I remember when Novak Djokovic first became a household name for me, back in 2011. He was already a famous tennis star, but that year he became nearly unbeatable and ascended to no. 1 in the world. When asked about the secret to his recent success, he credited the latest addition to his already strict training regimen: a gluten-free diet.
As a dietitian, I had mixed feelings. I know firsthand that celebrity endorsements of certain diets can sometimes cause well-meaning fans to jump on a bandwagon that may not be appropriate for them, especially when it involves adopting a diet that includes voluntary avoidance of a wide variety of foods.
On the other hand, I was thrilled to see an elite athlete credit nutrition for such a dramatic shift in his game. I dove in and learned that Novak had been suffering with digestive issues, and worked with a nutritionist to develop his dietary strategy. He didn’t just replace gluten, a naturally occurring protein found in wheat products, with gluten-free substitutes that are often highly processed. Rather, he took a whole foods approach and eats a diet mostly based on vegetables, legumes, lean meats and fish, fruit, nuts, seeds and healthy fats. Additionally, he cooks almost every meal himself, and incorporates yoga, meditation, mindfulness and good sleep.
“Go Further with Food” is the theme for National Nutrition Month 2018. This annual campaign led by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics brings awareness to the importance of nutrition and physical activity. “Go Further With Food” can be interpreted in different ways, but focuses on the idea that the foods you choose can make a real difference.
Here are a few ways you can “Go Further With Food”.
- Make shopping lists. Apps can make this process quick and efficient. They can also alert you of weekly sales and help you compare sale prices. E.g. Grocery IQ and Ibotta
- Read nutrition labels to learn about the nutrients and ingredients in the foods you eat. Limit the amount of added sugars and aim for 35-45 grams of fiber each day. Learn the basics of the nutrition facts label.
- Prepare meals at home. To simplify, use recipes with less ingredients and few steps. Make one-pot meals to save on clean-up time. Prepare extra servings to create your own frozen meals. Prep this Asian Brown Rice Bowl ahead of time and have ready to eat during the week.
- Cross-utilize ingredients to save money and waste less. Also, this prevents ingredients from expiring and encourages you to get creative with your dishes.
- Freeze any leftover fruits and veggies before they go bad and use them in your next smoothie.
There are many benefits to meal planning. Who doesn’t want to save money and time, stress less, eat healthier, and add more variety into their diet! Find a local qualified registered dietitian for food and nutrition advice. Learn more about our medical nutrition therapy program.