I Eat Therefore I Run Revelations

I have been employing the I Eat Therefore I Run ‘philosophy’ for about three years now. Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t have a horrible diet at all, I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and a variety of balanced meals, but I do also enjoy my desserts, Pepsi, cheese courses, burgers, and other more sinful treats, all in moderation of course. After trying restricted healthy eating for a week in order to lose weight for my wedding, and driving myself crazy in the process, I took up running in an attempt to have my cake and eat it too.  Running at this time allowed me to continue to eat the foods I enjoyed while losing weight, and not even knowing about it! The shift from being sedentary to active dramatically changed my body in the months leading up to my wedding; so much so that when my wedding dress arrived in Scotland from Canada, about nine months after trying the same size on in the store, I had lost so much weight and inches that certain features on the dress, like it ‘gathering at my hips’ and being perfect length so that I didn’t need hemming, were only so because prior to this, my body was bigger. My wedding dress was in fact too long, and rather than gathering at my hips, it flowed straight over to them. I had successfully lost weight without caring at all about my diet, and needed to find a seamstress!


I’ve continued this I Eat Therefore I Run mentality, starting this blog and cooking and baking many incredible and delicious foods, but as you know from my previous post, my running has hit a plateau. I feel my eating and food choices have also hit a plateau. Basically, I want to become a smart healthy eater rather than simply a healthy eater. I want to learn more about the food I’m putting into my body, how it benefits my body and helps with my recovery, and how it helps strengthen my body and my mind. I’ve learned through running that eating bad foods translates into bad runs; unfortunately, I found this out the hard way on the most difficult five mile run ever, the day after eating fish and chips for dinner, washed down with 500mL of Pepsi. Basically I felt horrible and couldn’t finish the run.

Does this pertain?source
I didn’t feel cheap or easy, and I know I definitely wasn’t fast that day; all I knew was that I had had a revelation: eating crap food = crap runs. I didn’t want that anymore, so I’ve since not had fish and chips, and make sure I eat whole foods and balanced meals to give me good fuel for my runs. This was the first revelation.
The second revelation happened after watching Channel 4’s Secret Eaters, a show about obese people that claim to have a healthy diet full of fruit and veg (every single person on that show says it, and I know, I said it up top too), and can’t understand how they’ve become so large. Hidden cameras are set up in their homes, with their permission, to record their food habits over a week. These people are also followed by private investigators when they go out, who further document their poor food choices and habits. It’s a sensational show and in some ways, trashy reality TV in my opinion, but it’s full of very interesting facts on food choices, habits and caloric content. Like the people on the show, we assume that what we’re eating has lower caloric content than it actually does, and we also don’t take into account that tasting foods while we’re cooking it, or picking off other’s plates, also = calories. Every single person on the show is a secret eater, and has a total eye-opener when they watch their secret footage. What hit home for me was when they featured in two separate episodes, two people who were very active but couldn’t seem to shift the weight. Both would run (one was marathon training), bike, workout like crazy, then eat extremely fattening food, and/or large quantities of food, but couldn’t figure out why they were still the same size. After watching this, I now acknowledge that I too am a secreat eater.

 Yes, I’m active. Yes, I exercise regularly. And yes, I can eat a lot. Like these people, I would justify second-helpings, dessert, Pepsi, treats in general, with ‘I ran five miles today’. What a horrible excuse for over-eating! I only burn about 625 calories in a five mile run, so after a meal, even a non-indulgent one, I haven’t made much of an impact on my daily caloric intake with that run. Does this mean I’ll be calorie counting? Heck no! My eating needs to have purpose, and I need to listen to cues from my body rather than my mind. Instead of ‘I want that Pepsi’ I now think, ‘Do I want that Pepsi? Not really because I don’t like that sugary after taste in my mouth. You know what I want instead though? My favourite spritzer! (what we call fresh fruit juice diluted with sparkling water).’ Spritzer of less than 100mL of juice it is then! If I’m hungary, I eat; if I’m not hungry but rather bored, I do something to occupy my time. Making better choices about food.

The third revelation happened about a month ago, when I heard (or read – I can’t actually remember where I got this vital information) that eating complex carbohydrates makes you feel fuller longer, preventing you from grazing on convenience food or that sweet, bad treat that’s right in front of your face after a hard day of teaching in my case. I knew about carbs, but not complex carbs, so I did my research. It turns out that, like fats, there are good carbs and there are bad carbs. Good carbs are fruit and veg, and the complex carbs I’ve listed below. Bad carbs are the refined ones, full of white flour and white sugar; what some people call ’empty carbs’ as they have no nutritional value. This would be baked treats, sodas, white bread, white pasta, white rice, candy, pizza.
In some ways, I’ve struggled to cook sides for meals other than salad or potatoes, and it’s difficult to find a carb side dish that both my husband and I like. Learning about complex carbohydrates has totally changed that. Below are a list:
  • sweet potatoes
  • potatoes
  • parsnip
  • lentils
  • brown rice
  • nuts (natural)
  • root veg (beets, carrots, turnip, Jerusalem artichoke)
  • bananas
  • barley
  • beans
  • chickpeas
  • oats
  • corn
  • wholegrain cereals
  • wholegrain breads
  • wholegrain flour
  • wholegrain pasta                                                                                                 *source

Imagine the possibilities!!!!! A mash of sweet potatoes, parsnip, potatoes and carrots! Barley in soup (which is delicious)! Curried chickpeas! Wholegrain flour pizza crust! Made with wholemeal bread flour, one of nine flours I found in my cupboard this past weekend.

