Monthly Archives: May 2009

Will Surf for Food

Okay, I’ll admit it: in the old days, I didn’t care what I was eating, as long as I didn’t gain weight! But when I started to make the connection between what I ate and how I felt, I began an intense study of nutrition which ultimately led me to becoming certified as a nutritionist and weight and lifestyle management coach — which turned out to be a perfect complement to my yoga training.

These days, I still eat what I like — but what I like is usually what makes me feel energized, healthy and satisfied!

The bottom line when it comes to choosing food that nourishes and sustains you is to figure out how that food personally affects you.

For example, I learned that — as much as I love it — whole wheat toast gives me indigestion. These days, I enjoy rice bread instead, and my digestive system — and my taste buds — are happy.

When it comes to a pre-surf meal, you want to make sure that you’ve got something that’s easily digestible and gives you sustained energy. This will take a little trial and error on your part. I learned (very quickly!) that surfing after eating Mexican food is not a good idea. Ditto for donuts. Think about it: you want something that will give you high quality nourishment so you can surf with sustained energy!

Here’s what I usually have before my morning surf.

power smoothie photoPeg’s Power Green Smoothie

· 2 scoops rice protein powder (that’s my personal preference — it’s free of artificial ingredients and sweeteners) or 1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt

· 1 cup fruit (try frozen berries for a thicker smoothie) or 2 pieces of fruit like a banana and an apple

· 2-3 leaves of romaine lettuce (for more fiber, minerals and vitamins)

· 1-2 stalks celery or 1/2 cucumber (good for your blood pressure)

· 1 cup water (or less if using yogurt)

· 2 or 3 ice cubes if desired

Blend it all up enjoy! This usually tides me over for a good one-two hour surf session.

On colder mornings, I love a bowl of hot cream of rice cereal. I can digest it better than oatmeal, but oatmeal is a great choice, too! Then I toss in some almond butter for healthy fat and some yogurt for my protein. Nice and simple and very filling.

I recently interviewed Dr. David L. Katz, MD of Yale University for an article I wrote for Clean Eating magazine. He says that it’s okay to work out on an empty stomach, but how well your body performs in the morning depends a lot on how well you ate the day before.

Some surfers (like Tom Carroll) prefer not eating at all before dawn patrol. This is actually a fine choice, if you’re someone who can just get up and go without eating. But, please keep in mind that this approach requires that you be very well-nourished on a regular basis. If you just had pizza and a beer the night before and then get up to surf the next morning, you won’t have any high-octane fuel in your tank. Instead, enjoy a satisfying meal like roasted chicken, baked potatoes and vegetables.

So fill up on natural, wholesome healthy food that you enjoy and make the connection between what you eat and how you feel. In time, you’ll begin to intuitively select those foods that truly nourish you mind, body and spirit!

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What to Eat Before Going Surfing

Peggy Hall warming up before paddling out at State Park

Peggy Hall warming up before paddling out at State Park

Q: What should I eat before going surfing? A: Great question! What we eat directly affects our performance in the water. Just like cars, our bodies require premium fuel in order to work best.

If you’ve ever been enjoying a great session and then 30 minutes into it, your arms start to feel like lead or (gasp!) your quick pop-up is more like a slow-motion stumble, then most likely you’re running on empty.

Here’s what to do to make sure you have enough energy and endurance to surf for as long as you like.

First, even more important that what you eat is what you drink. If you start your day with anything that starts with “grande” and ends with “latte”, you’re setting yourself up for dehydration and possibly an upset stomach, irritable bowels (nice subject, I know) and early exhaustion.

It might seem like a dose of caffeine is just the thing to get you going — and one cup of coffee (about 6 ounces) isn’t going to do any harm — but, more than that and you start to fool around with your body pumping out a bunch of adrenaline, cortisol, insulin — hormones that will leave you jittery and anxious instead of energized.

Plus, you want that adrenaline to be available for when you’re paddling into the biggest wave of the set — instead of being depleted and then you hair out at the last minute. So…. if you’ve gotta have your coffee, enjoy one cup and leave out the sugar and the fake sugar, too. Add some half-n-half (actually better for you than skim milk or soy — I’ll tell you about that in another post).

Or, try going green — with green tea, that is. It will give you the lift that comes from caffeine (it has about 1/2 that of coffee) but it has other beneficial compounds that will prevent jitters and exhaustion.

Yerba Mate is another great choice — a type of “tea” that is not tea at all but a powerful herb from South America. My husband swapper out coffee for yerba mater and is addicted to that now.

I personally start each day with a cup of hot lemonade. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 an organic lemon into a cup of hot water and add a tablespoon of raw, organic honey or some stevia (natural herbal sweetener) to taste. This will give you a boost of Vitamin C to keep your immune system strong and it also cleanses your digestive tract and purifies your liver so it can burn fat and metabolize other foods more effectively.

Finally, be sure to drink up to 100 ounces of pure water every day — more if you’re a coffee drinker. This will keep you hydrated so your muscles can work and you can surf better longer. Muscle cramps usually come from dehydration, so drink several ounces of water before you paddle out and more when you come back in.

Next up: the best things to eat before and after surfing.

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