I’m Not Afraid Anymore

Posted: March 9, 2011 at 1:19 pm

The crock pot saved dinner for me again last night. When planning meals for the week I didn’t intend to have two crock pot meals back to back. Then, I two very long days and I became very thankful for crock pot options. Who cares if that meant potato, bean, and veggie dinners two nights in a row?

Monday, we had the golden potato, veggie, white bean, and pesto mix…

[recipe from Monday night’s post]

…and last night we had sweet potato, veggie, black bean, and salsa as a chili.

[recipe from Gina]

As I was enjoying dinner last night a thought struck me. A couple years ago I would have never had such a mix for dinner. Then, here I am happily enjoying meatless meals two nights in a row. I wouldn’t have avoided such meals in the past because I loved meat that much. No. I would have avoided such meals because they didn’t have what I would have considered a protein source back then.

With my old food rules, protein only came in the form of lean meats – a source that would provide almost purely protein with limited added fat or carbs. Tofu? No. It has extra fat. Beans? They have more carbs! That just isn’t possible. Plus, I thought the only way I could get enough protein would be with such meat sources.

When I was at my most restrictive I tried to severely limit carbohydrates in my diet. I remember calculating out my macronutrient splits (% of carbs/fat/protein in my diet) and having only about 35% of my calories coming from carbohydrate sources…most of that in the form of veggies, not oats. 50% of my calories came from protein like chicken. How sad considering I don’t even really like chicken!

Then, after becoming pregnant with Makenzie I wizened up and began eating more intuitively. I certainly ate more carbohydrates, but still strived for more protein. I couldn’t give up the notion that I needed at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. I honestly believed my body needed it to function normally. Then, somehow I stumbled across the fact that the recommended amount of protein for a woman of my size and activity level is only around 60-70 grams per day. Say what?!

Over the past year I have grown even more in tune with my body and the things I prefer to eat. Intuitive eating is a continuous growth process, after all. I discovered that while I do still enjoy meat, I love meatless meals too and enjoy eating them numerous times out of the week. Now, I get most of my protein from sources like beans, tofu, eggs, nuts/nutbutters, Greek yogurt, and maybe 3-4 servings of meat a week. I actually inputted my meals for yesterday into Sparkpeople just to see how my eating balances out these days.

Yesterday, I ate 2184 calories. 54% of that came from carbohydrates, 25% came from protein, and 21% came from fat. I don’t normally track (and proved to myself I have no desire after taking the effort for that little experiment), but I believe these stats are standard for me these days. You know what? I feel better. I feel like I have more energy for workouts. I have steadily been making what I consider great progress in my “Body After Baby” goals and likely even better progress than I did after Makenzie. I feel more satisfied and less hungry than when I ate more meat. Even without meat, I still exceeded my recommended protein amount. I enjoy all my food and no longer eat anything because I “should”. Listening to your body works. Food rules don’t. Each body functions differently and you have to fuel it a way that suits you best. I truly believe my body functions best with more carbs and I’m not afraid of that anymore. Bring on the beans! <—I think I just scared my husband with that statement. 😉

Question of the Day – What type of eating do you think your body thrives on? More carbs? Higher fat? Lots of protein? A very equal split?

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89 Comments to “I’m Not Afraid Anymore”
  1. Kelly says:

    I love all protein sources…except I don’t like tofu unless I get it out. For some reason I can NEVER make it taste good myself and believe me I have tried.

  2. So fabulous!!!! 🙂

    I am learning very slowly how my body thrives and I will say this- it looks nothing like what I “thought” it would. And I like that! Some days I still have that little voice in my head- should I be doing this or should I be following the next great thing? Leftover thinking from a chronic dieter…

    What I love about experimenting and exploring is the idea that I share with friends + clients…YOU are unique, your body is unique. What foods allow you to nourish and flourish is unique to you and you alone. No one diet book, idea or set of guidelines can fit you better than your own knowledge and understanding.

    It takes courage and a great leap of faith for people who have dieted in the past or always sought an expert opinion. The funny thing is WE are our OWN expert. We just forget to listen sometimes. 🙂

    Beautiful post!

    • Tina says:

      I love that statement – WE are OUR own expert. How true! Nobody is more of an expert on our own body than ourselves.

  3. Mandy says:

    I definitely feel better with most of my diet coming from carbohydrates. I also have recently realized that without certain things in my diet (carbonation, coffee and too much insoluble fiber) upsets my stomach and makes for some really uncomfortable times. But I’ve changed some things recently, and I feel so much better… and less bloated too even with more carbs 😉

  4. Kara says:

    My body thrives on a stress free diet. I don’t ever know how much I eat or how many grams of protein. My body does a good job of letting me know what I need through cravings!

