Dietitian Diary: A Week with Nick
**Disclaimer: Please be aware that this post contains content that some readers may find triggering. This is not intended to be dietary advice. Anything written here is not necessarily appropriate for the Enara program you are on or consistent with your particular goals.
I was anxious for this blog post but I had big plans for it. I was going to showcase my own efforts to eat in a healthful manner. I was going to show how I practice what I preach. How all those food comments about plate construction and macronutrient distribution, all those tips about batch cooking and meal prepping, how all that advice looks in a tangible, documented week. Look and see how I did! As a result then, hopefully, folks would be able to read and gain insight. Read and pick up, maybe, some tips or small things they could try and employ. I certainly felt the pressure spending as many hours as I do per week commenting on food photos. How hypocritical would I feel if I couldn’t tangibly produce my own advice? How could constructing a plate in the very manner I had just suggested not be done?
For some context about me, I have always struggled with food. I think I am afraid of it. For stretches of high school I was very underweight, exercised obsessively, and ate in a very restrictive manner. That fear of food is why I became a dietitian and while I have certainly grown out of that to a degree, I still struggle sometimes. I go through periods of intense restriction interspersed with times of not really caring. I talk about the “all or nothing” mentality quite often in appointments from experience because I am prone to it. Often, and probably more than I realize, I am moderate but I’ll admit those times certainly do not stick out. Exercise plays a huge role for me. How consistently and/or intensely I am working out usually drives my motivation to eat well. I feel like I’m either building towards something or preparing to with my own fitness. On the other end of the spectrum, if I am not exercising I am usually afraid to eat a meal that I wouldn’t consider super lean, or don’t care at all and live it up with whatever sounds good. In those times, it’s usually the most unhealthful thing I can think of. Exercise is my regulator and it has been hard to adapt without it.
All of this leads me to this week. Like I said, I envisioned documenting a lean healthy week where I worked out a lot and could detail how I try to fuel those workouts and recover from them. Folks could see how their RD/ food commenter operates. A week where I take all of my education and experience and translate it into meals and feel great, so great. See, I had big plans. As you probably could have guessed at this point, that is not what happened.
The leading detrimental factor in all of this is a hip injury. Running used to be my favorite thing and I haven’t been able to do it for about 5 months now. Being active in general via lifting weights or playing sports or whatever has always been a huge part of my life and I have had to adapt to live without those things. I have been going to PT for about a month but, unfortunately, it’s just not getting better. It has bled into everything, my ability to lift weights, do core exercises, ride a bike, walk, everything. The last few weeks I have been focusing on calming it down, limiting myself to what doesn’t make it hurt, which honestly took a whole lot of mental effort just to accept that. I’m limited to resistance bands in my garage and 20-30 minute daily walks around the block. This of course is legitimate exercise, it just hasn’t been the same for me personally in terms of calories expended or more importantly, how I feel after. Another thing that happened on this fateful week of chronicling was that I simply felt bad. I had muscle aches, congestion, and lethargy. Maybe it was due to stress and depression over the A’s potentially leaving Oakland for Las Vegas but I think it was a bug. I had to take a sick day Monday but I’m finally feeling better now at the end of the week. While it certainly wasn’t a driver of healthy eating behaviors that is of course how it goes and one has to adapt. I think having a foundation of some healthful practices to fall back on, when you’re not feeling well or if there is a lot of stuff going on, is important in being able to maintain at the very least. One can hopefully come out on the other side and get back to basics without feeling like they are starting from zero. Anyways, enough context, to the week!
In terms of intake, I didn’t like the way I started. Of course this is how the blog week would start!
My sister’s birthday was over the weekend and the night before we had gone to a German restaurant in Alameda. I had a sandwich but only ate half because I had gone to the A’s game that day and was exhausted from the sun. I woke up on Sunday and stared at the other half sitting in the fridge. I considered tossing it but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I mean it tasted good but it was pretty fat heavy and I could feel it. After eating I struggled through a workout midmorning (resistance bands in garage + walk around the neighborhood). There was a family get together that afternoon and I decided a solid lunch before going would be good for me. My most common practice is usually to go in hungry but I wanted to skip the pre-dinner chips because I was down on my inability to burn calories with a good workout. I had what is probably the most typical meal for me of all time: A bowl of rice, chicken breast, broccoli, and balsamic vinaigrette. I think it was the right move. At my parents house for the party there was actually a lean protein option for dinner which was a great relief for the writing of this chronicling, as well as my mental health.
Monday I was sick. I don’t know what it was but I felt pretty bad. I sat around all day and didn’t feel like eating because of it. Breakfast was still pretty solid (even though the avocados we bought were terrible). I can’t say the same for lunch as I had Top Ramen, I almost never have a meal without a protein. I reserve the noodle packets in the pantry for periods of illness and it works out that they seem to last forever. Dinner was a comfort sandwich and after, I had my quintessential comfort food. Cereal.
Tuesday I felt a bit better and decided to make good on my plan to showcase the meal preparation that I am such a big proponent of. My appointments for the day were in the afternoon so I made some food for the week in the morning.
Breakfast was pretty typical for me, an egg supplemented with some whites, a slice of bread (Oatnut), tomatoes, and fortunately there was some avocado salsa leftover so I could toss the terrible avocados (is there anything worse than a bad avocado?)
I had the classic lunch (chicken, rice, broccoli), a cliff bar for snack, and then the same for dinner but with a bit of zest to try and cheer myself up- a slice of cheese! Afterwards, I was still feeling sorry for myself for not feeling well so I had another bowl of cereal.
I could have really used a bout of exercise on this day but I really wanted to feel better from whatever it was that was happening. At some point I think there is something to be said for sacrificing physical health for mental health, at least partially- and definitely personally, but I was really trying to listen to my body so I made myself rest. Subsequently, it was an uninspired day of intake. I worked the morning shift of appointments and did pretty well through that. Eggs and toast for breakfast, greek yogurt and berries with cereal for snack but once that was over and the reality of the forced rest on a beautiful summer evening settled in- I needed something good. We got burritos from one of our favorite places in Alameda and the couch confinement began. I love a good burrito but having one during a work week is usually unheard of. What can I say, it was a weird week.
I woke up for my first appointment at 7am in fear that I would still feel bad. I’ve had eggs/egg whites for breakfast probably 27 out of the last 30 days so I opted for a turkey sandwich instead. Maybe that was what the doctor ordered (or maybe it was the burrito!) as I felt better by mid morning than I had all week. I stuck with coffee throughout the morning until my appointments were over at lunchtime. Not snacking is atypical for me when I have morning appointments (usually greek yogurt or a Cliff bar) but I have just started putting oatmilk in my coffee so that probably helped carry me through. Lunch was the boring old same but I think sometimes, that is exactly what you need. I replaced the balsamic with a tbsp of olive oil. I do this a few times a week because I think I have a tendency to restrict fats too much at the detriment of getting healthy, and necessary, sources in. After work I did a very light workout. It wasn’t satisfying, or a break through where my hip suddenly felt great out of nowhere like I always hold out hope for but it was better than nothing. I’m glad I did it. For my last documented meal I had a salad with chicken, tomatoes, onions, and croutons. Nice and lean like I had always intended.