I get a lot of questions about nutrition, so I figured I’d spend some time sharing where I’m at after 10 years of experimenting. My personal opinion is there’s a lot of dangerous BS out there, and while I’m no expert, these are my simple takes on what works for me.
- I view nutrition as what I can sustain psychologically and financially. Life is short and I want to eat well but also reduce cost and effort yet feel as good as possible. Making note of this, since I feel this is pretty specific.
- 80% of the time, my prime motivators for nutrition are selfishly centered around convenience or fitness. I prioritize food that’s best suited for feeling ‘healthy’ during a busy day, or maintaining/improving my strength and conditioning goals.
- Although I am a conscious consumer, nutrition is complex, and I’m always looking for better options to improve the impact and ethics of what I buy and consume. This has been an ongoing journey.
I’ll break down this post into four blocks:
- What I buy
- How I buy
Here we go :)
I really like food, but I also love to cook. Cooking is something I’ll prioritize if I have the time and energy. Understanding how to cook and actually investing time in this skill is critical to everything else you’ll read here. I consider cooking to be a huge life skill. Unless I’m ‘taking time off’ to treat myself, or having fun with friends, I simply don’t like spending extra money eating out. The lack of control in what I’m eating is easily avoidable with a bit of planning and effort, so cooking is something I’ve always valued. There are several exceptions to this, which I’ll touch on in the ‘enjoyment’ section.
I’d say 80% of my diet is pretty repetitive. On the good side, it means my nutrition is predictable, replicable, and pragmatic. On the bad side, it’s sometimes monotonous, stereotypical, and less glamorous than it could be at times.
I mention this all up-front because those who ask me about nutrition are asking through the lens of fitness. I’ve been going to the gym for about 10 years now. It’s been a crooked path in that I’ve spent a lot of time practicing improper form, pretending as if I know too much, or simply prioritizing certain styles of training that feel naive in hindsight. Either way, all of this zig-zagging over the years has added up in incremental ways. The pure act of trying has created a lot of positives (with the exception of an injury here or there).
For context, I’ve had moments in my life where I’ve gone as severe as weighing and tracking my food (in some cases for 3-4 months straight). In other months, I’ve eaten anything and everything, just to bulk up to a certain weight. Both of these patterns stem from a bad place. It feels like those days are behind me.
Now, unless I have a very specific training goal in mind, I’m much more flow-oriented about my week-to-week eating. I’m able to be more carefree in the present day because I’ve gone so severe in the past. It’s easy to scale back that intensity into something that’s more sustainable. I simply know how to guesstimate better. I recommend if someone is serious about nutrition as it relates to health and fitness, that they go through the monotony of creating and maintaining a food journal for a short amount of time. Yes, that means tracking your food. No, it doesn’t mean you have to do this forever, nor become obsessed with what you eat or don’t eat. Tracking food has been extremely informative to my baseline. It’s also a dangerous habit depending on your relationship with food, weight gain, or weight loss. For me, it’s provided objective data and has allowed me to further refine what works for me.
What I buy:
20% of my grocery list is pretty informal—usually stuff that I’ve found in a recipe, a youtube video, or a friend recommendation. This is reserved for when I want to share the experience of cooking with a friend, on my own, or simply for day-to-day monotony. I try to keep this up as I balance out the 80% below.
Most of my grocery list is as follows and is easily repeatable to me:
- Proteins: Chicken breast, shrimp, eggs
- Vegetables (Health): Root vegetables (carrots, parsnips), broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, peppers, onions, garlic, ginger
- Carbs (Fuel): Brown or white rice, oatmeal, beans, sweet potatoes
- Fats: Olive oil, peanut butter, avocado, hummus or tahini
- Snacks: Almonds, rice cakes, protein bars, dark chocolate, bananas, blueberries
- Dairy: Oat or almond milk, pecorino or parmesan, greek yogurt
- Other: Hot sauce, spices (of all kinds), mustard, miso
This is basically what I eat if I’m cooking at home. If you don’t see it listed here, it’s because I don’t buy or regularly eat it at home (even though I may enjoy it): 🚫 bread, dressings, juices, pastries, etc, etc, etc.
How I buy:
I use a similar method as Bon Appetit’s Carla Lalli Music. She just put out a book that touches on a similar sentiment: streamline how you buy the bulky stuff and be conscious of how you buy the delicate stuff.
This means, as someone without a car, I use two ways of spending as little time buying healthy groceries in New York City.
- Local bodegas, markets, or local grocery stores
- Amazon Prime Now: ordering via Whole Foods
I’ve spent years lugging dull groceries back and forth on foot, things like: canned food, frozen veggies, sparkling water, almond milk - i.e., stuff that weighs a lot that isn’t very precious. Now, I outsource/order all of that.
I spend my time now going to the store after work meetings or my normal day-to-day. This is where I pick up vegetables, eggs, and other ingredients that make up my meals for that day or week.
I feel a bit odd ordering food from Amazon, but I feel a bit better knowing that it comes straight from Whole Foods. As much as I love GOYA chickpeas from the corner bodega, it’s usually easier for me to order these in bulk.