    I’m glad you’re relaxing your rules some, carbs are pretty awesome!

    • Tina says:

      My rules have been relaxed for awhile now and it feels so much better. I still learn new things as I go though about my body. And yea – stress free is a great way of putting it. I don’t fret over food anymore.

  5. I NEED carbs… and everything else, of course! But I’m tired of people telling me that I need to get more protein. I get it — I eat enough protein via nuts, beans, eggs, etc. I can’t subsist on protein and roughage (veggies/fruit) all day… my stomach would hate me.

  6. I do count points, but I don’t count calories and I try to be pretty unrestrictive in terms of what I eat. Each meal I try to have a balance of whole grains, protein (tofu, beans, eggs, cheese), and fruits/veggies. I also need to factor in a few sweet treats!

    • Tina says:

      A few sweet treats should ALWAYS be factored in! And that’s how I do things too. I try to have some healthy carbs, a form of protein, a bit of fat with each meal in reasonable portions. That’s all that I need to work a balance in my eating.

  7. As much as I wish I could say my body does better when I eat more carbs, after keeping tabs on myself for awhile, I’ve found I do better with a slightly higher protein intake. I’m not a huge fan of a lot of different kinds of meat so I have to get inventive every now and then.

    • Tina says:

      And see – that’s awesome for you that you know your body. We all function differently and its all about figuring out what that is for us personally.

  8. jobo says:

    LOVE this message Tina. SO much. It isn’t so much about restricting our bodies to certain foods, it’s about fueling it with what our bodies respond to, and quite frankly, what we like, too (in moderation, of course). You have such a great outlook on all of this. You could totally write a column for a fitness magazine imho 🙂

  9. I like variety so I tend to eat a lot of different things. I am actually kind of sick of meat…or at least having it at every dinner. So I would totally be happy with two meatless meals in a row!!

  10. I have to say my body thrives on balance more than anything…as long as I’m eating energy-giving veggies more often than not I’m good to go with whatever I’m craving!

  11. I am a carb girl for sure, but it comes a lot from fruits and veggies. I could easily not get my protein quota, but I work hard to get it everyday. I just don’t prefer it.

  12. I thought you were going to say you’re not afraid of the crockpot and I was going to say “amen” to that but I’ll also say “amen” to listening to your body!!

  13. I wish I knew what my body thrived on. I’m still learning to listen to it more than my taste buds. I prefer to eat carbs and I know I could live without meat because I was a vegetarian for several years. Intuitive eating just doesn’t work for me becuase I don’t seem to have that on/off switch installed properly. Right now, counting calories (Points) is my life. I have to do it, or I go overboard. I’m still trying to lose weight though. I look forward to more experimenting once I’m in the maintenance phase.

  14. Amen. I went through the same “transformation” regarding protein, meat, and veggie meals.

  15. Great post Tina!! Like how you used to, I feel that if I don’t eat meat at lunch & dinner I’m “cheating” myself somehow. At my “happy” weight I was trying to stay in the Zone plan, which is 40 carbs, 30 fat, 30 protein, and I feel like that’s a great way for me 🙂

  16. Jess says:

    LOVE this post, Tina. It shows just how freeing it can be when you start to give up those “rules” a little bit and just eat intuitively. It’s surprising that when you do give up the rules, you still eat well, just without stress, which is a HUGE win in my book.

  17. My body also thrives better on a diet that is higher in carbs. I tried the low carb thing in high school and just didn’t feel right. I think everyone is different but what works best for me is ~10-12% protein, 25-30% fat, and 55-65% carb. I just know this is what I thrive best on!

  18. I am a vegetarian and meat is the only thing I am very strict about not eating. I tend to eat a vegan diet alot of the time and feel really good when I avoid dairy and refined sugar, however I do give in for cravings now and again. I find a diet that is full of fruits, veggies, leafy greens, beans, legumes nuts/seeds and whole grains makes me feel my best. I’m clear-headed, my skin and hair are healthier, I sleep better and overall, I just feel better.

  19. Isn’t it so interesting how we can somehow get an idea in our heads (like, I need X grams of this certain kind of protein every single day) and sometimes it actually leads to a belief that somehow we will not be the same or be as “healthy” if we deviate from that rule? I used to have some weird and even irrational beliefs about what my body needed, and finally I just faced the fact that they weren’t true, and that spending time calculating and worrying about what I was eating to that level of detail was NOT how I wanted to be spending my time.
    Great post, Tina! I’m so glad you are feeling better by embracing more non-meat forms of protein and being less strict about it in general.

