I will start by acknowledging that I am in no way saying that I have consistently healthy eating habits, which is why it’s kind of funny that I feel compelled to write about this topic. The image was post-marathon (after a long nap of course) and at the Grizzly House in Banff.
I met with an epileptologist last week who is the latest in a long line of individuals (medical professionals, fitness professionals, my mother) who have been surprised by my dietary choices, including drinking alcohol.
The foods I really like to eat: Coffee/lattes, bananas, cheese, wine, pizza, cheese, cheese, cheese. Foods I also mostly like to eat: Avocado, yogurt, peanut butter, pasta, eggs, breads, hummus, bagels, mushrooms, beer. Foods I don’t like to eat: All previously mentioned and everything else depending on the given day.
I’ve been working on that list for a solid week. I had other meals as well, but those were the items I consumed the most frequently. Without going into the full detail of those items, they weren’t all super healthy. They weren’t brimming with vegetables, made with homemade tomato sauce or organic ingredients or fresh-baked. Lots of time I was at a pub, so the meals were deep-fried AND I LOVED THEM.
Some days I completely forget to eat. I used to be really bad for this. It’s a combination that I don’t like to cook and that one of my medications is an appetite suppressant. I strongly dislike meal planning. Whether it is because I am a picky eater or a side effect of the medications, I struggle to imagine more than a couple hours in advance what I would want to eat, nevermind for an entire week. For me, it’s predominantly the texture of food that I like or that bothers me. That also changes on a daily basis. One day I may absolutely love the squishy texture of a banana with peanut butter, the next day the idea of it makes me nauseous. I normally dislike carrots and in the last couple days I’ve eaten a ton of them.
Overall, the result is that I eat out a lot, or I don’t eat. When I eat out, it tends to be pubs or casual restaurants and I pick just whatever looks good to me at that time. I put 0 effort into healthy eating and I certainly don’t follow any prescribed dietary guidelines. Carbohydrates? Absolutely! Healthy fats? Sure thing! Cream based pasta sauce? Why not? Lentils and tubers? I don’t even know what those are (kidding, sort of). Glass of wine or pint of beer? Make it two.
The more I am running the more I realize that I could potentially be better if I actually started paying attention to my dietary intake. I need fuel to run. I don’t have any structure to when or what I eat. At the same time, I might be a better runner if I made a structured schedule for training. I might be a better runner if I didn’t have to worry about ripping my knees open all the time. If, if, if, if, if. If I paid attention to all the “if’s”, I might realize how much work it actually is to be athletic and potentially stop.
With a medication that is an appetite suppressant, it can be challenging to want to eat. I don’t often notice that I get hungry and when I do, I can’t necessarily identify what it is that I want to eat. Not being hungry and being a picky eater is out of my control. What is in my control is the acknowledgement of that reality and the understanding of what I need to do to counter it. So here is what I try to keep in mind:
- Not hungry ever? Set a timer and try to follow it.
- Picky eater? Keep every texture in the house so whether it’s crunchy or squishy, it’s available.
- Don’t want to cook? Get easy-prep salads and pre-cooked proteins (or cans of tuna). Or cake.
- Don’t want to do dishes? Eat out of the bag/box/can. Whatever.
- Not in the mood for eating, cooking, dishes? There’s always pizza. Pizza is always a yes!
- Don’t eat for a day? It’s not the end of the world.
I don’t choose not to eat and I know I am not the only one experiencing this. I take steps to ensure that I eat, and sometimes those steps mean that it’s not the healthiest items out there. THAT’S OKAY. When I don’t eat, I just need to be aware of it. This is just another circumstance where I have to be aware of my body, of my capacity, in order to keep going. Running is my passion. Epilepsy and all the consequent side effects are my life.
As a closing note: I am not complaining in any way about my weight or size or appearance. I am not implying people have to eat super healthy, because I don’t eat super healthy and that would be hypocritical. I’m just trying to emphasize that our bodies need different things on different days. Respect yourself, respect what you need, and most importantly, respect what you want. Guilt about healthy eating is unfair. Now if you could please excuse me while I enjoy some cheese, chocolate and a bottle of beer. Thank you.