It has been brought to my attention that I should write about food more often.
After all – how can the girl who preaches “Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym” neglect to discuss what she eats?
*Cue blogger breaking out in hives*
As I said in The Food Part – I suffer from a profound deficit in confidence when it comes to food. Food is my bugaboo. Food kills me. If I was an alcoholic, food would be my vodka tonic.
When my grip on fitness starts slipping, it’s never because I couldn’t bear to work out anymore. It’s always because of a plate of brownies, or an open bar, or a mountain of cheese fries… *drool…*
But when I’m on the right track, I have strict food rules, and I should tell you what they are.
Today’s lesson is this: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS – MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD.
It’s so important to start with raw ingredients and go from there. When we eat things we can’t pronounce, we sacrifice our knowledge of what’s fueling our systems. How can we manage our nutrition when we don’t have our arms all the way around our understanding of what we’re consuming? Achieving and maintaining fitness is hard enough without any extra elements of mystery.
Controlling my fitness generated a fixation on foods made from scratch. When I make an exception, it’s because there’s a special occasion involved. Never more than once a week.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m no raw-foods-vegan or anything. I have tons of variety in my diet, I just don’t generally eat anything that comes out of a box. I take pride in preparing all of my family’s meals from whole foods. I can name every ingredient, and tell you why I used it.
It hasn’t always been this way.
For 20 years, I was technically a vegetarian, but it would have been more accurate to call me a junk-food-itarian. I lived primarily on processed carbs. I was very… fluffy in those days.
When I got married, I couldn’t cook my way out of a paper bag. While getting my MA in Budapest, my BFF and I often ate something we called ‘veggie mush’ – mashed canned veggies in a pot. It was a hot mess.
Committing to nutrition inspired me learn how to cook.
If you don’t know how to cook yet, you can use your fitness goals as your excuse to learn! It’s a fantastic feeling to be able to prepare whatever you might be in the mood for.
The trick is to add a step between your mood and your consumption.
When a craving creeps into my brain and my kitchen is stocked with easy-access processed foods, it’s WAY too easy to snack. When these options are not available, I have the chance to assess whether or not I’m really hungry.
Whenever I think I might want to nibble on something, I know I can either eat something whole (say, carrot sticks – not exactly crave-worthy) or I have to take the time to prepare something. If I’m not really hungry, I won’t have the motivation to go through the motions of prep. If I’m motivated enough to prep, then I’m hungry enough to eat.
Making your food slows you down. It makes you think about what you’re eating and why you’re choosing to eat it. When I was heavy, I ate without much thought. Now that I cook, food is no longer about instant gratification.
Your food doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be gourmet. But it really should be actual food.