  20. Sarah R says:

    Good for you! Listening to your body is the only way to fuel properly. Sometimes it just takes awhile to realize what your body really wants and needs. 🙂

  21. Meg says:

    I still have a difficult time incorporating non-meat protein into my diet. You know how much I love my crock pot so I’m excited to give these recipes a try!

    My body thrives best with lots and lots of veggies! When I get into a rut, it’s usually because I’ve been lacking in that department and find myself craving fresh salads and baked sweet potatoes.

  22. Mellissa says:

    I have noticed that I have cut down on meat, my dinners on Monday and Tuesday were meatless. I also have a decent mix of carbs, fat and protein throughout the day.

  23. I think my body thrives on a healthy balance like yours. I’ve gone through it all – low fat (bad news – tired, leghargic, and dizzy), low calorie (um no thanks), low carbs (I <3 bread!). I think my body functions best when I truly listen to my body and give it what it craves!! Great post!

  24. Marg says:

    I just did Phase 1 of South Beach, and the first few days I was getting really bad headaches. I don’t think I’m meant to go so low with carbs (I still had beans in that phase too). I think Phase 2 is more in line with how I should be eating in general. Carbs from beans, fruits and whole grains, but not overdoing it either. I’m even trying out going meatless today.

    • Tina says:

      I always got BAD headaches when I had too few carbs so I relate. My blood sugar would end up all over the place too.

  25. Angela says:

    My body seems to do best with a wide mix of protein (chicken, yogurt, eggs, turkey, any fish, tofu, edamame), healthy fats ( I adore salmon!) and TONS of fruit and veggies. I also love whole grains – but my fruit and veg cravings are much stronger!

  26. Emily says:

    carbs are my lifeblood. as an endurance athlete, I can NOT have a meal without carbs. I stay super hungry and don’t function as well. I find it tough to get all my protein in throughout the day but I’m finding creative ways to get it done.

  27. Nicole, RD says:

    Awesome post! And thank you for the sweetest comment today – totally made me smile! Thank you! 🙂

    I am all for balance — 40-50% carb, 20% protein, and 20-30% fat. 🙂

  28. I want the whole world to read this post!!! Thank you, Tina, for being proof that listening to our bodies is really the way to go! 🙂

  29. I usually get my protein from eggs, whey protein powder, beans, chicken and beef.

    Tina I have no idea what breakdown of nutrients my body thrives on — I seem to feel my best when I eat lots of veggies/fruits, a good amount of protein and healthy fats and a sprinkle of grains.

    I’m glad you are doing what is best for your body — that is whats important!

    • Tina says:

      I only have a clue on my breakdown because I’m a nerd and wanted to check it out. I definitely don’t track my food like that normally. i guess I more was just asking if others recognize that they do better with more carbs or more fat or more protein.

  30. Oh you can’t live without a good sweet potato and black bean chili! I think I do well on a fairly even split, but slightly higher protein (very slight). Most of my carbs are from whole grains or veggies and it’s hard to feel bad about those.

  31. Sarah says:

    I do eat some meat, but I feel best when I eat mostly plant-based meals. Whole grains, lots of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of healthy fats. Those things tend to keep my body humming along at its best!

  32. Stephanie says:

    I love them all equally. I eat a lot of peanut butter and avocados and bananas. And a TON of veggies. I don’t eat as much meat as I used to…but like you mentioned…it’s more of a TASTE issue than a nutrient issue for me right now.

  33. Love this! I’ve been interested in doing a meatless monday or something but have been so nervous about not getting enough protein. Even with eggs and beans i’m like will it be enough??! That 60 – 70 grams was like what??!! Very interesting. I think I do well on 30-40 grams of fat and lots of protein. I eat too many carbs – eek!

  34. Kim says:

    Tina – I love my crock pot and I think two nights in a row of crock pot meals is great. I’m trying to put together an e-mail list of the Team4all bloggers so we can communicate directly. Would you like to be included? If so, e-mail me your address at [email protected]. Thanks!

  35. Em says:

    You are doing so great!! I’m not afraid anymore either… but these days I’m might be a little tooooooooo “not afraid…” Need to get back on the healthy eating and working out train!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Kacy says:

    “Listening to your body works. Food rules don’t” SO TRUE!
    I eat a very high fat, high carb diet. It’s all wrong according to all the experts, but it’s what I like and it works for me so I don’t plan on changing it.

  37. Ela says:

    Yay for you–aren’t crockpots wonderful?

    Having tried every kind of macronutrient restriction you can imagine, I’ve had to conclude that restricting any macronutrient is not doing your body a favor, and that most of our whole food sources are predominantly either carb or fat, with protein balancing between the two (muscle meat isn’t a whole food).

