When I decided to stick with a career in Nutrition, one of the fundamentals and values I knew I wanted to hold true to was that the word "diet" would not be used with my clients. I always viewed it as a negative word that mentally was not helpful for people achieving their goals, when it comes to athletics.
The definition of Diet in Webster's Dictionary is "food and drink regularly provided or consumed" or "the kind and amount of food prescribed to for a person or animal for a special reason". Now these definitions paint the word in a positive light, as a helper. The definition that is more associated with the word in our Western society today is "a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight". Key words that I dislike in this definition: "regimen" and "sparingly". Yes we all have our goals, whether they be lose weight, gain lean muscle mass, maintain healthy weight, etc., but those two words paint a picture of strict, structure and "less is more" attitude. This can create a negative relationship with food for most people, and have people in a rabbit hole called "dieting". Instead, we need to remember that
As active individuals, we need to break up with concept of training to fuel. We've all been there at some point in our lives and used the phrase "I ran/swam/worked out for X amount of time so I can have a [insert favorite craved food]". I know I have. When I was training for my first marathon, I used to think about my food in that way. Yes, I knew I needed to eat a lot but I was in college and usually that meant going to the all-you-can-eat dining hall and eat sugary cereal, grab a pastry, and maybe top it off with some soft serve ice cream. Don't worry there was some healthy food mixed into those visits too. But as I learned more about nutrition, I learned that I viewing my food as rewards for long runs or hard workouts, rather than as fuel for my body to move for that next run. And I was most likely deficient in many micronutrients going into that first marathon.
Flash forward 3 years. I have used myself as a great guinea pig for fueling and I've learned that the best mindset for eating for an athlete is
When I focused on this mantra in my training, I gained muscle, speed and endurance and ended up with a 20 minute PR in the marathon. When we focus on the micro details of food, which is often the case in diets, often the type A personality that goes along with most athletes comes out. Athlete's become so focused on a diet and the "rules" that the common symptoms tend to pop up:
Low energy levels
Greater fatigue after workouts
So how as athlete's do we fight the dieting world and still stay healthy? How do we fuel for training properly?
It's called Intuitive Eating
"a dynamic mind-body integration of instinct, emotion, and rational thought."
This method of fueling is based on the idea that only YOU know how hungry you are or what types of foods are most satisfying to you. It is about understanding how food interacts with your body and effects your workouts. There are no diet plans or nutrition guru who could know exactly how you feel with your fueling. This empowers you to become in tune with your body further as an athlete and you gain the benefits of gaining more power from your food.
Find freedom from diets and see your athletic results unlocked themselves with intuitive eating.