Thursday, February 20, 2014

The 90% Rule of Healthy Eating

I've been reading a lot about nutrition, more specifically about making good nutritional choices - most notably 1200 Calories, The Truth About Being Healthy, and What Goes in the Piehole.  Like most people, my nutritional journey is a work-in-progress.

Truth is, I grew up eating healthier than most people.  My mom was constantly claiming that fruit tasted exactly like candy.  She made bread from scratch.  We had fruit and/or vegetables with every meal - nearly all of which were homemade.  We ate out no more than once a week, and I could probably count, on one hand, the number of times I ate fast food a year growing up.  Since we didn't eat a lot of meat at home, I knew from a young age what "whole protein" meant and why eating a variety of foods, both during the day and from day to day was important.  Vegetables don't scare me and there are few, regularly available, fruit I have not eaten.

My nutritional foundation is solid.

This does not mean that I always eat a perfect diet.  Or even close to perfect diet.  

Here's the thing about eating healthy...  Even for someone like me, who has had a lifetime of exposure to it, it still isn't easy.

My text to a friend from tonight (2/20/14) - ah, the beauty of supportive friends. ;)
Sometimes Taco Bell just sounds good (and yet I never text anyone about how much I want a salad).

I've spend hours of my life talking myself out of running out the door and grabbing whatever XYZ "delicious" thing I'm currently obsession about that is cheap and easy and always available - and on the DO NOT EAT list.  I've also spent nearly as many hours angry at the world that *I* can't eat those things and look or perform like the athlete I want to be but he/she/they can eat or drink whatever they want - and that is so effing unfair!!!

Life is effing unfair.  It's the truth.

Most of the time I try to eat by the 90% Rule.  Good, healthy, whole foods for 90% of the time, the other 10%?  I don't worry about it.  *But* like many athletes coming out their "off-season," that 90% has slipped to more like 60-65% and its time to rein it back in.  More fruits, vegetables, and home-cooked meals, less late night dinners out of burgers, fries, chicken tenders, quesadillas, and the occasional beer.   Additionally, I've been trying to stay away from grains on a whole, not because I necessarily think they are evil - plenty of people are already doing that - but because I am conducting an "experiment of one."

Enter daydreaming about Taco Bell.

The way I saw it, I had 3 choices:
  1. Go get Taco Bell.
  2. Make something that sounded like a reasonable alternative
  3. Go to bed without dinner
By time I was planning dinner I was already in my pjs and comfortably lounging at home.  Taco Bell sounded good, but having to go out to my car and go GET it did not.  Option 3 nearly won out simply out of laziness.  In a last ditch effort to not eat crap or wake-up in the morning starving, I checked my cabinets one last time for options...

Beans went from the can, to a pan on the stove and Black Bean Burritos for dinner were in the works.

 A quick trip to the garden for lettuce added to the rest of the fillings - cabbage, carrots, pepper jack cheese, avocado and radishes.

My family makes 1200+ quarts of salsa every July.  There is no other salsa like it on the planet.  

And voila!  A suitable alternative to Taco Bell was born in 15 minutes flat (And I enjoyed as much, if not more).  

Would it have been the end of the world had I jumped in the car and gone to Taco Bell?  Of course not!  But when I'm trying to get closer to the 90% Rule, I can think of many other things I'd rather use my 10% on than Taco Bell!  I also ate grains when I said I'm trying to avoid them - who cares!  I basically ate a salad on a tortilla!  With homemade salsa!  And homegrown lettuce!  INSTEAD OF TACO BELL!!  Who is not going to call this a win for healthy, whole-foods nutrition?

So today I saved my 10% some another time.  It doesn't always play out the same way, which is fine.  Sometimes I enjoy dinner with friends without caring about what is on my plate, I never even think about it because the laughter and times shared are important too.  Sometimes I stop at the grocery store and buy a single peanut butter cookie - because I want to. 

If anything, I'm learning that my nutrition is a work-in-progress, experiment-of-one - and it keeps evolving.  Completely eliminating foods from my diet only makes crazy, but sometimes there are suitable alternatives that don't leave me hating the world and all its unfairness.  I'll save my energy for Ironman.

1 comment:

Brooke said...

love this approach!
i'm working toward cleaning up my eating. i want the 10% of the time to be enjoyable, not out of laziness