FOOD FOR THOUGHT: ‘Quick and easy’ foods can be ‘displacing foods’, meaning they take the place of a more nutritionally sound option. Cyclists often include these with a view to squeezing in more training instead of prioritising eating well. I see nutrition not just as calories or carbs, but vitamins, minerals, co-factors, enzymes and anti-oxidants.Pancakes. Buckwheat pancakes have been a breakfast favourite for me for a while, especially before riding. I get through quite a bit of milk this way, and generally melt butter on the top and add a sprinkle of sugar or squeeze of honey. When cereal and toast are out of the equation for breakfast (as they are on a gluten free diet) you have to get a bit creative with the options. Like many people I find it difficult to eat meat and fish first thing in the morning unless I am really hungry. I try not to get too attached to gluten free bread so my pancake discovery was a real winner for getting my day off to a cheerful start, especially when I am exercising in the morning. Breakfast is the meal of the day where it’s hardest to include some variety and avoid the ‘easy’ options, so getting to grips with some alternatives will be tricky.FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Most people eat a lot of the same foods, especially for breakfast, and sometimes even having the same lunch every day. Gluten (wheat) and dairy are the two most common food intolerances in the West, partly because we tend to eat so much of them (bread, cereal, pasta, cake, biscuits, milk, cheese). Though these foods are ‘convenient’, many people (including some top cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins) do better without them. For cyclists these foods can become ‘displacing’, getting in the way of including more vegetables, and meat and fish, richer in vitamins, mineral and anti-oxidants.
Custard and cream. I’m coming clean with the ‘pudding’ factor here. Like many cyclists I like thesweet stuff and especially after hard riding or in the winter. Cyclo-cross in particular seems to call for a roast dinner followed by a hot pudding. Home-made apple crumble is a favourite, and what better to pour all over it than custard or cream In fact aside from the dairy itself, I’ve noticed cream is often poured over the sugary stuff.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Anyone else have a pudding problem or is it just me? Most puddings also include both dairy and gluten. If you know any that don’t include either – get in touch! I’m all ears.
Tea. I drink coffee black in the morning, but like one or two cups of tea in the afternoon with milk. I monitor my caffeine intake and coach my clients to avoid caffeinated beverages after 2pm. Including caffeine after this time can affect your sleep. I’m never tempted by coffee in the afternoon but I sometimes sneak in a cup of tea around 4 or 5pm. Cutting out dairy means losing the afternoon tea. No bad thing.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: A cup of coffee (or tea) is never far from a cyclist but caffeine after 2pm can impair your sleep quality and recovery from training. My record breaker for coffee consumption was a rugby player who was drinking 20 cups of instant every day. At least if he was a cyclist it would have been decent coffee
Chocolate. And last but not least, there is the queen of all dairy foods – chocolate. I am not a chocoholic by any means, but I bet if I wrote down what I ate for a whole month, there would be fair few chocolate bars in there. In fact if I get stuck for food out on a ride I have found that a Snickers bar hits the spot for me preventing ‘le bonk’ without causing too much digestive distress. The Cyclists favourite of cake is out of the question out on the road or at races (because of the gluten) and most ‘performance bars’ are gluten based too. The nuts in a snickers bar seem to slow down the sugar just enough to make it manageable. See this is what happens. You start to justify dodgy food choices because you are an ‘athlete’.