What the Heck IS ‘Clean Eating’, Anyway?!?

Clean Eating

When I first started running and losing weight again nearly two and a half years ago I used my old tried-and-true methods of heavy restriction, fat-free foods, and heavy intake of fruits and vegetables. But as I started rapidly ramping mileage, it became clear I needed more fuel – and the problem peaked when I really bonked hard in the second half of my first half-marathon.

But I really had no idea what I was doing … but I knew that I needed to focus on increasing my intake at breakfast and lunch, as well as healthy snacking throughout the day. Here was my approach:
– Focus on getting loads of fruit at breakfast, but also plenty of protein through nut butters.
– Eat a lunch heavy on fruits and vegetables, again ensuring plenty of protein.
– Have fruit and nuts at my desk for snacks – pistachios have been my choice 90% of the time.
– Try new things I was reading about like Quinoa, Flax, and so on.
– No ‘protein bars’, processed foods, pre-made drinks, etc.

My diet when running has always veered towards heavily fruit & veggie based, but for whatever reason this time as I ramped my weekly mileage from 15 or so to the 40+ it has been for more than 2 years, I have had no desire for processed foods, breakfast cereals, packaged snacks, or whatever else. Sourdough pretzels were about the only pre-made snack I had any desire to eat.

What I didn’t realize for more than a year after I started was that I was embodying the hot new trend called ‘clean eating’.

I had never heard the term until after I started my blog last fall and came upon it checking out someone else’s posts, and came to realize that it wasn’t just about washing your foods and making sure your hands were clean before coming to the table.

So what IS ‘clean eating’ and why should we as runners care?

Here is a description from Eating Well Magazine:

Eating clean is a good way to refresh your eating habits: it’s about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats. And since you don’t have to count calories or give up whole food groups, it’s easy to follow.

So basically, it is the same thing that was called ‘eating healthy’ in the 70s back before the food industry perverted that with all of the artificial sweetener and HFCS-laden ‘fat free’ food.

Looking at the list behind the Eating Well article, as well as similar ones at CNN, Cooking Light, Prevention, I saw a pretty common set of thoughts:

1. Eat Whole, Natural Foods and Limit or Eliminate Processed Foods

The general rule is that if you cannot see the main ingredients when looking at the product, it is not a ‘clean’ or ‘natural’ food source. Generally if it is made in a factory it is suspect (even ‘natural’ products), and definitely products that should be refridgerated but don’t require it are highly processed. There are many guidelines people use such as ‘no more than 6 ingredients’, or ‘if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it’, or if the chemical diagram looks like an elaborate cave drawing … maybe you should just pass.

While there are a number of other things on the list, for me everything keys off of this one: because reshaping a fully loaded diet without all of that boxed and packaged crap will pretty much require you to carve your path through ‘clean eating’ territory.

2. Increase Your Intake of Vegetables

While I don’t necessary believe in the ‘limitless fruits and veggies are OK’ – mostly due to my own history with eating and limits – I do think that when you fill your diet with the amazing variety of fresh (and frozen) veggies available at pretty much every modern grocery store, you will have delicious meals that are great for you.

When I was a kid, parties at relatives had celery loaded with cream cheese, and more recently they have been used as carriers for creamy salad dressings often loaded with both saturated fats AND HFCS. Skip all of that and either eat them raw or with some hummus (about the easiest thing in the world to make with a food processor).

3. Cut Down (but do NOT eliminate) Saturated Fats

But load up on healthy fats. Saturated fats are often found in processed foods, but are also found in butter, cheese and not-lean meats. Healthy fats come from minimally-processed plant oils, nuts and nut butters, avocados, and so on.

So how do you cut down on saturated fats? First off, choose leaner cuts of meats, avoid processed meats (like deli meat, reducing this will also help with salt and help you limit processed ingredients), use the grill or broiler, and so on.

BUT … there is new evidence that blaming saturated fats is all wrong, that eating it in moderation can help ward off strokes and diabetes. I look at it this way – keep the intake of fats under control, and focus more on getting fats from things like nuts and avocados that deliver multiple benefits rather than just through oils or butter/ghee.

4. Reduce Alcohol Intake / Don’t Drink Your Calories
This is a two-fold recommendation. We all know that sugary drinks – soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, etc – are a bad idea because they dump loads of sugar and calories into your system. The goal is to get most hydration through water, or perhaps unsweetened tea. Don’t use those ‘chemical soup’ drops – get a fruit infuser and make your own delicious fruit flavored water.

