I ate a salad today for lunch. For those of you that know me this is a pretty big deal. Today’s lunch consisted of spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and chicken.
To be blunt, I don’t like vegetables. I have never liked vegetables. I continue to try to eat vegetables but no matter how many times I’ve tried them, I still don’t like them. I have always been a picky eater and it’s definitely not by choice. Believe me, I would much rather be one of those people who would eat anything that was put in front of them. I am envious of the people who say they are craving a salad, love vegetables or even just get enjoyment from eating food. And it’s not just vegetables that I won’t eat. (It would probably be quicker to list the food I will eat). I have never had a good relationship with food and really, I think I would give up food if it were a possibility.
My day was not good and I’m chalking it all up to my lunch. I force fed myself that salad this afternoon, practically gagging with every bite. Needless to say I did not eat very much for lunch. Later in the afternoon I was really cranky and had a headache. I get that way when I don’t eat enough but my stomach was not feeling well after being forced to eat what it did. I managed to eat a few grapes and some greek yogurt a few hours after lunch and that helped a little.
I think trying to get my food habits under control will be one of my biggest challenges. As I get ready to start training for an Ironman I know how important it will be to fuel my body with healthy foods. I have always wanted eat a wider variety of foods or at least add a few more healthy foods to my diet, but no matter how many times I try, it never works. I’ve spent who knows how much money seeing dieticians, nutritionists and other health professionals. I’ve tried keep a food log; I’ve tried forcing myself to try new foods; I’ve bought so many different foods and tried new recipes and my garbage disposal ends up eating more of the food than I do. And the scary thing is that I am actually a little better than I used to be.
The primary motivator for most people to incorporate more healthy foods into their diet is for weight loss and I admit that I would be happy if weight loss were one of the side effects of this attempt to change my eating habits. I have been told in the past that I’m not eating enough, that I’m eating too much or that I’m working out too much and stressing my body. The one thing I do know is that it’s not lack of exercise that is causing me to gain weight! It seems everyone has a different opinion on what I should be doing and I really don’t know where to begin.
The main reason for this latest attempt at changing my eating habits is the Ironman training that I will be doing. I know that I will need to eat healthy foods if I expect my body to support the amount of training that I will need to do. But I know it’s going to be a challenge. The first time I tried training for the half-Ironman I was also seeing a nutritionist. I think one of the reasons my body failed during this training was because I wasn’t eating enough calories to support all of the training. During my first attempt to do the half-Ironman training I developed adrenal fatigue. My adrenal glands stopped producing the all the hormones I needed and my body basically shut down. I hardly had the energy to get out of bed for almost a year. Once I started feeling better and was finally able to start training again, I decided to make sure I was fueling my body and just eating enough food. Right now the only way I know how to do this is by not worrying about what I’m eating and to just eat what I want when my body says it’s hungry. When I do that, I don’t always choose the healthiest foods though. This strategy obviously worked to some extent because I finished my race but I know choosing healthier foods will help me recover more quickly and feel better throughout my training. I’m really afraid that if I start focusing on the foods I’m eating again I will stop eating enough and I won’t be able to get in the calories I need to do my training successfully. I don’t want that to happen again.
I wrote most of this post during lunch and it was been one of the most difficult posts I’ve written so far. I was on the verge of crying just thinking about my relationship with food and having to try to change my eating habits. I honestly don’t like the foods. It’s not that I’m stubborn and just choose to not to eat them; I physically have to force myself to eat them and feel sick to my stomach the whole time. I wish I had a wider variety of foods from which to choose. I want to enjoy eating healthier foods. I want people to think I’m crazy because I crave vegetables and not because I never eat them. But right now, if given the choice between eating a salad and not eating a meal, more often than not I would choose to just not eat. That’s how hard it is for me to eat some of these foods. When I say I don’t like them I’m not exaggerating. I was really frustrated this afternoon and was ready to feed the veggies to the garbage disposal. After finally eating some real food for dinner and getting a little perspective on the situation I realized maybe I bit off more than I could chew for this attempt at healthy eating. I didn’t go out and run a marathon the first day I started running so why would I decide to eat a whole bowl of vegetables for my first “healthy” meal? I can start by taking baby steps. I don’t think raw spinach has much flavor so I added some to my sandwich tonight. I can blend in a few small pieces of broccoli or cauliflower into my smoothie in the morning. I can make an effort to pull out my juicer again and start juicing my veggies. There are small things I can do everyday to add just a few vegetables into my diet. Right now I’m lucky if I get five servings of vegetables a year so just doing a little more every day is better than nothing. I used to hate going to the gym and now I’m doing some sort of workout just about everyday… Maybe some day I won’t hate eating vegetables.