Why is the Hungry Athlete so hungry?

I grew up watching The French Chef (Julia Child) and The Galloping Gourmet (Graham Kerr) on TV.  I was convinced that Graham was the nicest man on earth and dreamt of learning his knife skills. It was like a classroom to me. Sitting attentively with a note pad, I’d scribble down the ingredients, most of which I still have today. In 5th grade, I took my first after school cooking class with Mrs. Weiss, where I learned how to make the best coleslaw and pizza fondue. By 7th grade, I was making Julia Child’s French piroutte cookies for my classmates.

The apple did not fall far from the tree. I was the sous chef for some complicated Thai desserts my mother spent hours teaching herself how to prepare. For years, my father was obsessed with perfecting his chocolate mousse recipe. We did not overindulge though. Healthy, fresh whole foods and regular physical activity were a part of our lifestyle.

Then, after my father’s younger brother passed away from heart disease, dad decided to become a vegetarian. His brother was in his early 40’s. My father was lean and exercised regularly, however high blood pressure and cholesterol ran in the family. A lover of sushi and cheese, dad even omitted seafood and dairy from his diet. Educated as a doctor of western medicine, dad chose food and exercise as his prescription.  The decision to change his diet probably extended his lifespan. He successfully lowered his blood pressure and cholesterol. Today dad is no longer a vegetarian because, well … he likes sushi, cheese and ice cream, among other things. Still, he rarely eats any animal products.

From observing my father, I learned at a young age how powerful food can be. It wasn’t until I started doing triathlons, though, that I sought to learn more about nutrition. Like many endurance athletes, I struggled to digest the right amount of nutrition and calories.  Fortunately for me, Stanford University offered courses in food science, diet and sports nutrition. They were all taught by Dr. Clyde Wilson PhD, an expert on metabolism whose clients included Olympic athletes. While Clyde imparted a wealth of knowledge, one of his  best gifts to the class was how to read research papers with a discerning eye.

You should be reading everything I write about with discernment too. My goal is to model well for my family and peers so that we can all live a long, healthy and yummy life together.