Alcohol is beneficial in moderation – 1-2 drinks per day at most – but too much dehydrates you and adds loads of calories. Fruity mixed drinks in particular cross lots of boundaries on this list. I’ll stick with my glass of red wine and be happy! 🙂

5. Avoid Added Sugars

If you have ever eaten a full meal with someone who has just come from China or some other Asian countries for the first time, aside from ‘portion shock’, you will hear that the desserts are unedibly sweet … but it is what we have been brought up with for the last half-century. Cake frosting, donuts loaded with sugar, ice creams, and so on … we love our sweet-treats! Cutting down on these – particularly anything you don’t make yourself – is a step in the right direction.

But it goes beyond that – I know many folks love their Starbucks … and not just a cup of black coffee or tea like I tend to get! Over vacation my younger son made several Starbucks trips and got huge frozen Mocha Frappuccino drinks with tons of sugar and whipped cream. One of those has 500 calories, and 26% of your daily fat and 29% of carbohydrate recommended values.

6. Control Your Salt Intake, and Use Other Natural Seasonings

Salt in excess can mess with your blood pressure, and added salt is something I gave up 30 years ago completely. My Dad had a heart attack (yeah, unrelated I know) and there were blood pressure issues in my family, so BAM, gone.

If you have eliminated most processed and refined foods, you will suddenly have much less added salt in your system. And when you are cooking, a little salt added along with a combination of fresh (at this time of year) or dried herbs will do much more for flavor than bland foods with salt and pepper dumped on them!

7. Choose Whole Grains

Whole grains include more nutrients than refined grains because the bran and germ are not removed. My rule is generally the ‘can I see it’ mantra, but that isn’t absolute. I have been leery of ‘whole grain’ claim on bulk cereals, store breads, and so on – because for a long time the FDA rules have been lax on companies refining and reconstituting the grains in a certain way to pass the definition of

Refined foods in general lose many of the nutrients we need and should care about getting. Rather than worrying about whether it is ‘whole grain’, seek out things like whole steel-cut oats, brown rice, flax, chia, and quinoa. Aside from being absolutely delicious (ok, my family would debate me on quinoa falling into that category!), they are healthy and whole sources and full of nutrients.

8. Eat Less Meat

I used to buy a 1.5lb steak for Lisa and I to split before we had kids – I would eat about a pound, whe would eat 8oz. Basically the two of us were eating *8* servings of meat! So my comment here isn’t to remove meat from your diet, but to normalize portions. This helps limit saturated fats as well. In our house with two large teenage boys it is hard to balance, but we work to keep portions under control … also use non-meat protein sources.

Things like beans and legumes are a great way to increase protein intake using sources without so much ‘baggage’ – with meats we need to worry about feed sources, GMO of feed, grazing and humane treatment, and so on.

9. Increase Fruit Intake

Similar to veggies, eating whole, natural fruits in season are just amazing in terms of the flavor, nutrients, fiber and juiciness delivered in a portable package!

The two ‘watch-outs’ are juices and dried fruits. Buying bottled juice is a problem because you lose all of the fiber and it changes the glycemic index – I wrote about this last fall, saying “Juicing not only destroys a number of fruits’ beneficial compounds and antioxidants, it removes nearly all of the natural fiber. Suddenly you have all of the sugar and none of the fiber … which takes fruit from ‘super food’ to ‘danger food’!”

As for dried fruit, things like banana chips are fried (and loaded with fat) and pineapple chunks are havens for added sugars; for better options stick with dried apples, plums (prunes, which I actually love), sundried tomatoes, and raisins.

10. Eat More, Smaller Meals and Healthy Snacks

This is another one of those items that has been proclaimed as the ‘next big thing’ in weight loss, then debunked, and now rises again as a way to maintain a ‘clean eating’ lifestyle.

The thought is this – by not overstuffing, you reduce the risk of skipping meals; and by not allowing too much time to pass you reduce the risk of overeating at your next meal.

Also, by eating a more moderate amount more often, you are keeping your blood sugar levels steady so energy doesn’t fall off during the day.

11. Balance Macronutrients at Each Meal

If you have a bowl of cereal with strawberries and some coffee for breakfast and feel full … don’t be surprised if you are hungry by 10AM. Why? You are lacking in protein. Most people eating the ‘standard American diet’ do this, and especially for athletes it is a very bad idea. That is because protein is an important muscle builder … and also why in spite of not being a fan of supplements I definitely understand people supplementing with a protein shake during the day!

