During my last appointment, my physician told me that I needed to stop eating like a teenage athlete and start eating healthy.
I am father to two teenage boys who both swim competitively. Their teenage metabolism coupled with many hours of swimming every week means they can eat as much as possible and still have trouble gaining weight.
But as an over-40, inactive, weekend warrior, I cannot eat the same way.
Just Because You Run, Doesn’t Mean You Can Eat Whatever You Want
And to compound the problem. I work from home. And this means when the kids come home after school before practice, they’re hungry and ready to eat anything and everything they can.
If I’m around, my willpower has its limits. And watching the kids eat tends to make me hungry. It’s not long before I’m eating a late-afternoon snack.
As a 40 year-old, just because you’re running doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. For me, an hour run will burn a decent amount of calories. But it’s pretty easy to eat those calories back if you’re not careful.
You can be especially susceptible to excess eating when you start a new running program. The exercise makes you hungry and there’s a feeling that you deserve a reward for all the extra activity.
Healthy eating almost feels like punishment after all the hard work running.
Eating Healthy Tips
Here are a few tips that I use to manage my eating:
- Eat on a regular schedule – Like anything else, eating becomes a habit. When you walk in the door. When you watch television. When you get bored. These can all trigger the desire to eat. Instead, create an eating schedule and keep to it. Whether you eat three meals per day or three meals and three snacks, eat the same number of calories at the same time every day.
- Stay away from unhealthy carbs especially early in the day – For most of us, eating carbohydrates tends to stimulate the appetite. Controlling your weight is about controlling the amount of food consumed. And appetite suppression is key to keeping your consumption under control. Reduce the unhealthy carbs in your diet (bread, pasta, snack food), and you’ll reduce your desire to overeat.
- Seconds, snacks, and sweets are my weakness – When I track my food consumption in a journal, most often it’s second helpings, snacking, and sweets that leads to excess calorie intake. These are empty calories not contributing to my daily energy needs. If I exclude these categories, my calorie counts remain right in line with my goals.
- Drink only moderate amounts of alcohol – Some will argue that you should not drink any alcohol if you’re trying to lose weight or you’re in training. That’s certainly an option, but it may not be for everyone. If you choose to drink, follow the guidelines of 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks for men.
- Stop eating or drinking anything with calories after 7pm – Your body doesn’t require much energy while you sleep. As such, there’s not a benefit to eating or consuming calories after 7pm. Again, calories consumed after this time are empty and just contribute to excess weight.
For many, running is a great way to keep your weight under control but you just need to be careful and thoughtful in your eating. Once you start eating healthy, you will immediately reap the benefits both in terms of weight management and athletic performance.
Readers, what are some of your tips for eating healthy? Do you find yourself getting more hungry when you’re exercising more?