One of the most common questions I get when talking to fellow athletes is that of my diet. People always want to know what I eat when racing (fairly simple, a lot of gels), but also what our diet looks like regularly. Do we eat gluten free or vegan? Do I eat 6,000 calories a day? What do I eliminate, especially going into races? How strictly do we eat?
I always enjoy this topic because, while my husband Derick and I eat very healthy, we also eat balanced and we make it a goal to enjoy what we consume. To answer the above: No, we do not eat gluten-free. I’ve never tried eating vegan, but never had much of an interest. I did ‘think’ I was gluten-intolerant about 9 years ago when I was having some stomach issues. I eliminated my evening beer for a few days, then I came home one night with a 6-pk of beer in hand. Derick asked me what I was doing with it. My response was, “Yeah, I don’t think it’s the gluten.” (Some self-control, right? Turned out, I had gallstones and later had my gall bladder removed! Poof..stomach issues resolved!) I have no idea how many calories a day I eat; I don’t count them. I don’t eliminate anything, regularly or as I head into big races. I figure there are enough other stressors; no need to deprive myself of the things I enjoy (such as coffee, chocolate, ice cream and good beer); especially if I know they directly are not going to negatively impact performance. I would not say we are strict with our diet; but we eat ‘consciously’. I try to focus on assuring that I get enough calories, protein and good quality foods, especially after workouts; but at the same time I listen to my body and eat more when hungry and a bit less when I feel full. I’m a huge fan of fresh lemon in water, which I can sip on most of the day. One weakness I have is that I am a meal eater. I grew up in a family that ate 3 meals a day. I like to be hungry for meals, and enjoy them. I often don’t need a lot of snacks because often times, I’m wrapping up a workout right before a meal; so in lieu of a ‘recovery smoothie’, I often just go straight for a full meal. Derick and I often realize we probably eat healthier than we think, because any time we travel, we find we come home craving our usual staples; good coffee in the morning, a solid breakfast, avocado/veggie/turkey sandwiches for lunch, dark greens, salmon…and of course our favorite indulgences to stay balanced.
On this note, I wanted to share with y’all one of our favorite go-to dinners. Almost every night we have a massive salad, which includes some mixture of the following:
Dark greens (spinach, kale, and/or swiss chard) – Berries (often blueberries and raspberries) and/or Apple – Red onion – Nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds) – Quality cheese (fresh soft mozzarella or goat cheese) – topped with a vinegar based dressing and a creamier dressing (my favorites are Briannas Blush Wine Vinaigrette and Delmonico’s Ranch). I’ll always add beets if we have them cooked up. I love lots of color and variety among veggies, fruits, nuts and cheese.
Derick has affectionately termed these “Kelly Salads” and he would like to see me start selling them. I just see them as dinner! This is always ‘part’ of our meal, rarely the entire meal. We often make ‘quinoa bowls’, which include:
Quinoa (cooked in chicken broth to add flavor) – Chopped bell peppers – Garlic and onion – Chicken sausage (often a flavored kind, Aidells makes some great ones especially spinach and feta or habanero and green chili; Open Nature is very good as well) – topped with a bit of shredded cheese. And you can easily get creative with these; toss in tomatoes, black beans, avocado, or whatever else you prefer.
Of course, no lunch or dinner is complete to me without something sweet. After lunch it may be some sea salt dark chocolate (Lindt makes a great one and pretty inexpensive) or a chocolate chip cookie, and after dinner most nights I have a small bowl of ice cream. Actually, who am I kidding; every night I eat ice cream. My favorite is cookies and cream with some peanut butter mixed in.
When I begin to prepare dinner, I love to open a good beer, relax, and slowly start the preparation process; often after taking our pup for his evening play, it means the day is done, and whether it was good or bad; it’s time to put it behind you and settle in to the evening. While we often prepare simple meals, I find that after all the workouts and the ‘going’ all day long, the process of dinner prep is one of the most relaxing times of the day when Derick and I can turn on some good music, catch up and often talk about things non-triathlon related. When your husband is also your coach, this is something we both often crave!
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