Wife of Sean Williams, Cindy has been a competitive runner for around 25 years. She has represented Australia on multiple occassions on the World Mountain Running Championships and has come top 10 in the City To Surf. She is passionate about nutrition for runners and has great ideas on how to improve performance through a healthy diet.
To Make Dietary Improvements, Start With…Keeping A Food Diary
For those who don’t know me, I am Sean’s wife Cindy. I don’t run at group training sessions as often as I would like, but I absolutely love my running and supporting Sean in SWEAT Sydney. Luckily for me, we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary in May of 2014, which means that I have gotten to know a lot of elite and non-elite runners over the years. Sean is the master of the sessions, but I love to write and talk about the ‘other things’ that influence a runner’s life – and performances.
My goal for this section of the site is to cover a number of nutrition-related topics that will help you achieve your running goals. Anyone who has met me for more than 30 seconds knows that I love a chat, so I want to hear your feedback, suggestion, comments, experiences – and even what you disagree with.
There is no shortage of information around on diet, nutrition, weight and performance. I am not a trained nutritionist, but I do know about change management and positive psychology. This column will not tell you whether or not high-carb, low-carb, clean eating, low sugar, intermittent fasting, sugar free and/or vegan diets are the answer for you. Rather, I want to raise some ideas about how you can figure out what eating regime works best for your individual physiology and circumstances. Once you have figured that out, how to implement those changes consistently is the next step.
I am sure that some of you already have a general idea of what you want to change, or what you could be doing differently with regard to your eating habits. You will have the greatest chance of making changes if you do the following:
- Assess your nutritional life right now.
- Create a vision of how you want to be eating, or how you want to feel about your eating habits.
- Explore the options to achieve #2.
- Create a plan.
- Implement the plan.
- Monitor and figure out why the plan doesn’t always work or what needs to be changed with the plan.
- Celebrate success!
In the coming weeks we will discover how to achieve this.
So, to ‘assess your nutritional’ life right now, I encourage you to keep a food diary for a minimum of three days.
Food diaries can also change your eating habits almost immediately, because they (should) make you think about everything that you put into your mouth. Are you going to swipe some lollies from your co-workers desk when you know that means you will have to write it down?
Keeping a food diary can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. It needs to be convenient because it is easy to forget to do. For many people, this could mean keeping it in a ‘note’ on your iphone. Or you could download an app if you think that the novelty would inspire you to use the app diary. Or you could take a photo of EVERYTHING you eat – as long as you don’t dare fill up my Facebook newsfeed with pictures of your meals….
- Do it for a minimum of three days, including one weekend day.
- Remember to include quantities. Estimate if you have to, but don’t lie to yourself. You know the difference between a small muffin that you baked yourself and a massive ‘cake-muffin’ from your local café.
- Do it immediately! Trust me, you will not remember everything at the end of the day – especially if you are a grazer.
- Drinks count, in some cases, a lot. Those 3 large lattes a day could explain why you can no longer get your SKINS on….
- You might want to set your watch to beep on the hour to remind yourself to write down if you have eaten or drunk anything.
- Feel free to include other comments such as ‘famished’, ’not hungry’, ‘bored’; ‘felt bloated afterward’.
At the end of three days of consistent and truthful journaling, ask yourself the following questions:
- What was I uncomfortable about writing down?
- What did I like seeing?
- What is one change that I want to make?
The next column will focus on how we can make those changes!