Last week I presented to Oceania Badminton Player Development Group about lessons I’ve learnt as a high-performance athlete. It was awesome to be in a room of such eager minds and bodies from the Island nations.
One of the big topics we touched on was nutrition and food philosophy based on my experiences as an Olympic athlete. My interest in performance nutrition has not wavered since I retired from competitive athletics. I guess this is because I know I feel good when I eat well. And eating well doesn’t necessarily mean green smoothies and vegetables 24/7. Certainly, there’s a lot more treat foods that are definitely more frequent in what I eat now especially in this pregnancy but I’m a big believer in everything in moderation (including moderation).
How I like to eat…
Hands down, I love food. I can eat. I mean really eat if I want to. However, I know that I’d be the size of a house if I did because I don’t have the time availability to exercise as much as I used to. So, I here are some hacks on how I like to eat. Call them ‘rules’ or not but it’s how I like to live…
Eat real food
Avoid the packaging and the processed crap if you can. Real food doesn’t have stuff added to it to make it last on the shelf longer.
Shop on the edges of the supermarket
The real food lives on the outsides of the supermarket. Think fruit, vege, meat, seafood, dairy, nuts and seeds. I still go into the guts of the supermarket but intentionally focus on the outsides for the good of my insides.
Protein is king or queen
I think particularly women shy away from protein. Let’s face it we have a tendency to be carb creatures. Carbs lighten our soul but certainly do not lighten the load. Too many carbs not only won’t truly fill us up but they leave us with empty energy (stored as fat). I try to have some form of protein with every meal. I eat the bulk of my carbs earlier in the day and in and around exercise.
Vegetables particularly dark leafy green ones are packed full of nutrients. As an athlete, I always was trying to eat anti-inflammatory foods (for example dark leafy vege, foods high in anti-oxidants and high in omegas like salmon or fish). I don’t restrict my vegetable intake and sneak in vegetables into smoothies or baking if possible. I do restrict high starchy vegetables.
In short…. watch what you put in your cake hole!
It’s really easy (for most) to woof down food and then think shit did I just scoff that whole packet? Sorry love, yes you did. Conscious eating and savoring what we’re actually putting in our mouths is really important. Being aware of texture, taste and how food makes us among other things can help satisfy hunger and other senses. Try to slow down, breathe, eat sitting down, chew your food and minimize other distractions (i.e. your phone).
Having competed in power to weight events as a heptathlete and high jumper, food has played an important role in preparing for training and competition and recovering in between training and competitions. I can be extremely disciplined but I can recognise that you need to loosen the reins from time to time. I looked forward to after every heptathlon eating a large Hawaiian pizza and ice cream (then having a mild food coma). Food is an important pillar in society today and a huge part of Samoan culture. In order to live a full life we need to fuel our bodies with the good stuff. That’s why I chose to eat well to be well!