Lisa has always been excellent at this – she hates being hangry by 10AM so builds breakfasts loaded with protein; in fact, she has always been great at developing balanced meals – and I have learned so much through the years!

12. Include Physical Activity in Your ‘Diet’

This one I thought was odd, but it shows up enough in these lists that it is worth noting. My context is this – you have taken steps to get your diet right, and for a reason: you want to feel better and be more healthy. Getting physical activity helps to burn more energy, reduce fact, build and strengthen muscles, help keep your heart and lungs healthy and even aids your bones and joints!

Bottom line – eating ‘clean’ is an investment in yourself … seal the deal by keeping active!

Other Resources

There are more great articles (pro AND con) here, here, here and here. I also found a great set of articles compiled at Gracious Pantry, and while I don’t necessarily agree with everything in all of the linked articles … it is a great resource that is loaded with info.

There is even a Clean Eating Magazine!

Why Does This Matter for Runners?

The mantra ‘food is fuel’ is just SO important if you want to get and stay healthy and get the most out of your running (or any activity, really). Knowing what is ‘in your fuel’, to continue the analogy, is critical. And once you get this mindset, clamping down on your choices is a natural (if not always easy) progression.

Looking at the history of the term, it comes from the 90s when there was a backlash against all of the added crap, and makers of more processed foods sought to ‘clean up’ their ingredient lists. THAT in turn came from the 60s and 70s when there was a backlash against the ‘convenience food’ industry pushing processed meals as ‘the future’. Over time, it migrated to people talking about their eating habits; we seek to ‘clean up’ what we are stuffing into our faces.

So … Why Bring This Up?

As I mentioned yesterday, I am at least 200 blog posts behind in my email, and I have no clue now many more between Twitter, BlogLovin’ and WordPress. But in a couple of posts and comments on different blogs I saw the words ‘clean eating’ tossed about like a meaningless buzzword, and also used like a hammer to beat down people and declare something as ‘truth’.

As I said before, ‘clean eating’ is not new, but rather stems from the general movement towards healthier eating habits. There is no absolute right or wrong way to do this, no ‘clean eating’ police … it is just something many of us try to do for our health and fitness benefit.

What Do You Think About the Term ‘Clean Eating’ and What Sorts of Habits do YOU Follow?

Running into the Headwinds of Life, Abs Challenge, and Three Films

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Image Source

As I was out running on Sunday there was a strong wind blowing into me most of the time – it seemed to shift just to oppose me. Because it was warm it helped keep me cool, but it was strong enough to make my run harder. As I was heading home I was thinking of those headwinds as a metaphor. Or maybe I was thinking of metaphors after crying my way through watching ‘The Fault in Our Stars’. Whatever …

Running into the Headwinds of Life

I mentioned that my first run in the new Saucony Kinvara 4 was on Thursday … evening. If you follow this blog at all you know that an evening run is rare, very rare. It happens, sure – just not often. Thursday was one of those days I had given up on – I slept in, ready to take a rest day.

But Thursday late afternoon I left work a bit early to sit home and deal with our health insurance. We had a few bills stacked up, and even a couple of dental bills when all we’d done is basic check-ups. I was on the phone more than TWO HOURS between dental and medical and ‘claims specialists’ and the obligatory couple of ‘hold disconnects’. Given how basically healthy the four of us are, all of those little deductibles and co-insurances and New York’s huge medical bill taxes add up quickly.

Going for a run doesn’t change the money we have to pay, nor the reality of our health coverage and how it penalizes hospital usage just as more of the doctor offices in the area combine with hospital labs to save money … no it doesn’t alter that stuff at all. Nor is it ‘running away’ – the issues have been dealt with, now it is a matter of paying the bills and filing appeals in a couple of cases.

My run was a way for me to clear my head, to get in my exercise for the day, and to just take the time to get my ‘mental house in order’. I released all of the stress and frustration in what has become a great source of ‘active meditation’ for me.

Similarly Laura (I actually stole ‘active meditation’ from her) shared her frustration dealing with insurance and a bank … and live-blogged another run. She discusses how she was THIS close to a food binge – something that when she said it I felt in the pit of my stomach. I haven’t had one or wanted one in the last couple of years, but it is something that I fear – both as the event itself and how I would likely have an extreme counter-reaction.

