Paying Attention to Food

Hi everyone.  This is Dan, guest-posting for Beth since she is currently up to her eyeballs in photo editing.  But don’t worry, she should be back tomorrow.

Soon after I met Beth, I realized that we definitely have different relationships to food, but that neither of us were eating healthily.  All of the guys in my family are pretty much clones of each other when it comes to body type – we’re all about 6’2” and 165 lbs or so, with a spread of maybe 1 inch and 10 lbs between all of us, so I’ve never had to worry about my weight.  However, that doesn’t mean that I was a healthy eater.  Basically, my relationship to food for much of my life was driven by laziness.  I hated thinking about what to eat or trying to decide how much to eat.  I wanted food to magically appear before me in the correct amounts.  Since this never seemed to happen, I sought out foods that didn’t require much effort to prepare (Eggo waffles, chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, etc.)  When quick, convenient stuff like that wasn’t around, I tended to put off eating until I got really hungry.  The result was that I wasn’t eating a nutritionally balanced diet, and I also found that sometimes I would get tired before I got hungry, so I wouldn’t have enough energy to get my workouts in. 

When I quit my job to focus on triathlons full time, I finally started to think more about what I was eating, and I started using sparkpeople to track it.  I quickly discovered two things:  1.  I was eating a lot of processed foods, not surprisingly, and 2. My calories were way, way low.  I needed about 6000 a day, and I was eating about 3500 or so.  It took a lot of effort to get into the habit of paying attention to what I ate, and it’s still a struggle.  It’s so much easier to put some chicken nuggets or popcorn shrimp into the oven or warm and serve a frozen pizza than it is to plan out a menu, go shopping, and prepare healthy, nutritious food.  Still, it seems like once I get into the habit, it gets easier.  On the flip side, once I miss a few days in a row, like when I’m traveling, I find it hard to get back into a rhythm.  In related news, it looks like we’ll be having popcorn shrimp for dinner.