Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Healthy Eating Tips from Amy Golumbia, Canadian Mountain Running Champ

The story I am working on for the October/November issue of Trail Runner has involved research into the health benefits of eating a pH-balanced diet. It turns out that most diseases, fatigue, muscle soreness and a foggy mind, to name only a few ailments, are all caused by the accumulation of acids in the body. A pH-balanced diet, comprised of lots of fresh veggies, nuts, seeds, healthy oils rich in essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6) and small amounts of unprocessed meat and fish, is the best way to change your body from acid to alkaline.

I interviewed Any Golumbia, of Calgary, Alberta, mother to young twin girls and the 2009 Canadian National Mountain Running Champion, who along with the rest of the team, is heading to Italy for the World Mountain Running Championship on September 6. She is also a holistic nutritionist and founder of the Jump Start Nutrition Clinics, and an athlete-ambassador for Vega health-food products. She doesn't just preach good nutrition, she lives it!

Why is eating a pH-balanced diet important?

Because of the amount of training I do, if I didn’t ensure my body was alkaline all the time, I would constantly be dealing with lactic acid stress, sore muscles, poor digestion and the resulting lack of energy. That being said, I spent a long time “tuning in” to my body’s needs and we now have a very good relationship and it’s one of constant flux and communication. Kind of like the love relationships that we all strive for, it’s important to be in constant communication with your body and it’s needs.

What dietary rules do you follow?

My meal plans change from day to day, and certainly from season to season. I have a few rules I always stick to, and from there I just try to listen. One day, I may feel like blueberries, hemp seeds and rice milk for breakfast, and the next I might need eggs, tomatoes and spinach!

Rule #1: Obey the rules 90% of the time, and leave a little room for fun, family dinners and social eating. It’s important to stick to your goals but it’s also important to be flexible, especially with twins! I can’t let the fact that I can’t have a planned meal ruin my entire day.

Rule #2: Eat no grains of any sort. In all of my years of practice, I have found that almost 90% of symptoms go away when my clients eliminate grain and dairy from their diets.

Rule #3: Eat only whole foods. The closer the food is to the way it grows in nature, the easier it is for your body to use it and derive the most energy from it. Obviously certain supplements make sense at times and in situations of imbalance so I use Vega products as well as a few other supplements when I know I’m not getting enough from whole foods.

What does a typical day look like?

Breakfast: hot lemon water, organic coffee (my one vice is good, strong organic coffee. what can I say, I have twins and a full life). grapefruit or blueberries, or a fruit smoothie.

Lunch: Huge salad with mixed greens, spinach, tomatoes, avocado, Little Creek Dressing (my all time fav!), and a protein source, usually two boiled eggs. I am not afraid to eat fat as long as it is from clean sources and not saturated.

Dinner: Steamed vegetable in season (i.e. asparagus), another big salad and BBQ salmon or other protein source. In the winter I add home-made soups for their warming properties. In summer I eat more raw vegetables.

Do you have any time-saving tips for preparing fresh, healthy food for you and your family?

My kids have been eating chickpeas and spinach since they started on solids! They’re just starting to want packaged food but I try to teach them about where food comes from and what happens to the body when you eat a lot of processed food. They get treats once in a while, but in general they stick to the same rules as I do.

Making fresh, healthy meals for my family isn't hard at all. It takes planning but because we eat a lot of raw, whole, natural foods so there isn’t a lot of preparation. My girls always have a ton of energy, great mental focus, rarely get sick and are generally really excited to eat!

Tip: always keep a variety of fresh, colorful cut up veggies in the fridge. Make a few dips (i.e. hummus, tapenade, etc.) and keep them handy. I put out a big tray of veggies before every meal as I cook dinner and the kids gobble it up. Kids naturally choose foods that are colorful and full of flavor so pick quality produce and you’ll have no problem. Also ensure kids get a lot of fat in their diets... see the Weston Price Foundation for more information. Kids need a lot of GOOD fat for proper development ... at times up to 60%!

What is your training like?

Oh boy, the secret comes out. There is no method to the madness. My life used to fit in around my training and now it’s the other way around. Since the girls were born, I’ve really had to modify so I typically run at least an hour per day, five or six days a week. Throughout the summer I do a lot of mountain running on the weekends (20 to 50K on trails and mountain passes). But during the week I just do what I can.

During the racing season, I do at least one good speed workout day and one hill-training day a week. I am fortunate to live very close to an ideal training ground that has a lot of hills. I mix it up and go as hard as I can whenever I can!

With a mainly plant-based diet, how do you get enough protein?

I get protein from organic and, if possible, wild meat and fish. I eat a lot of organic eggs, wild salmon, bison, deer, chicken and turkey. I use only Vega for protein powder and meal supplements for my family. They are the cleanest and best I have every found and really have a lot of protein for a vegan source!


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