My point is that it is important to develop these coping skills – I am lucky that I also had an amazing date night Friday and weekend with Lisa that was just so close and connected and wonderful.

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The 30 Day Ab Challenge

I decided to do Megan’s 30-Day Ab Challenge … which of course starts today!

Today’s challenge? 20 reps each of:
– Crunches
– Bicycle crunches
– Scissor kicks
– Leg raise
– Hip lifts

Then a 1 minute plank (I chose ‘intermediate’ like a fool). Which is amazingly hard for something that looks so easy. Ugh … now I get to do it all again tomorrow!

10 Day You Challenge

OK, so now I am up to Day 8, and the theme is Three Movies. Lisa and I had a great chat, and she fairly quickly nailed my top three, then we went through each other’s top 10. For me, the Top 5 would round out with ‘Better Off Dead’ and ‘Willie Wonka’ (the real one). Then comes things like ‘2001’, ‘Close Encounters’, ‘Apocalypse Now’ and some Woody Allen stuff. But I had to choose just three! So here goes …

Day Eight: Three Movies

1. Star Wars – For me, Star Wars is an obvious choice. It is amazing to think that in 1977 a movie would stay in the theater long enough to see it a year later. And I did – I saw it a dozen times in theaters between 1977-78, using paper route money and taking the bus to the mall with friends. The movie sparked the imagination of a generation, and took me right with it!

2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Lisa thought maybe this would be ‘Dirty Harry’, but she knew it was Eastwood. But this movie is more than just Clint – it is a movie with the first 10 minutes having no dialogue, with a good guy who really isn’t. With moral conflicts as well as gunfights, and an intricate plot line that is unlike so many typical Westerns (I am actually not a fan of westerns).

3. Real Genius – Substitute sun for snow and you have my college years, to an extent. I built a laser for a senior project, and so much of what was going on I really identify with. Funny, great music, and just a generally cool all-around movie that eschews the easy paths of so many teen-focused movies.

What are YOUR favorite movies, and how does exercise help you deal with the curves life throws at us all?

Sunday Runday, Paleo Guest Post #2, Weekly Recap and my ‘Four Books’

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Happy Sunday! This weekend has been gorgeous, and as Harold notes the great weather has spread throughout the northeast, which has made for excellent running conditions and also made doing ANYTHING outside much more fun! I hope you have been taking advantage of the great conditions – if the weather has been favorable for you!

Paleo Journey Part 2 at The Gluten Free Treadmill

On Friday Laura posted the first part of my ‘Paleo Journey’ guest post, which got some excellent comments.

Today completes the series, and hopefully provides some context around how Paleo relates to ‘eating in the real world’. Like so many other things, it is about finding what works for you and going with it! I think our diet will largely be ‘modified Paleo’ for the foreseeable future.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

My Running Summary

This was a bit of an odd week, as after my killer hills on Sunday I decided to take Monday off and really just let the remainder of the week go by feel. I had two mornings in a row where I slept in, but then ended up with evening runs. Of course, the temperature was about 70F and dry, so 5PM was very bearable. Let’s look at how I did:

Sunday: 12.5 miles of ‘hill repeats’ – exhausting and awesome all at once
Monday: Rest Day – end of the ‘RW streak’
Tuesday: 9.5 miles
Wednesday: 9 or so miles for National Running Day
Thursday: 8.75 miles after work (first Saucony Kinvara run)
Friday: 9.25 miles after work
Saturday 10.5 miles on the Catharine Valley Trail

I was surprised to total up my week and see I had done just over 59 miles. I was quite ready on Monday for this week to end up in the 40s, which would have been fine – but instead I kept the miles going … but did it on my terms. My schedule was favorable to get in a couple of evening runs as I noted – something that barely ever happens. Take it where you can get it.

I also really loved my trail run on Saturday. Sara had a guest post on trail running (from Jenny of Jenny’s Fitness). The Catharine Valley trail has an entry point just 10 minute drive from my house … no more excuses.

10 Day You Challenge

OK, so now I am up to Day 7, and the task is to name four books. Oh great – no pressure: just name four books that are meaningful and provide some context on who I am and what I think. Ugh – I have read and loved thousands of books through the years. High school I was loving Sartre and Camus and Dostoevsky and Heller … since then I have read pretty much everything from Zahn’s classic Star Wars EU trilogy to Naipaul and loads of YA stuff (sorry Slate, but I love Harry Potter and Divergent and Fault in Our Stars).

