Why I Eat the Same Thing for Lunch Every Day: World-Class Runner

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)

When it comes to lunch, some feel that variety is overrated. Just as the fashion world has been spotting creative, successful people who wear the same thing every day — freeing their minds of mundane daily decisions to put their energy elsewhere — we’ve been noticing a few smart people who choose to eat the same lunch, day in and day out.

This week we’re sharing five stories of five different people who are successful in different ways — in their health goals, in their creative pursuits — and find the habit of a uniform-style lunch to give simplicity and freedom.

Next month, my mom will turn 67 years old. She can run a mile in under six-and-a-half minutes, a 5K in 22 minutes, and she recently ran a half-marathon with her other daughter, 20 years her junior, in a time of 1:46. Her times put her in the top 10 percent of her age group, which classifies her as a World-Class runner.

Her diet is a part of her training program. For longer races, even the 10K, every ounce counts, but she also likes to enjoy life. Here’s why she eats the same thing for lunch every day, as told to her daughter (me).

(Image credit: Joseph Campbell)

I wasn’t always a runner. As a girl growing up in small-town Germany, we didn’t have the same organized sports that my children had in suburban New Jersey. But I did love to run, mostly barefoot. And I loved to jump, too.

It wasn’t until my children were teenagers that I started running, although I’m not sure I would really call it running — more like jogging with my friend Peg. She was an experienced runner with many marathons under her belt, but boy was she slow. Before long, I was leaving her in the dust.

But after years of shuttling my kids between school and swim practice and school and track practice and school and lacrosse practice, I was 20 pounds above my ideal running weight. My initial daytime eating regimen was a bit extreme (a bagel and a bottle of water, combined with marathon training), and I quickly dropped the weight. It wasn’t pretty — my face was gaunt and my clothes were baggy — but it made a big difference on the race course and I was able to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I’ve experimented a lot over the past 20 years since I started running and I’m always evaluating what’s best for my training, but right now I have a pretty steady eating routine.

My Daily Eating Routine

In the morning, I get up and have coffee with just a tiny bit of sugar. I love coffee and I probably drink too much, but they’re saying it’s healthy and I’m going with it. After that, I put in my run — which might be an easy run, a workout, or a long run — and I usually pack two small water bottles filled with a sports drink.

When I get back, I have an English muffin with peanut butter and honey. It’s delicious, or as I like to say, “It tastes like more,” but I just have one. It fills me up for a few hours, and then I’ll have a plain Greek yogurt and an orange. If I get hungry, I’ll have an apple. And that’s it until dinnertime.

It probably sounds pretty boring to eat the same thing for lunch every day, but I know exactly how many calories I’m consuming. My regimen keeps me in shape for my races and also allows me to splurge a little at night.

I eat whatever I want for dinner, usually pizza or pasta — I need those carbs! — plus a big salad with greens, tomatoes, red onions, and some cheese. I also like to have a glass of red wine (or two). I deserve it!