feel, how effective you are, improve your physique and drop some body fat then food is 100% the best place to start, way before exercise.

So how do you start?

The tl; dr Version

  • Food is awesome but can be confusing.
  • Counting calories is boring and takes the fun out of eating
  • Eggs or Oats with useful supplements for breakfasts
  • Awesome tasty fruit, nuts or seeds for snacks
  • Coffee, green tea or water instead of fizzy, sugary drinks
  • Blender drinks are an easy way to 5 a day
  • Animals and frozen veg for lunch
  • Ditch white flour foods like white bread and pasta
  • Good carbs and protein after exercise
  • Don’t forget to treat yourself, if the rest is in order!

Here’s a quick outline of the foods I eat and the reasons I eat it. You can take it or leave it but I know since altering my approach to food well over twelve months ago I have lost a huge amount of body fat and built more muscle than I have before in my lifetime (which admittedly, isn’t saying much considering I spent much of my formative years resembling a malnourished stick instect).

The Ground Rules
I don’t get hung up on calories. I find it boring and once you know the basics you can basically ignore them, if you want to. There are tonnes of resources out there if you want information covering calories. In fact, if you want to skip the rest of the post, I can summarise my entire approach to eating by saying:

I eat whole, natural foods until I begin to feel full. Then I stop. Also, I don’t eat out of boredom.

Meals

Breakfast
Step away from the cereal box…

Breakfast is probably my favourite time of day. I wake up early every day, including weekends and immediately down a couple of glasses of ice cold water. It leaves me feeling rehydrated and wide awake. As I’m doing this, I take a few supplements. I know supplements have a bad reputation and in many ways I agree, so don’t go mad on them but I know how much benefit adding Vitamin C, a multivitamin and a 3g+ of Omega 3 Fish Oil has added to my life.

Once those are out of the way, I usually choose between eggs or oats, depending on my mood. If it’s an oats day, I’ll stick some in a bowl, cover it with milk and stick it in the microwave. When it’s done, I’ll sweeten with either some honey or a handful of whatever fruit is left over (raisins, raspberries, strawberries or the number one choice, blueberries).

If it’s eggs, I’ll crack three or four into a bowl, whisk it up, stick it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and then add spinach, lemon juice, sea salt or pepper.

It’s enough to fill me up and set me on my way.

Snacks

Boredom eating is the biggest problem. It’s easy to have a focused breakfast and then blow it all by downing three cans of Dr Pepper and two bags of Crisps before 10.30am. If I’m still hungry on my walk to work I’ll eat some fruit. At my desk, I have a supply of nuts (almonds, walnuts are my favourites). I sometimes go with seeds but it makes me feel like a budgie. I drink a lot of water or will have green tea. Coffee is good too, if you like it, but I generally pass. I don’t like how the instant stuff makes me feel.

Drinking fizzy, sugary drinks is completely pointless. It’ll fill you up with junk and you won’t make good choices afterwards either (and you’ll feel like crap, too). Stick to water, green tea, coffee. Diet drinks aren’t bad for you, as such, but I doubt anyone is making a claim that they’re good for you.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking drinking a power drink or an energy drink is ‘healthy’ either. It’s basically fizzy sugar water.

Protein shakes
It’s up to you whether you want to drink Protein shakes too. Some people love them, some hate them. Me, I’m somewhere in the middle (“surprise, surprise” I hear you say… “get off the fence you boring idiot!”). I do use them, usually once in the morning and once at night. If you’re unsure what you look for, get one that tastes good with water alone (some taste like dirt) and also one that has at least 16-20g of protein a serving and a tiny amount of sugar. Let me know by email or in the comments if you have any questions.

My Blender
I bought a blender about twelve months ago. It was on offer and cost about £12. It’s awesome. I basically pour 300ml of milk into it and then add whatever I think might taste good. There are a few ground rules (isn’t there always) like make sure you have at least one banana in there (it binds it all together) and adding blackcurrants to anything will leave your smoothie looking like brown dirt but go nuts. I started out pretty tame but now add protein power, walnuts, flax seeds, strawberries, spinach (it’s tasteless so you can eat loads of it by basically cheating).

I’ll post some of my favourite concoctions shortly.

Lunch
OK so carrying around tuppaware isn’t a good look, I admit it but sometimes you’ve just got to take the hit, especially if you’re in an office and it’s your only hope of eating fresh, nutritious food.

I like chicken so eat a lot of it, generally with veg like broccoli, peppers, spinach, carrots. You could also make a big salad with olive oil dressing. Something like that. I’m no Jamie Oliver but once I started attempted to make my own food at least barely edible, I began to enjoy it.

If you’re not a chicken fan, fish is good too. I usually go for mackerel or tuna. I cook up my lunches for a week on a Sunday night, then stick the chicken or steak in a tub in the fridge until I’m ready for it. It means I’m less likely to be lazy and make bad choices. I know I want to do ‘The Right Thing’ and being prepared makes that miles easier.

I love frozen veggies. It’s so easy to get cheap, nutritious food from places like Sainsburys or Tesco. It’s about £1 for a big bag of frozen broccoli, frozen carrots, peppers, spinach… whatever you want. Buy it and try it. “Being difficult to prepare” is a tat excuse.

Dinners

Dinners tend to be similar to lunches, eating chicken, steak, beef with a salad (basically spinach, olive oil, vinegar, cheese – nothing fancy). If I’m feeling adventurous I go nuts and make enchiladas or chilli or something else I really enjoy. There’s no guilt to it either, because I’ve tightened up the rest of my diet. Use the 80/20 principle to your advantage!

I usually work out in the evenings so if I’m out sprinting or doing slower (say it quietly) cardio type work, I usually make a big pan of ‘recovery fuel’ so boil up wholewheat pasta and quinoa and then add some garlic, chopped tomatoes, mackerel and tuna. Then mix it all up. It’s not pretty but it tastes awesome and gets me back on track for the next workout.

If I’ve been working on resistance exercises, I usually look to take on more protein, so will eat chicken, steak, basically any type of animal!

Weekends

Weekends are a little bit different because I have more time. The basic principles are the same but it’s the time of the week when I can fill my boots with things that take a little longer to prepare like good coffee, grilled bacon, eggs… that sort of thing.

It’s usually Saturday or Sunday night when I meet up with family, friends or even just me and Gemma. Eating in groups is awesome, especially if it’s communal food like tapas or pizza. Again, there’s no guilt if the rest of your week is tight. Fill ya’ boots.

So that’s about it. I hope this has helped get rid of some of the confusion around food. It’s not perfect but I it’s a start. I’m constantly looking to add new foods too, so let me know in the comments if you think there’s something I’m missing or would enjoy.

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