“What do you eat?”
I get asked this question several times a week. I’ve also been asked “do you eat?” a fair amount, to which I can assure you that yes, I do, in fact, eat. I like food. A lot.
Before we go any further, let me stress the fact that I am not a nutritionist or a dietitian or anything else remotely qualified to give individualized dietary recommendations. If you’re wondering what you should be eating to meet your health goals, talk to your doctor or check out resources like Choose MyPlate or health.gov.
Now: What do I eat?
I believe in balance. I eat mostly clean, organic foods. I’m almost completely gluten-free (and admittedly, should be entirely gluten-free, based doctor recommendations), and mostly dairy-free. I do, however, still enjoy a cookie from time to time and if my grandma has made macaroni and cheese… Well, some things are worth the pain and sacrifice.
As for what I eat, let’s break it down a bit.
Breakfast is my favorite meal. I love breakfast food. If I could eat a Belgian waffle topped with whip cream and fruit or my mama’s biscuits and sausage gravy each and every morning without consequence, I would. But, I can’t. Not only because those aren’t the healthiest options, but also because who has that kind of time in the mornings? I workout at 6am most days of the week, and I have to be in the office by 8:30. Breakfast needs to be quick, healthy, and ideally, high in protein.
- Chia Pudding (chia seeds, almond milk, a scoop of protein powder, leave it in the fridge overnight, top it with berries, almonds and a dash of cinnamon in the morning)
- Protein shakes (chocolate protein powder, almond milk, a nut butter like almond or cashew is my favorite)
- Overnight gluten-free oats
- Egg and sausage casserole
In a pinch or for something different, I like the gluten-free Udi’s breakfast burritos topped with a bit of salsa.
Lunch is the meal I struggle with the most. I look for things that I can make and pack the night before, and that are mostly vegetables and proteins. A couple of my current meals in rotation:
- Kale, red cabbage, and carrot salad, topped with lean ground turkey, a bit of feta and walnuts, with lemon vinaigrette dressing.
- Turkey and zucchini patties with brown rice and steamed broccoli, topped with an organic tomato sauce
- Shredded chicken in lettuce leaves, topped with feta, salsa, and avocado
I rarely go straight home from work. Between barre, sessions at The Gym, Junior League, and my social calendar, I tend to get home a bit later. When I meal prep on Sunday nights, I like to have my dinner largely ready to go, so I just have to heat it up. Some favorite meals (recipes coming soon!) include:
- Moroccan Chicken
- Lime Chili Chicken
- Sweet Potato and Kale Salad
- Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas
I’m not a big snacker these days, but because of how active I am, I try to eat mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. My favorites:
- Plain Greek yogurt with berries
- A handful of almonds
- Green apple with almond butter
- Carrots and hummus
I’m also a big fan of MudHouse’s Power Balls, and RXbars. I’m somewhat infamous for forgetting to eat in the afternoons, so I set a reminder, especially on days like today when I’m going to The Gym for an upper body workout, then immediately leaving to teach an hour long barre class. I need that snack to fuel me.
Additionally, I drink water, and lots of it. And coffee. I drink more coffee than is strictly necessary, but if I have to have a vice, at least it’s a perfectly legal one. I don’t drink beer, mostly because I don’t like it, but also, gluten, but I’m not going to say no to a glass of wine. I gave up sodas over a year ago.
I also substitute out noodles for zoodles or spaghetti squash. The $14 vegetable spiralizer I bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond has turned out to be one of the greatest investments of all time. I love zucchini noodles, lightly sauteed in a bit of extra virgin olive oil. I went through a phase of seeing just what I could spiralize. A sweet potato? Works great. A cucumber? Pinterest lied.
The “what do you eat?” question is often followed by “but don’t you miss ____?”
Truthfully? No. Eating clean is such a normal part of my day-to-day now that I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not eating pizza or burgers on buns. In fact, I’ve found I don’t really like a lot of those foods these days. Don’t get me wrong – I still love a slice of pizza, it just doesn’t love me.
Now we have the answer to the “what do I eat?” question. I eat good food that agrees with and fuels my body. You’ve heard the “you are what you eat” adage, and its true – we are what we put into our bodies. There is study after study to prove it. Earlier this week, The Today Show even aired a segment on the correlation between what we eat and physical activity and its effects on Alzheimer’s and dementia. As someone with a close family history of not only Alzheimer’s and dementia, but a host of other diseases and conditions like diabetes and heart disease, it’s become important to me to make sure I’m choosing foods that are going to help me be the healthiest version of myself.
All this said, I also like cookies. And so, I have one or two on occasion.
Life is about balance – and the grace to allow yourself a cookie or a non-gluten-free cupcake from time to time.