As I have previously written, the most common question I have been asked this summer has been “how do you train for skiing during the summer?” Somewhat to my surprise, the second most common question has been “are you following any sort of diet while you train?” I am pleased to report that the simple answer to this question is NO!
I love food. I often joke with my skiing friends that the only reason we train hard is so that we can eat and nap more often! I consider myself very fortunate because I was raised in a family where we eat all our meals together at the table, eat out only exceptionally, never order food in, and have always had access to vegetables. I find the phenomenon of food deserts terrifying. I learned to cook for myself at a relatively early age thanks to various camping trips, and quite enjoy it.
Here are my thoughts/rules on food:
– eat when hungry.
– every day should ideally begin with porridge.
– don’t mess around with being a vegetarian if you want to be a successful athlete. I sympathize with many reasons for being a vegetarian, but I have heard too many horror stories of vegetarianism gone wrong.
– this doesn’t mean that every meal needs meat – perhaps just 2-3 dinners a week, and some salami or ham on sandwiches for lunch.
– it’s perfectly acceptable to eat a 750g tub of yogurt in a single sitting as a snack.
– if in doubt, start by frying some onions.
– I drink on average 1 beer a week now that I’m training seriously.
– couscous is your best friend if you are in a hurry.
– don’t fear the calorie – it’s just a unit of energy – energy you need to live!
– low/no fat versions of products are invariably inferior to their full fat cousins.
– don’t over-think it – humans are natural omnivores who have evolved to live healthily in all sorts of climates where all sorts of different foods are available.
Porridge – many of my friends will tell you that I am very particular about my porridge. I believe that the only food deserving to be called porridge needs to be cooked from slow cooking rolled oats (no instant, quick, steel cut or other cheap/currently fashionable rubbish). One part oats will be mixed with 2% or heavier milk and brought to a slow boil. Continue simmering until the desirable consistency is reached. Consume warm without sugar, jam, raisins, cinnamon or other such frivolities. Any exceptions to these rules will result in the meal being referred to as oatmeal or gruel. Oatmeal and gruel are acceptable substitutions for porridge on camping trips or other situations where supplies and time are limited – as long as they are not presented as true porridge. If your day starts before 6am you may be permitted to cook your oats and milk in a microwave, but this practice is frowned upon.
Below I’ll show some pictures of a typical meal for me. I like to call my school of cuisine the Bachelor’s Delight approach (yes ladies, I’m still single). Begin by searching for a wide array of foods in the home and come up with a unique way of combining them. Try to include carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and remember that a good spice supply is your best friend. Bon appétit!