You know you’re serious about baking and cooking when…

 And the best of all? That ‘superfood’ quinoa. I’ve been very late to jump on the quinoa bandwagon, partly due to the fact that it’s barely sold in super markets in rural Scotland, and partly due to the ethics over it. While it is a delicious, versatile and incredibly nutritious seed, it does come with some hard-to-digest realities. The production of quinoa affects those living in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, where it used to be part of a staple diet but is now more expensive to buy than meat; instead, people are turning to foods high in refined sugar and flours, like Coke, pasta and junk food, because they’re now cheaper than quinoa. Trust the British media to completely sensationalise everything and make you feel horrible for even thinking about quinoa! Upon further investigation, I found this blog post that acknowledges these controversies but also brings to light the benefits quinoa sales have made to these Andean countries. Further, as stated in this article, while quinoa is still relatively new in the world stage in terms of sales and production, they could most likely turn out like potatoes, tomatoes and corn, which were all once regional foods grown through subsistence farming before eventually going global, (source). I was totally on the fence about quinoa and felt guilty for liking it, but now that I’ve done my research and found a company that sells quinoa grown in the Loire Valley in France, I will definitely be keeping it as part of our staple diet. It fulfills the ‘fuller-longer’ mentality, to the point that my husband, who is an avid carb eater, actually said he had put too much on his plate and couldn’t finish it. Success! And yes, you can expect quinoa recipes here in the future, but until then, have a look at this delicious Quinoa Tabbouleh:

Does this mean that I Eat Therefore I Run has gone totally healthy? In some ways, yes: eating food that’s good for you, being more sensible in your eating habits, and making smarter food choices will be shared by myself. In many other ways though, I’ll still be making the same delicious foods I’ve always made, but I’ll eat them in more responsibly-sized portions rather than pigging out to the point that I felt like I had a brick in my stomach because I’ve run four miles that day.

In the next few days, expect to see recipes for the following:

Slow-cooked pulled pork
Strawberry rhubarb shortbread slice
Apple Tarte Tatin
To leave you, I’ve included our current favourite healthy recipe. This was such a hit with Pat that he requested it be made again for our weekly menu planning. Enjoy!

Loaded-with-Vegetables Cassoulet
*Adapted from Runner’s World Complete Guide to Women’s Running, p. 153

Cassoulet is a French, slow-cooked casserole containing meat (pork sausages, mutton, duck) and beans. This is a more healthy take on the traditional dish, with chicken instead, and TONS of vegetables.

Why makes this so healthy? It’s loaded with vegetables, full of nutrients as we know, and obviously, the chicken has protein in it. Moreover though, leeks contain Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant (to help prevent disease), as well as Vitamin C, which helps boost your immune system. Finally, the cannellini beans contain a ton of fibre, which is good for your cholesterol and heart.

2 tbsp olive oil
500g chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
2 leeks or onions, sliced
2 carrots, cut into lengths
3 celery stalks, in 1/2 inch pieces
2 courgettes [zucchinis], in 1/2 inch pieces
salt and black pepper
2 tins chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 x 400g tinned cannellini beans, drained
500mL chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Heat oil in a large pan. Cook the vegetables for five minutes, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the tinned tomatoes, half the stock and herbs. Add your raw chicken to this mixture and stir. Bring to a boil. Add the beans and bring to the boil again, then turn down heat to let mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes, adding more stock if the mixture becomes dry.

3. Add the cayenne pepper about 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 generous portions.We serve ours in bowls with rocket (arugula) and parmesan sprinkled over top. Tomorrow night, we’re going to have this with feta cheese and whole wheat spaghetti.

Nutritious AND delicious

It may seem weird to add the raw chicken to the liquid and cooked vegetables, rather than cooking it first (or at least browing it). I find with this kind of braising method that the meat is softer and more tender to eat, rather than the harder consistency it would get with browing. It also makes the meat much nicer when you heat up your leftovers. I first used this method when making Jamie Oliver’s Chilli Con Carne, and much prefer it for stewing meats.

For a chicken chilli, instead of leeks, do red onions. Omit the herbs and cayenne pepper, and substitute 1 tsp+ each of cumin, cinnamon and chili powder. Add fresh coriander (cilantro) before serving. 

Have you recently changed the way you think about food?

What are your favourite healthy foods?
What one sinful food can you not live without?

Speed workout tonight of 12 x 90 sec. with 1 min rest between each. Woop!


6 thoughts on “I Eat Therefore I Run Revelations

  1. GREAT post! Your revelations are spot-on, and I especially like the first one. Good whole foods = good solid training (running, biking, etc.). I've always been a healthy eater, but since I've started ironman training, I now think of food as fuel to power me through my workouts.

    I'm with you on the quinoa. As with all food, it's important to eat responsibly and know where it comes from! I just wish quinoa sat better in my stomach (I love it, but it doesn't agree with me).

    The cassoulet looks amazing and cannot wait for the other recipes!

  2. Thank you! I think as well we get so used to eating healthy foods that they become what we love and crave, then it's really second nature.

    It seems for you quinoa IS literally hard to digest, that's a total shame!

    Other recipes will be coming, I need photo evidence first unfortunately, so that means we'll be making one meal this week.

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