    Since my latest long-term restriction was on carbs, like you, this means that I’ve upped carbs lately: in fact, I’ve been eating starches (sweet potatoes, parsnips and such) for the first time in a very long time, and they’ve been helping me feel great! It’s hard for me not to be tempted to restrict fat when I do this–old habits–but some fat in the mix is definitely needed. And it seems like the protein takes care of itself, although I do use some hemp and pea protein powders a little.


    • Tina says:

      Yea, the old can’t have carbs + fat together was a hard one for me to overcome too. Now its such a yummy combo I have no problem. 🙂

  38. Carolyn says:

    I am still trying to find out my perfect balance. My body craves mostly carbs, but I am trying to increase the protein right now. I’ll see how that goes 🙂 I will never cut out any of the macronutrients, but I am starting to believe that the right balance is different for different people.

  39. I actually have to be a conscious protein eater. Left to my druthers, I’m a carboholic. When my teen leaves for college next year we will have a lot less meat. Love quinoa for protein substitute. And beans. And lentils. So many options he won’t touch!

  40. Melie says:

    I think I am eating high-carb high-fat diet. It’s not as bad as it sounds! Last time I checked it was something like 60% carbs, 20% fats and 20% protein. My carbs come mainly from whole grains and veggies, my fat sources are mainly avocados, nuts and olive oil and proteins are nuts and beans and limited eggs or cheese. I still maintain that I am consistent with the recommendations for vegetarian endurance runners. That might be the only similarity I have with endurance athletes! 😛 I think that the main and best part of your post is that you feel more satisfied and energized with this pattern of eating. 🙂

  41. i’m in the same boat. i’ve noticed myself making more and more meatless meals these days without even trying. last year i gave up meat…then i got tired of making vegetarian meals and i kinda missed meat, so i added back in…but now, without any pressure, and just listening to my body, i’m make more meatless…and i like it 🙂

  42. I’m a carb girl. Good carbs, though. My day starts with oatmeal or whole grain cereal, and if it doesn’t, I just feel “blah.” I can definitely tell when I’m lacking protein, too! I eat what I know I need (sometimes that includes brownies) and I feel good! 🙂

    • Tina says:

      That’s how I am too. I make sure my carbs are as quality as possible…but of course the occasional brownie too. I get it. They are totally a need sometimes. 😉

  43. Amanda says:

    What a great post! I think it is so great that you listen to your body! I always try to do that as well! 🙂

    I would say that I typically eat more veggies and carbs but now that I have been training for my marathon, I have been craving a lot more protein lately…so I have been drinking a lot of smoothies & eating more greek yogurt etc! 🙂 Hope you are having a good week!

  44. Dorry says:

    I thrive on high fats for sure! And a combo of carbs, proteins, fruits & veggies of course. 🙂

  45. My body has never reacted well to meat or dairy, so vegetarianism wasn’t such a stretch for me. I don’t know about my overall body, but my digestive system is a LOT happier when I avoid those categories and get my protein from beans, tofu, and other sources.

  46. feener says:

    i am hoping to find that out on this cleanse i am doing !!

  47. Naomi says:

    wel my body just loves all food haha but I think it thrives the most off protein! but I love healthy fats and carbs the most to be honest!

    Even training for my competition, we dont count macros or anything and i cannot IMAGINE how hard and tedious that is! I have never even done that ever in my life and never plan to! we just go by portion sizes and its working like a charm!

  48. I was the same way with ‘needing’ to get all of that protein in! It was that whole body building mentality I had…I thought it was “THE WAY”…and it’s not. Gone are the days of snacking on plain chicken breast…bleck!

  49. LindseyAnn says:

    Honestly? I’m still learning what my body really likes. I have noticed that I feel better when I eat more plant based foods and lean meats, but my diet is still a work-in-progress.
    I have learned that I need to eat more, though! I got caught up in a sweeping of posts where people were talking about not eating TOO much while long-distance training, and I realized I was over-doing the careful watching when I passed out at work. I don’t need to be eating 3000 calories, but I think at this point I need more than 1600, especially considering I’m not trying to drop any weight.

    • Tina says:

      Yea 1600 with intensie training does sound pretty low. Honestly the almost 2200 I had was on the lower side of what I normally eat right now with regular workouts and I am losing weight. Given my count is higher bec nursing too…but I always think its best to eat more that suits our bodies fitness. Eat more = more nutrition getting to our bodies after all. 🙂

  50. Errign says:

    First of all, I freaking love, love, love my crockpot.

    I guess I’ve never really stopped to think about this, but I think my body thrives on protein being part of every meal & snack for satiety. I find that the times I skipped it, even if it’s just a smidge of pb on my apple slices, that I am hungry soon after. And being hungry=zero fun!

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