I’ve been wondering, what’s the best approach for eating when you’re busy and active? Badminton players come in all shapes and sizes. So eating to be a particular size doesn’t seem necessary for this sport.
Athletes have their own indulgences and the restrictions of ‘eating clean’ can backlash. Australian badminton player Sawan Serasinghe posted a facebook photo of his cheat meal after crashing out of the Rio olympics which went viral. It included six portions of large fries, forty nuggets, six brownies, two chicken burgers, two hamburgers, a Big Mac and a Quarter Pounder. It was a 8,369 calorie McDonalds feast.
My diet is far from perfect. I try to eat well but it’s not always simple. My weakness is roasted nuts and dried fruit: whenever I eat too much I feel the side-effects afterwards so I’ve learned to exercise self-control…well sometimes. Joel Gayle’s Badminton School offers some general advice on what to eat after training and before comps. I look at friends and family who seem to be naturally skinny and it seems to be a combination of good genes and eating habits.
I usually eat supper when I get home after an evening badminton session. I love the taste of brown rice so I increase my portion when I get the chance, especially if there’s yummy dishes on the table. It’s a sizeable meal and I worry that it will make me chubby in future when I cut back on playing badminton. I’d like to try prevent this if possible. I’m 5 foot and weight gain shows straight away on my face, hips and thighs. I’m still in my twenties but time eventually catches up with all of us.
Putting weight-worries aside, food helps establish a sense of identity and connection. It’s usually nicer to eat with friends and family than alone. My coach and I have a routine where we go to a local cafe to eat and talk about badminton-related stuff. He’s like a father or mentor-figure to me. You get to meet many people in the Sydney badminton community but only a few are friends and even fewer are close friends. The ones I’m closest to are the ones who I have shared food with.
I’m relatively health conscious and for a typical breakfast and mid-morning snack I take fruit, muesli, yoghurt, peanut butter and chia seeds with honey etc. It’s energy-dense since I get hungry around 11am. For lunch I’ll either bring leftovers from home or buy a sandwich, wrap or two sushi rolls. I have fruit for snacks throughout the day. Dinner is probably my most flexible meal of the day. It’s usually small if I have training or a game in the evening. If I’m having a day off, I can cook and eat at a more leisurely pace. My favourite dishes are fried eggs, fish and stir fried vegetables. Simple to prepare and nutritious.
In my spare time I like to watch cooking shows on youtube because they provide inspiration and entertainment. So I guess food is more than just fuel. It’s universal and complex.