More and more athletes are becoming bigger, better, stronger, and faster. This is evident when we look at athletes such as Michael Phelps, and without proper nutrition his body would be incapable of consistently performing at peak levels. Of course, these athletes are all human and they all have their weaknesses such as fast food, cupcakes, chocolates, and chicken wings.
As stated in an article on delish.com, “Carli Lloyd may be fierce on the soccer field, but she might succumb to an opponent if she dangled Lloyd’s all-time favorite dessert, cupcakes, in front of her. Don’t worry, that is an unlikely scenario since the superstar shows restraint, and believes in moderation. ‘I try to follow a strict diet,’ she says, ‘but of course I allow myself to have a dessert or sweet every once in a while.’” As stated by Lloyd, moderation is the key to any diet.
We must view food as the necessary fuel for our bodies. As I always say, the food choices we make today become our new cells tomorrow. However, we must also realize that we are human and that it is ok to indulge once in a while. Allow yourself to have a dessert or sweet and don’t feel guilty. It really is ok. So, when you are at that birthday party, eat a piece of chocolate cake and enjoy a scoop of ice cream. Or when you are out to dinner on the weekend, have those hot wings and french fries that you enjoy so much. But always remember that unhealthy food choices lead to inflammation in the body, and inflammation has been proven to be the underlying cause of type2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, and certain lifestyle cancers.
So, to reiterate, moderation is the key to any diet and junk in means junk out. The bottom line is by regularly eating a lot of fresh fruit, salads, and whole grains paired with proper levels of protein and carbs, you will be able to consistently perform at peak levels and maintain optimal health. And the occasional snack won’t hold you back from performing at peak levels.
You need to be aware that you are ultimately in control of the foods you bring into your home. Poor eating habits and poor food choices will have detrimental effects on your health and most importantly the health of your family. One in every three of our nation’s children are overweight or obese and this is directly due to the foods we carry daily into our homes. It is imperative for your health, and the health of your family, that you avoid bringing food laden with sugar or fat into your home, and have lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts on hand.
Take care of those athletes (desk jockeys, road warriors, armchair quarterbacks, student athletes, or high school superstars, etc.) in your life by making wise food choices and indulging only in moderation. And if you are reaching for the Gold or whatever your goal may be at the end of the day, proper nutrition is necessary.
To get you started, this is what your typical menu should consist of:
Morning: Start your day with whole grain cereal, an organic egg or two, oatmeal, or perhaps a cup of yogurt topped with berries and a drizzle of honey. Did you know that the most common breakfast of most Olympic athletes is oatmeal?
Snack: Follow-up later in the morning with a snack of dried or fresh fruit, a cup of applesauce with cinnamon and raisins, or a handful of nutrient-rich almonds. Did you know that almonds are a great source of magnesium?
Lunch: A delicious chicken salad or wrap, roasted vegetables, and fresh cantaloupe.
Snack: A banana with peanut butter and raisins or a crispy, juicy apple.
Dinner: Fish or chicken, a salad, and asparagus and some sautéed zucchini. And always remember that 70% of your plate should be filled with vegetables and 30% of your plate should be a lean protein such as chicken or fish. Did you know that with 95% water by weight, zucchini is one of the most hydrating vegetables you can eat and it is an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients?
Express Dinner: For those of you who are really on the go, revamp your grilled cheese sandwich by using whole grain bread and adding spinach, swiss or other aged cheese, and mushrooms or tomatoes if you like. Then, pair that sandwich with a warm bowl of tomato bisque soup and some fresh fruit and you will have dinner ready in world record time.
Some other snack ideas chosen by Olympic athletes include:
- Celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter
- Vegetable sticks dipped in salsa
- A fruit plate
- Fruit salad
- Rice cake covered with peanut butter and topped with raisins or nuts
- Frozen grapes
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Whole grain bread or pita bread with peanut butter
- Dried fruits
- Whole grain crackers or brown rice chips with hummus or bean dip
- Fruit smoothies
- Tortilla with melted cheese and salsa or rolled with refried beans and cheese
- A whole grain muffin
- Be creative with your food. Search online for new healthy recipes and make sure that the food you serve is visually appealing.
The event is Health. You are the athlete. Set the world record in your event – make wise food choices and go for the Gold.