As a health coach, the question of how much food is enough actually never comes up. The world has tainted our view of food being the enemy instead of fuel we actually need for our bodies to function properly and thrive. The constant mentality of eating less and moving more being the only way to stay lean and healthy.
For us as women we are held to unrealistic standards and constant comparison. Following how someone else looks and what they are eating instead of being intune with our own body. All of these things cause a poor relationship with food, confusion, guilt and shame. What I want to talk about today is knowing what to eat and how much is enough. This is VERY personal to you. While eating fruits, veggies, protein, and good fats are clearly known to support good health. What satisfies you and gives you the most energy within these food groups might be completely different than what works for someone else. I am going to tell you my personal story as an example.
Curiosity over Comparison
I can’t even tell you how many years I spent eating what other people ate. Thinking that if I eat the food they eat and exercise like them, I will look a certain way. As you can imagine this got me nowhere, and left me feeling unsatisfied with my body and food. I wasn’t listening to my body at all and in turn I craved foods that I deprived myself of, and got into vicious patterns of deprivation and binging. Until I started to listen to my body and honor what it needed at the moment did I actually started to see changes physically and mentally. However, this did not happen overnight. Years of research, trial and error, and mindfulness brought me to where I am today.
I started distance running in January 2023. As I trained for my first marathon I searched and searched for what and how much I should be eating. As a female long distance runner, and weightlifter, most of the nutrition and training guidance I found was for an adult male. The knowledge I did find for women was very generalized to “eat enough”, and “carb load”. Throughout my research I also came across many elite athletes coming forward about their disordered eating and amenorrhea(lack of your menstrual cycle).
For instance my cycle was already irregular and my training workload was definitely not helping that. I knew this was something I had to figure out. I felt like I was eating all the time, and doctors told me nothing was wrong with me, I was at a healthy weight, and everything looked normal. But a nagging feeling told there has to be more to my body that they are missing.
We are more than numbers on the internet.
The internet is full of knowledge, free advice, and generalized recommendations. Generalized being the important term. Average calorie recommendations for your age and height, or even as an “active female”. These do not take into account your unique body blueprint. I am here to tell you, we are so much more than an age, height, weight, and activity level. Each and every one of us is a unique human being. Your needs are exactly that, your needs. What one person eats might work for them, but it might not be what you need. One more thing to keep in mind. What once worked for you might not be serving you any longer. Just as my life changed with marathon training, our bodies, environment, and lives change. We must change and support ourselves where we are NOW.
If I went off of a universal online BMR Calculator this is what it would say:
High activity level
39 years old
= 1700-1,984 calories per day
How to find out your unique nutrition needs?
I felt at a loss trying to figure out the mystery of my body, especially as a Health Coach and being trained in nutrition and macros. After searching for some time for the right sports nutritionist, a friend of mine in the health industry recommended a metabolic test to see where my resting energy expenditure is at. REE is how many calories we burn at rest, not doing anything. This is the fuel our bodies need to just perform regular bodily functions. Did you know your body needs fuel to rest and recover? Pretty incredible! This sounded amazing to me to see inside my body with a short 10-minute test and understand what I’m missing.
I immediately made an appointment with Pinnacle Nutrition and had the Metabolic test done. I came to find out my REE was 1600 calories, which made me about 200-500 calories under where I should be on certain training days(If you look above at the online calculator I would barely be giving myself enough calories for energy let alone training). If you ask any 5’2 women how much she should be eating I can guarantee she would never say 2700 calories. This is my personal metabolic blueprint. I highly recommend finding yours. If you are in the Capital Region, reach out to Pinnacle. Otherwise look up places that offer the metabolic test in your area. Learn more about what a calorie is here, hint..it’s not the enemy.
You might not be training for a marathon or have irregular periods but fueling our body is essential to thrive. Undereating can cause insomnia, vitamin deficiencies, depression, anxiety, binge eating, and disordered eating. The crazy thing is the human body is so intelligent it adapts to any situation. I felt like I was eating whenever I was hungry but my body was telling me through my irregular period that something was missing. I can’t tell you how much food is enough, you have to get curious and discover what your unique metabolic blueprint is and what gives YOU the best energy.
The Path to Food Freedom
- Ask for help.
- Be open to change
- Listen to your body.(aches, pains, headaches, gut issues, infertility, irregular periods, pms)
- Discover and honor what your body needs through curiosity and awareness.
As a coach and professional in the health industry I have my own coaches, trainers, dieticians helping me understand my body and become the strongest healthiest version of myself. I now find myself in this peaceful state of satisfaction. Never starving, never stuffed. Just right. My period is also back to being more regular and I am in the best shape of my life as an athlete. Having your village, your counsel is ESSENTIAL.
Stop following what other people are doing or the most recent diet fad, and definitely don’t do what I do. Start researching YOU and getting the inner knowledge you need to support your needs now. There is no quick fix, get a coach, counsel, a mentor and put in the work and time to see results. This isn’t about being skinny, this about taking care of yourself and making the right choices for you for the long haul. If you need help with sleep or establishing healthy habits into your life check out all FED Coaching has to offer. Definitely reach out to Pinnacle Nutrition for a metabolic test. On the pod this week is Dietician Lindsay Pleskot. Listen in to this incredible chat on intuitive eating as a mom and women, and how to get curious about what our body needs! We only have this one life and one body, let’s take care of it.