I did an interview with a small local newspaper on Saturday and it ended with a question that seems to be on the minds of many non-athletes: “Do you have to follow a strict diet?” Nearly every one of my co-workers has asked me the same question as if they assume I have an Excel spreadsheet calculating my daily intake.
This is always a difficult question for me to answer. The honest answer would be no, but I don’t want people to think I don’t care about nutrition. Far from it. I was a fat shot putter in high school before dropping 70 pounds in less than a year. Back then I had a strict diet that I would follow. But that experience taught me a lot about nutrition and since then I haven’t ever needed to count calories or worry about my diet. Instead I tend to follow three simple rules now:
- You know what is good for you and what is bad for you. I always try to justify my love of chocolate based on the scientific evidence that shows the health benefits of chocolate. Truth is I just love the taste and a grabbing for a reason. Whether the health claims are true or not, I know deep down that a plate of green beans is better for me.
- Eat food that you’ve cooked. If you want to eat healthy, the best way to do it is know what goes into your meal and cooking it yourself is the best way to do that. In practice this means buy a cookbook (or follow my plan of asking a great cook to marry you), eat out less, eat less processed foods, and avoid supplements. This is much easier for me to do now since I practically have to take out a loan to eat at a restaurant in Zurich.
- Use moderation. I’ve seen too many people ban their favorite foods from their diet, only to binge on them a few weeks later. A strict ban on anything is rarely a good idea. Remember, they call it a “balanced” diet.
The last point is the key. As I said, I love my Swiss chocolate…