No one can argue that there is little substitute for a solid well-balanced diet to fuel athletic performance. How is it that in the Western modernized world we make it harder than it has to be?
I don’t buy into the excuse of “we’re” too busy; so fast food is all we can get in us during a day. (At least not on some consistent basis.)
I do not buy into blaming “marketing” and “advertising”. (What – We’re that weak-minded advertisers rule our lives?)
No. As I observe human behaviors (including my own tendencies) as related to food and eating I see three primary faults.
Our #1 problem is that our food portions are oversized. They are oversized in restaurants – even the “healthy” ones. For some reason we have conditioned ourselves to “cleaning our plates”. Yes, I know this well. I was brought up like that as were many of you. We have conditioned ourselves to see leaving anything on our plates as waste of food or waste of money (Someone is starving somewhere so I better eat it. Or, I paid for it so I better eat it.) Oh yes, and if it tastes good we have to have seconds. And of course by eating more we are demonstrating to our – cook, chef, host – how much we like it. It’s a choice.
Our second problem is that we are lazy. I know because I’ve coached people with the busiest of lifestyles who find ways to eat healthy and in appropriate proportions. And I’ve coached those who struggle with weight and continue to snack or grab what is available. The former group of individuals take time to pack lunches and snacks that fit the “healthy” definition. And the latter group leave their daily nutrition to chance. As a fallout we then resort to quick fixes. Those include fad diets and supplements that keep a multi-billion dollar industry thriving. That dupes us into thinking we’re being “healthy” by adding pills, powders and shakes to our diet. But it’s fast and for that busy person – voila – instant remedy. Single parent, busy executive, business owner, world traveler – the issue of “being too busy” is a myth. It’s an excuse. The proof is in watching individuals in similar life situations just do it and those who don’t. But it’s all a choice.
The third consistent contributor to diet busting is social pressures. Most of us cannot find tactful ways to say “no” to that home baked goodie at work. Or find ways to be sociable at that afterwork gathering without filling our faces. After all, it wouldn’t be “sociable” and might even be “rude” not to partake. Right? Someone offers, you should accept. It’s a choice.
Our diets and the effect they have on our performances are ours and ours alone. We have choices for snacks and meals – no matter how busy. We have choices on meals – no matter how busy or where we are. We control what passes our lips into our bodies. It’s a choice. Those who accept responsibility of the choice do better. And those who don’t – make excuses.
The fact is that we consume more than ever. Calorie consumption per capita increased 20 percent between 1982 and 2000 according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). ERS data suggest that average daily calorie intake in- creased by 24.5 percent, or about 530 calories, between 1970 and 2000 (Economic Research Service, USDA). That is an additional pound per week. Or as a runner – it’s and ADDITIONAL 35 miles per week you need to run just to come out even.
That is not chance. So, when do we take back personal responsibility? When do we as athletes make our nutrition our priority? It’s not about being fanatic. It’s not about being a crusader. It’s just a choice.