An Epic Pizza Story That Can Rival The Lord of the Rings!A story about nutrition, relationship with pizza, and a happy end with tips on eating on the go as a bonus in the end.
Let me start by telling you an epic pizza story that can rival Lord of the Rings! Do you know that moment when you get excited as much as a child for Christmas? Well, I had exactly that kind of experience on Thursday.
I came across a vegan bistro with 5 star ratings. The only problem was that it was about 150km from where I live. Coincidentally, I make business trips on Friday and so I decided to go there for lunch. But things started getting complicated. I had to change my plans, which meant I would not have time to visit the bistro.
BUT I WAS DETERMINED to have my vegan pizza! I mobilized my creativity and started thinking. After a while I figured out, that if I go there by train, I will have 20 minutes to get the pizza while waiting for the next train. If I fail to get it in the 20 minutes span, I would have to wait for another hour for the next train breaking my plans.
Considering my experience that trains there are always about 10 minutes late that would leave me with 10 minutes. No way I can get there and back to station to catch my next train within 10 minutes… … and so I agreed with them on delivery to the train station. Excellent!
Everything went better than expected. Although the train was 15 minutes late it was perfectly O.K. because as I arrived to the station, the delivery guy was parking. You can imagine my eyes sparkling in excitement! Quick exchange of money for goods and my happy face on top of that plus tip for the guy for the extra service!
Being all excited I opened the box. It did not look good, certainly not as good as on photos but I thought to myself that the taste is important. I grabbed the first triangle and started chewing…wait should pizza be chewy?
The pizza was wet and anything but enjoyable to eat. It was such a disappointment! Yet I was determined to enjoy my pizza that day! I carried it for the seven hours with me to finish it at home… But that is not the end of the story.
After finishing my pizza I was wondering about its nutrition because I currently track my calories and macros. We know that whole foods are much more nutrient dense while lower in calories and to lose weight you’d better use whole foods. My goal is not weight loss but eating healthy meals that support my training, life, vitality, and mind.
Without hesitation, I input nutrition data into cronometer and I was left horrified. Well, judge for yourself.
On the left side is included nutrition from the pizza and on the right side is my typical lunch. Notice the difference in fat content and protein content. The pizza was topped with a lot of vegan cheese, which is mostly fat. The taste was good so if you are after cheesy taste, go for it but I will prioritize nutrition any day.
My typical meal
The store-bought vegan cheese from the brand I am not going to name was pretty much coconut fat with added B-12. “Great”. I don’t want to demonize fats here, but if the majority of nutrition comes from fat without added vitamins and minerals, it is not beneficial besides getting weight.
In the end of the day, I had reached and surpassed my fat & sodium goals (sodium tends to be very high in processed foods as well) and at the same time did not manage to meet vitamin requirements and not even protein requirements!
From this experience, I can clearly see how a person can become malnourished if
- they don’t track their nutrition,
- tend to rely mostly on processed foods instead of using whole foods.
This brings a question what to eat when you are on the move? Remember what Sam did while accompanying Frodo to Mordor?
Sam was smart enough to pack food with himself. Packaging your own food will always be the best strategy as long as you want to have total control over what you eat. However, it is not always possible and therefore I will share with you my strategies that I use when I am on the move.
When you will be away for a day, it might be redundant to package and take the food with yourself. I personally do it anyway because I found out that I have trouble eating well outside. That is because there are not many vegan-friendly restaurants in Slovakia and I refuse to pay more for rice and a side salad than for a full (omni) meal. But well, that is an option as well.
Besides buying foods in restaurants, you can also buy food in a grocery store and improvise on the go. Buy some kind of bread, maybe a vegetable or two and pre-packaged food. What you can find in a grocery store widely depends on where you live and how much vegan food can be found in the store.
Fruits + nuts is a safe bet. If you can find a soy yogurt, you will have a pretty good combination from both, caloric and nutritional standpoint.
Pre-packed Meals to Take with You
As I am on the go every Friday, I started packaging and taking meals with me. However, I do not take cooked meals with me as there is a danger that they could spill in my bag.
Sam had it right when he packed dried foods. Simple foods like rolled oats with raisins and nuts are my go-to meal to take with me and when it comes to eating it, I just add water and voila! You have a delicious, simple food. Even better is that you can buy these things anywhere, as mentioned above.
If you are after something more, I advice baked meals. They are dehydrated, which is especially important in hot weather as they will not get spoiled as fast. Another baked meal that I take for my races where I stay overnight is a mixture of cooked beans, vegetables, and rice/buckwheat. Mix it all together and bake it in the oven. Simple, satisfying and effective.
When you know you will be traveling, there is a chance you will have an opportunity to cook. In that case, it is easy. You will function as any other day.
The challenges can come if you stay in a hotel or abroad. In that case, the best you can do is to make a research upfront. That is especially applicable for athletes as you don’t want to experiment with foods before your race. Leave it for after competition and stick to your normal foods until then.
To sum it up, you should align your food choices with your goals. Although everybody benefits from eating whole-foods, junk food has its place if consumed from time to time and in smaller quantities.
The main point of this entry was to point out how the food industry can make it hard for you to reach your goals as the high fat and sodium usage is the common denominator.
I had known about high-fat use, it was nothing new to me, yet experiencing it was a whole new thing to me as I cook for myself, don’t use oil and eat “clean”. Preparation, in that case, plays an important part as it helps tremendously to stick with one’s diet.
If you have any questions, comments, or want to share your experience feel free to do so below.