The more I learn about nutrition, the more I realize I how much more there is to learn. It can be overwhelming. Like most things, educating yourself on nutrition needs to be an active process. Everyone seems to have different theories on nutrition and it is subject to trends and fads. You have to do your best to sort through it all and establish a balanced plan that works for you.
As a kid growing up and even throughout high school, one thing determined most my food decisions -- taste. Making a healthy food choice meant adding pineapple to my pizza. This changed my sophomore year at Georgetown, living with my teammate and good friend Nick Miaritis. Nick, one of the more intelligent (and eccentric) guys that I know, was meticulous when it came to nutrition. Eating with Nick was funny/annoying. His meal never came as it read on the menu. A classic sub would be fries for asparagus. You mean you are willingly subbing fries for asparagus? Are you crazy? Nick definitely took a lot of heat for his uncommon food choices. If not for his Greek/Sicilian charm, I'm sure waitresses serving Nick would have been pretty agitated.
If you are a healthy eater in college, you are definitely in the minority.
What I started to notice was those little substitutions were adding up and Nick became one of the most well-conditioned players on our team. It was attention to detail.
For the next three years, Nick, and my other good friends Andy Corno and Mike White lived together, took many of the same classes together, and obviously played lacrosse together -- we were around each other a lot. The four of us kept each accountable.
Nick's eating habits really rubbed off on us. I have now become that annoying guy at restaurants. On road trips with the Wings I have to either pack my own meals, or find a local grocery store to have a little more control over what I'm eating, or I feel "off."
Since I have become more aware of my nutrition, I have noticed not only a big difference in my performance, but also my day to day mood and energy level.
The challenge is, our society doesn't make it easy to eat well. Turn on any sporting event and what do we typically see during commercial breaks? Mostly beer and fast food advertisements, in many cases endorsed by prominent athletes. Aaron Rogers, spokesperson for Pizza Hut, MacDonalds, primary sponsor of the Olympics, I believe Peyton Manning is even a Papa Johns owner...
As an athlete, it is difficult to navigate through our food industry, especially with highly respected sports figures endorsing products that compromise athletic performance (and overall health). What would happen if we saw Aaron Rogers endorsing cigarettes? He likely would be ridiculed. So what is the difference? You could argue that the health risks associated with eating Pizza Hut would be comparable to smoking cigarettes.
I can't say that I totally blame athletes like Rogers or Manning. There is a lot of money at stake and a small window for athletes to capitalize. I happen to like Aaron Rogers as an athlete and if in his position, I would have a difficult time saying no to the money, so I don't want to sound holier than thou. That said, I think it is important for people that are in positions of influence to lead by example.
It is kind of counterintuitive, but as I have learned more over the years, my view of a healthy, balanced diet has simplified. Michael Pollan summed it up perfectly for me. "Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants." I keep this mind when make food decisions.
Big weekend coming up for the Wings. Hope to see you on Sunday at 4 p.m., as we host the Colorado Mammoth for the Bark in the Bowl game, where fans are actually encouraged to bring their dogs to the game. If you would like to see a great display of lacrosse talent, watch #24 John Grant Jr. on the Mammoth.
We will be doing our best to contain him and the rest of the Mammoth squad on Sunday.