A recipe for success

The Olympics are just days away now and like many others who live, work and play in this mountain town, my world is about to get turned upside down. I'm among the many who will be working some seriously weird hours for about three weeks straight.

With our schedules thrown way out of whack, it follows that our eating habits will probably be shaken up a bit, too. Long days, little sleep and a fair share of partying will add up to an overall lack of energy. And since a solid night's sleep may not be an option during the Games, people should be keeping a close eye on their diets, making a few key food choices that could change their entire Olympic experience (for the better).

According to Michelle Blunden, a fitness trainer and nutritionist at The Core, diet is very closely linked with energy levels.

"You wouldn't fill your car with crap, so why fill your body with it?" she succinctly surmised.

Preparation is key to staying healthy and energized during the Games.

For the very organized among us, Blunden suggests preparing casseroles and soups in advance, then freezing portions to take with you.

"If you're not that organized, try to plan it slightly in advance if you can, just in terms of what's going to be available to you when you go somewhere," she said. "So what are they going to have in the Games? I mean, hot chips and stuff like that, obviously you want to stay away from those."

If preparing meals in advance sounds like too much effort you should at least stock up on the essentials and some key portable power foods like fruit, high-fibre granola bars, raw energy mix (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, cashews and raisins), yogurt, whole-grain crackers, avocado, tuna, baby carrots, cucumber, hummus, cottage cheese and salsa.

"These are going to fulfill you and keep your energy a lot more constant," she explained.

By choosing snacks like these, you won't have highs and lows and sugar crashes like you get with quick, naughty treats like cookies.

"You're going to get that satisfaction initially, but because that sugar is just going to rush into your blood stream, your insulin is going to be pushed out to attract it and bind it away, so basically what happens is your blood sugar just drops and you get quite tired and become unproductive."

She recommends starting the day off with a solid breakfast that's high in whole grain, high-fibre and protein - oats seasoned and flavoured with fruit, whole grain bagel with cream cheese, avocado or peanut butter, poached eggs, or cottage cheese.

"Anything that's got a little more protein in it will help sustain your energy a lot longer rather than just having toast with butter or jam," she explained. "It's going to last you a lot longer."

After that, people should try and eat small, healthy meals throughout the day to keep their energy levels up.

"Try to eat regularly, about every three hours, which is what people should do anyways, so you're not getting to that stage where you're completely starved and will grab whatever," she said. "Then you're just going to go on that blood sugar level roller coaster."

My fellow caffeine junkies should also consider alternative pick-me-ups during the Games. I had initially planned on bringing my espresso maker into the office and simply living on a steady diet of lattes and cappuccinos, but apparently, that's not such a hot plan.

Blunden points out that in larger quantities, caffeine can be dehydrating. So while one or two cups per day isn't such a bad thing, any more than that can be bad.

"Try and not have too many coffees - go for herbal tea, instead," she suggested, adding that we should be sure to drink plenty of water.

"If you feel kind of hungry and lethargic, it's probably that you're dehydrated moreso than needing food."

Switch to peppermint tea or if you're looking for that extra little boost, green tea, which still has a bit of caffeine, along with a piece of fruit for some natural sugar.

Alcohol, of course, can also play a huge role in how we feel the day after a party. But that doesn't mean you need to cut it out of your diet altogether (let's be realistic).

"So if you go and decide 'I'm just going to have like two glasses of wine,' something like that, enjoy it, rather than just downing it," Blunden said.

It seems that, with a bit of thought and effort, we can use food as fuel for the Games.

"You'll be able to do more if you just plan slightly."




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