We love a mince pie or a roast potato, don't get us wrong, but how do we maintain a balanced diet over the winter months?
First of all, we want to make it clear that you don’t need to feel guilty for enjoying all the lovely food that the festive season brings – even the most disciplined of runners should allow themselves a dip into the Quality Street tin. Moreover, feeling bad about this doesn’t solve anything – many of us resort to crash diets in the new year to try and compensate for enjoying our Christmas food and drink that don’t work in the long-term, and often only make us miserable.
But if you’re like us and are training for a big race over the winter months, you’ll know how much of an impact your nutrition can have on your running. It’s important to fuel yourself properly, and this can be tricky when so many of our seasonal recipes involve the same ladleful of mashed potato every night, but it’s totally possible strike a balance. We promise.
Here are a few tips to work some healthy foods into your winter meal plan.
1. Make it fun!
Sometimes we forget that eating healthily doesn’t need to be a boring task. Healthy eating can be diverse, colourful, tasty and exciting. Bright red and yellow peppers? Healthy. Funky spiralised courgetti stuff? Healthy. Spicy marinated tofu that you’ve never tried before? You guessed it – it’s healthy. Have fun and try new things, because variety is not only the spice of life but also the key to a balanced diet.
2. Set yourself a cooking challenge
This might not be for everyone, but if you’re a whizz in the kitchen then try giving yourself a tricky recipe to master or a new ingredient to use. Can you make a tasty meal using just five ingredients? Can you turn your favourite chicken dish into a vegan feast? Food tastes far better when you’ve put some love and care into it, in our humble opinion. Discovering a love for cooking is also a great way to replace expensive takeaways or ready meals that are so tempting during the short days of the winter months – why stick a katsu curry full of preservatives in the microwave if you can make one that’s ten times better yourself?
3. No time? Keep it simple
Another useful trick for the busier runners among us is to stock up on nutrition bars or powders. If you haven’t got time to prepare healthy food in advance and often find yourself buying a sausage roll or a quick pasty to fill you up (no offence, Greggs, we’ll always have a soft spot for your Yum Yums), then you might want to try mixing things up with a shake or bar. Jimmy Joy, for example, provide tasty shake powders that contain 26 essential vitamins and minerals. Some people find these useful as a meal replacement if they’re constantly on the go, and others may just find them a good way to top up their nutrition.
4. Remind yourself why healthy eating is important to you
Do you want to feel more energised? Do you want to run your very best 5K and need the right fuel? It’s totally okay to have moments where healthy eating seems boring or difficult or sad. Don’t put pressure on yourself – if you want to incorporate a healthier diet into your lifestyle then you’ll get nowhere by bullying yourself out of that packet of crisps. Take a breath, take the pressure off yourself, and remind yourself why you want to give your body the best possible balance of different nutrients. Still fancy the crisps? Go for it! Everything in moderation, as they say.
5. Be kind to your mind
As we mentioned in the last tip – don’t bully yourself. You are the reason that you’re taking care of your nutrition – because your body is brilliant and you want to look after it. Don’t subject yourself to a mental battle over everything you eat as it’s not fair on you. Enjoy the sweets, enjoy the salads – they’re both beneficial in different ways – and finding mental peace with a balanced diet will help you with consistency moving forward.
Check out some of our favourite healthy recipes here.