One of the last books I eliminated from the list was ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce. That book is a double edged sword – noting it immediately sounds pretentious, but it is a book I really love. I’d read it in high school, but have great memories re-reading it while traveling for work on my first job and sitting in a small restaurant on a warm day soaking in sun and reading. Oh well, here is the list:

Day Four: Seven Wants

1. ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut – this book I would call my all-time favorite. Like most Vonnegut works it is a fairy easy and quick read – deceptively so. I have read this book 20 or more times since around 1980, and I don’t think I have read it the same way twice: it is funny, bitter, sardonic, twisted, anti-government, anti-religion, pro-spirituality, pro-human, both pro- and anti-science, and so more. I cannot recommend it enough.

2. ‘Foundation Trilogy’ by Isaac Asimov – while like so many sci-fi series there is a ton that this trilogy gets wrong, so much that has been changed as technology advances … the human side of the stories and the thrilling chase and mystery aspects are all consistent with what could really happen. It is interesting to juxtapose some of the events of these books with some anti-science movements in our own country today.

3. ‘100 Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Getting through this book the first time early in high school is something I still remember (not assigned, just pleasure reading my sophomore English teacher thought I would like) – the sweeping story of a town as it rises and falls, told through the history of a single family, if funny and sad and touching and engaging throughout. It really is an epic piece of modern literature, and I always love stepping back into that world.

4. ‘Night Watch’ by Sergei Lukyanenko – these books by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko captures great character studies and tales of the human spirit in the context of magic and mystery, all set in post Cold War Moscow. The series has ups and downs, but having just re-read the first couple I was reminded of how well it mixes intriguing storytelling and quality writing.

How was YOUR running week? How about your eating? And any books you’d like to share?

Six for Saturday – Saucony Kinvara 5, Polar Loop, and Five Foods

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On Wednesday I talked about stopping my running streak – and the comments were all very positive and supportive. Over these past couple of weeks I have had the word inspirational used to describe me .. which already makes me uncomfortable. But my concern with my LAST running streak was that it did make for a good story, and I know a few people who did later streaks, some ended up fine and others wonder if it resulted in their injuries. Which all brings me back to my ‘Five Reasons Never to Take Fitness Advice From Me’ post. Yeah … still true.

Anyway, I have a few (mostly) running related items and my ‘Five Foods’. So let’s get started!

1. Saucony Kinvara 5

As you might have seen since I posted before and after pics on Instagram, I got a pair of Saucony Kinvara 5 for review this week. They are awesome … oh, you want more details?

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The Kinvaras are highly regarded lightweight 4mm drop shoes, which are very popular because they are both light and well cushioned. The fit on the first few models seemed to fit most runners – but then the Kinvara 4 came along and there were many complaints about the toe-box. Even my pair – which lasted over 1300 miles – shows considerable wear at both ends of the toe-box.

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The Kinvara 5 addresses that and pretty much any other complaint. In fact, the entire toe box has been reshaped (if you can see it in the picture above. The rear ankle padding has had the contour removed without reducing the cushion, the overall feel is more cushioned, they are still incredibly light, and extremely well fitting and comfortable. I’ve only done two runs so far … but these are definitely some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn – and it is like meeting up with an old friend who looks even better with age.

2. Polar Loop

Yesterday I (finally) got the Polar Loop after a whole series of mix-ups and miscommunications that has had the heart-rate monitor part sitting on my counter for three months! Anyway, I got it all set up and configured, I took it on my run with me. My first thought?

Having to permanently cut a wrist strap was really stressful – especially since my first cut went through one of the pin-channels. Fortunately I intentionally under-cut the first time just to be sure. I ended cutting more this morning and now the fit is perfect … for me.

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Quick thoughts:
– Love the wireless sync to the phone
– Not a huge fan of the display – it is useless in sunlight as the LEDs wash out and the time-out is rather fast for activating and then shading … not an ‘on the go’ solution
– The iOS app and PC software is solid, but doesn’t match up with Garmin app Lisa uses for the VivoFit and the site I use for the FR-15
– Also love the easy charge-sync cable
– Not a fan of the ‘cut-to-fit’ thing – if I did it for Lisa, no one else in the house could wear it. Since it fits me it would fit Chris and could be cut for Lisa, but would be too small for Danny.

