Tag Archives: comfort food

Food 4 Thought #4

Oatmeal isn’t a new breakfast option for me but for a couple of reasons I’ve become a huge fan of it this year.

One of my dearest friends introduced me to Trader Joe’s Steel Cut Oatmeal which takes 3.5 minutes to heat up in the microwave.  I usually add a couple of tablespoons of almond butter and a fruit (e.g blueberries, strawberries or a banana).  It’s such a healthy and satisfying breakfast.  And for me it’s become comfort food.  You see my friend who introduced it to me did so by making it for her daughters.   When I stayed with them for a couple of weeks last spring I spent my mornings visiting with the girls as they ate their oatmeal and continued getting ready for school.  I really enjoyed starting off my mornings this way.  So now when I eat oatmeal, especially this particular brand, I think of them and their parents, which provides a great deal of comfort.

Then during the summer I came across Three Sisters Cereal Oatmeal.  It’s pretty good as well.  The fact that I can travel with it won me over big time.  Before this year, my race morning breakfast usually consisted of a bagel, peanut butter, coffee and an Ensure.  When I travel for a race, it’s a challenge obtaining these items for breakfast.  When I have to stay overnight often times finding a bagel for breakfast is challenging.  Even if I don’t have to stay overnight and can drive to the race site in the morning, I have to pick up a bagel the day before.  The bagel is pretty hard and dry by the time I need to eat it.  So, before this summer my pre-race breakfast consisted of at least one new/different item every time.  It’s never a good idea to change things up on race day or even the day before.  But many times I’ve had to do this.  That is until I discovered Three Sisters.  The oatmeal comes in individual serving packets.  The packaging can be used to measure the water which is all one needs to add to make it.  These days most hotels place a mini-coffee pot in each room so I use it to heat up my water and bingo!  I’ve got my oatmeal.  I’ll bring my banana with me or pick one up at a nearby store.  They’re pretty easy to find –  even Starbucks sells them!  I’ve also discovered Justin’s Almond Butter packets.  These packets are super easy to travel with.  The Ensure is relatively easy to take on trips and if not, most drug stores carry them.

I love how oatmeal is part of my diet.  On race day it’s great because it’s a reliable pre-race food and super easy to consume.  On other days I’m comforted as I eat my breakfast.

What food gives you comfort?  What is your pre-race breakfast?

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Food 4 Thought: 2

Noah and I have been seen by doctors at three different children’s hospitals.  Two of the three have a McDonald’s located on their premises.  (Genius marketing on McDonald’s part.  And yes a bit disturbing as well.)  Where Noah was ultimately cared for after he was born is one of those hospitals.  During our time in the CICU, MLH and I usually were good with eating on the healthier end of the spectrum.  We became very familiar with the hospital cafeteria.  But we did go to McDonald’s several times.  During those times we had a rough day in the CICU and were looking for comfort food.  Unfortunately comfort doesn’t equal healthy. McDonald’s offers several comforting options: Big Macs, filet-o-fishes, chocolate shakes, apple pies, etc.  Of course McDonald’s doesn’t have a monopoly on comfort food.  There’s mac ‘n cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken pot pies, warm chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken and so on.  While consuming it, comfort food tastes good and provides…well comfort.  It seems to satisfy or suspend those feelings of anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, stress or other feelings which most likely are the culprits for wanting comfort food in the first place.  Afterwards, for me, the comfort goes away.  Most of the time some guilt and an upset stomach combined with a sugar crash take over.  Oh but comfort food does taste good, and our bodies do crave it.

I’d love to claim, with all of my training, I no longer crave comfort food but I can’t.  I still do.  A couple of days ago, I dealt with a couple of very tough topics related to Noah.  I experienced an overwhelming feeling of sadness and found myself feeling lost again.  (Grief isn’t linear.  Also after taking two or three steps forward, it’s not uncommon to take a step or two back.)  So, instead of eating a healthy soup and salad for lunch I ate a Little Bacon Cheeseburger with a side of Cajun Fries from Five Guys.  For better or worse I did find comfort from my greasy meal.  Interestingly afterwards I didn’t feel as guilty as I thought would.  Partly because I knew I’d burn this meal off during my next workout.  Also I began looking forward to my healthy dinner which was already planned out.  MLH and I had a chicken breast with a big, leafy green salad full of lots of raw vegetables that night.  AFTER dinner I felt some comfort also.  I felt comfort from the fact that I ate a healthy meal.  I felt comfort knowing all of those nutrients will help me the next day, especially during my workout.

Given my love for delicious food, I’m not one who believes athletes need to eat healthy all of the time.  But I am becoming more sensitive to what healthy food and not-so-healthy food do to my body and how it impacts training.

I think I have two types of comfort food now.  There’s the good ol’ burger/McDonald’s/mac ‘n cheese type.  I’m certain I’ll continue to have moments when I  crave this food and will indeed indulge.  And now there’s the type which involves fresh veggies, lean poultry, whole grains and nuts.  I’ll call this “delayed” comfort food.  I’ll feel the comfort after I eat, during my workout and beyond.

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