Twitter Questions Answered Part 1: Diet and Europe
There are a few unspoken rules that I lean towards when considering my diet:
1) FOOD IS FUEL
Food is truly your fuel. What you put into your body, and when is exactly like filling up a car. If you want your body to run like a Ferrari or Porsche, you have to put premium gas in the tank; and you should never let the tank run empty for fear of damaging the car. If you would never put low grade gas in a good car, why would you put poor fuel into your body.
As athletes our engines are constantly running. I am one of the biggest eaters on my team, and I listen to my body when it tells me that it is hungry. I bring snacks on the hill and sometimes eat them on the tbar just to get the nutrients in my body because some days I actually feel like I need the food, which gives me a boost in energy to finish my runs. I eat a lot. I eat many times during the day and I eat a lot of calories, but that is okay. Calories have received this stigma that they are bad, however calories are what makes our bodies run. Too many calories and our bodies can't process them, too few calories and we are running on empty. When you are using many calories throughout the day, you have to eat these calories.http://www.stepawayfromthechocolate.com
I know that at times we all cheat. I love fresh baked cookies and ice cream, but this is a general rule that I follow. When I do indulge, or at times over indulge, I never substitute my good food for the bad food. I usually eat both.
Our bodies are our machines, we have to keep them fuelled well, oiled up and ready to go. This is why it is important to know what foods are good and why. For example, avocados are a source of good fat that can balance your cholesterol, cranberries have been associated with kidney health and paprika is said to be good for your eyes.
2) EVERYTHING IN MODERATION
My mom always told me to eat everything in moderation. Of course most of us think of that joke where the woman says, "Drink in moderation? Why I only have one glass of wine a day," but of course the glass of wine might as well be as big as a fish tank. Others might think of a slice of cake or an ice cream sandwich made with fresh cookies with the chocolate still melting filled with cookie dough ice cream (now you know my weakness). And of course these things ring true. I try to eat my "bad foods" or foods with no real purpose, in moderation. Of course, as an alpine athlete I indulge, and a piece of chocolate on a bad day seems to fix everything, however I try to do this in moderation, maybe a few times a week.
However, this rings true for all types of food. Of course eggs are good for you, but too many eggs can be harmful to you or cause an egg intolerance. Avacados are a great source of good fat, however you don't want an excessive amount of fat in your diet and also, why not try a flax seed oil or good nuts from time to time. I love dairy and yogurt, but I recently found out that I am intolerant to almost every type of dairy you can think of. I think this is because I thought that most dairy was good for me, so I never used moderation. Now that I have had to cut this out of my diet, I wish that I had lean sausages some mornings instead of yogurt every morning.
3) THE MORE COLOURFUL THE BETTER
As a rule, the more colourful the food, the better. When I am at home I am able to cook/bake/blend whatever I want. I try to use types of food that I have never tried before. Sometimes it tastes great, while other times... it really doesn't.
This is a recipe for my favourite smoothie- kale, carrots, banana, cucumber, pure coconut water, bosc pear, and ginger. Sometimes I add beats for a little more colour.
4) THE SIMPLER THE BETTER
(I always buy natural peanut butter, with no salt added, but this is a good example)
Another general rule to go by is, the simpler the better. In North America we usually can’t understand half of the ingredients in our food. This is what is tough to avoid, but if you try to make things yourself they are usually healthier. This is a huge reason why I love being at home. I can make a quinoa salad with cucumber, peppers, carrots, mangos, chicken, and lentils, with my own dressing on top.
** However, with all of that said, I spend the majority of the year in Europe eating off of a fixed menu. When they serve us schnitzel and fries, we eat schnitzel and fries or else we don’t get a meal, and an unhealthy meal is better than no meal at all after 4h of training. In Europe we try to be as healthy as possible, but we also have to eat what is served to us. I usually bring oatmeal to breakfast to try to avoid the white breads with jam. Yet, Europe has a different quality of food than we do. The dairy is fresher, the bread has less gluten and the pasta in Italy is par to none. I prefer to cook for myself and experiment with new foods such as matcha, chia seeds and kale, but in Europe we eat what we can to fuel our bodies. We also of course chow down on a lava cake now and then, but I always remember… “everything in moderation”, and you must admit when you haven’t had cake in a while it tastes even better when you have that first bite. **
Love and Hate about Europe
Europe is a double-edged sword for me. Here are a few things that I like and dislike about Europe:
Like: I love the old buildings and sloping sidewalks in Europe.
The castles high up on the cliffs offer a distraction during our long drives. I love when the cows walk through the streets when their farmers walk after them, or when there is a pasture at the bottom of a ski hill. It is amazing how huge skiing is in Europe.
There are ski hills everywhere! Skiing in Europe is like hockey in Canada, and it is amazing seeing people get off the train in Innsbruck and walk through the city with skis on their shoulders.
I think it is smart when the toilet has it’s own room. I love that every hotel has a duvet. I love that there are places on the Autobahn with no speed limits. This makes every long drive go by much faster, and it is much more exciting!
Dislike: I really hate that it is hard to find laundry in Europe, and when you do it is usually between $20-$40 for a grocery bag of laundry.
A “double room” in Europe is usually defined as a room with one bed with two mattresses stuck together and two duvets. As a sleeper that moves around a lot, this is not my favourite part about Europe. The thing that I find the hardest about Europe is that I am away from my family. I recently got a cell phone in Europe, so that my family can call me, but there is nothing like picking up the phone in Canada to call my grandparents whenever I want to. It is also very hard to get used to the hours of stores in Europe. After 6 years I finally realize that stores are usually closed on Sundays (although I forget at times), however many stores close for lunch at 12:30 and reopen at 2pm, or at an odd hour around these times. We rarely ever make it to a store at a time that it is open.
Thank you to my twitter followers for your questions. I will get to the rest in my next blog. If anyone has any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask and I will try to get to them.