I get asked a lot if my eating habits change in the off season. They do change. When I first enter off season, I tend to go a bit crazy: more “fun” foods for a few days to a week and then I settle back into my usual approach: following my hunger eating a diet high in grains, fruits, vegetables, low fat diary and lean protein sources (including nuts and eggs).
I always eat a fairly high quality diet (even when traveling extensively) and I let hunger/fullness levels dictate how much and when to eat. I have a fairly finely tuned appetite and I trust my body to let me know when eat and when to stop (which is different from following cravings/thoughts about food). So when I’m training less, I tend to eat less because basically I’m not as hungry. People have told me that their appetites seem to never slow down even when their training does but I think that may because we eat more from habit or because its time than because we are truly “hungry.”
For the most part, if I have one goal food-wise its to maintain my weight. I don’t calorie count or use the scale much, but I do step on it every week or two. Mostly I can tell by the way I feel and how my clothes fit whether things are on track. If I’m maintaining weight, I continue as I’ve been doing. If not, I take a look at things like stress, sleep, and lifestyle and figure out what needs to come back into balance for my weight to stay steady. After years of being a dietitian, if there’s one thing I’ve learned its that weight is a symptom of everything else that’s going on in your life.
So, effectively my diet in the off season is very simple: same high quality foods as when I’m training, just smaller amounts.