So … my overall impression is solid but given the choice I would buy the Garmin VivoFit again for fitness tracking. However, I have not tried the heart-rate monitor integration. So that will be an interesting test.

3. The Importance of Taking Care of Yourself

One thing I always talk about is safety – and that includes hydration and fueling. Being caught unready to handle a situation due to too much exercise and too little food and water is very dangerous.

Over at Runblogger, Pete linked to a post from his coach about the time that he fainted in what was really a totally avoidable situation. But the way he describes it is something that we should all reflect on:

1. No matter the run, immediate re-fueling and re-hydration is essential. This was already a rule, but I ignored it on the day.
2. Pre-run nutrition needs to be better. If you’re going to run 19 miles in a day, you can’t go into the afternoon run with a calorie deficit.
3. Don’t be so stubborn. Real life does impact running, and sometimes you need to slow down and realize that being tired has an impact on your body.

4. Anniversaries of Historical Importance

This week marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the 25th anniversary of the Tian’anmen Square standoff. I loved the takes on both of these important milestone’s at Carina’s blog – and really, you should check out each of those links. I wasn’t around for D-Day (my parents were only 2 and 4 years old), but I remember Tian’anmen Square well.

5. Is Being ‘Fat’ Not So Bad After All?

Admittedly I am not a huge fan of this article in general, because it basically comes down to mostly being yet another ‘my BMI says I am overweight, but I am very healthy, so everything you’ve read is wrong’ story. But along the way he highlights (through links) some important things – mostly that BMI is largely useless as a metric as it only alters the weight equation by adding height without taking body type into account.

A few things of note:
– Most of his points relate to being ‘overweight’ – obesity remains incredibly bad for you.
– Being overweight is MUCH better health-wise than being underweight.
– For someone who is overweight, social stigma and shaming and discrimination are the biggest problems.
– Perfect health is a complete myth.

Again, I have a load of mixed feelings, but definitely have seem many people online who are underweight and have dealt with injuries and other chronic health issues as a result. This week Amy posted a great article about when she realized she was too skinny, and includes before and after pictures … it is an amazing post with some great comments.

6. Running Around the World

This isn’t new, but I never noted it, and still makes me smile. Astronaut Mike Hopkins tweeted the following back in March:

Ran for ~1 orbit today. 12 miles on the treadmill while the station travelled more than 25,000 miles. I’ve now run around the world.

Yeah, so there is THAT … which is pretty awesome.

10 Day You Challenge

I have to confess that I am loving this series, as it makes me reflect on myself and my life. I wouldn’t really think I would be learning about myself – but I am. And today I learn something again, as I list out my ‘five foods’.

Day Six: Five Foods

1. Ice Cream – No matter what, I will always love ice cream. It is one thing I will always allow myself – and I have stopped going ‘light’ or whatever. I get what I want. One of the first things I did with my Nutribullet was to figure out how to make desserts – and I make a wonderful banana-based ‘soft serve’ that can be chocolate, fruity, peanut butter or whatever … and it is awesome.

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2. Steak – steak has always been my favorite meat, but not something I get very often. I will have it for my birthday (and did), and also on rare occasions. I will have it for Father’s Day next weekend as well. I tend to eat a diet of mostly fruits and veggies and some lean meats … but I just love a nice juicy steak. Preferably with a nice glass of red wine.

3. Sweet Potato – I have mentioned it before, but growing up sweet potatoes were only at Thanksgiving. Then as a young adult I would have them at restaurants on occasion. Now? Whenever I can. Whole, mashed, cut up as oven-fries, grilled, roasted, whatever.

4. ALL the fruit – I always have fruit with breakfast and lunch, and would say that the vast majority of what hits the Nutribullet is fruit-based. To make this choice even easier, from Mayo Clinic:

The following are technically fruits: avocado, beans, peapods, corn kernels, cucumbers, grains, nuts, olives peppers, pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds and tomatoes.

So yeah … it is ALL about the fruits for me! Sure I love my veggies … but fruit rules my world!

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5. Smoothies – I enlisted Lisa’s help for this on … I have now had my Nutribullet for two months – and I use it every day, some days twice, and occasionally even three times. I have found some great go-to recipes for thin, thick and spoonable smoothies that are sweet or savory, and really … I am thinking of what I will have for a post-run smoothie even as I type this!

What is your favorite running shoe and/or gadget, and how about your favorite foods?