Golf and More Than The Normal Spotlight On Nutrition
A brand new decade and a fresh golf season………could there be a better time to revamp and prepare your body for better golf? As much as we hate to admit it, getting older does change things despite your best efforts to ignore it. We have to adapt and change what we can control.
Years ago we didn’t think about food and how it affects our performance on the course. We could eat anything and be OK. Not anymore. Foods are heavily processed with too much sugar, salt, additives and preservatives and are wreaking havoc with our bodies…..and the kids are not immune. Any educators out there can testify to problems dealing with students following a sugar-laden breakfast or a carbed-out lunch. They are either bouncing off the walls or falling asleep; the same goes for us.
Top players take advantage of better nutritional information which probably does not include a hot dog, chips, and a pop at the turn. Don’t rely on past knowledge because everything is evolving as the latest education comes to light. For example,
adopting a Mediterranean diet of whole grains, nuts, olive oils, fruits, vegetables and yes, even red wine and dark chocolate will provide a host of research-backed benefits. The Med diet cuts metabolic syndrome (low HDL, high triglycerides and insulin), lowers your risk of breast cancer, maintains brain health and of special interest to golfers, reduces inflammation, which is the primary source of those aches and pains you attempt to swing around.
Ever have days when you feel jumpy on the golf course and you can’t calm down? Check your diet – you may be on sugar-overload. Consumption of sugar adds to many health woes, not to mention the waistline. Most people falsely assume a ‘not me’ attitude because their spoon doesn’t stray into the sugar bowl. But did you know there is sugar in almost everything?? Even in unlikely sources such as pickles, mustard, mayonnaise, yogurt, crackers, bread, soup bases; virtually anything that is processed or canned will have sugar, often listed under the ‘natural flavoring’ or ‘other spices’ umbrella. That infamous hot dog at the turn contains sugar in the meat, bun, mustard, ketchup, relish – and maybe even the onions, if they aren’t fresh-cut. Add a pop or energy bar to that meal….and watch out!
Let’s talk a skosh more about sugar: Too much sugar is not good for your body. It has only been in recent history – the last 200 years or so – that overconsumption of sugar has even been possible; but once it became plentiful, taste buds began to crave it. Except for WWII when it was rationed, sugar has inched its way into our food and around our waistlines.
Sugar adds calories, has no nutritional value, and goads your body into an insulin and inflammatory response which can surface as diabetes, asthma, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and other ills, not to mention the damage it can do to skin. Yes, skin! Many studies recommend we get no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar a day but a normal person of average size consumes over 30 teaspoons per day. How so, you may ask? Drink 1 can of Coke (10 tsp.) and 1 Gatorade (9tsp.) and you’re about two-thirds of the way there already without eating any solid food! Read your labels……look at the grams of sugar and divide by 4 to approximate the number of teaspoons.
Be especially vigilant of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Despite the brand new ads on television dispelling fears of the chemical – and yes, it is a chemical though it starts out as corn – this ingredient is probably the most troublesome and evil sugar. Attractive to food processors because it is cheap, available, and extends shelf life, it is NOT beautiful for your well-being. Some scientists say that the body processes HFCS differently than regular sugar or corn syrup by decreasing our metabolism and fooling with metabolic hormones. So in essence, just when Mother Nature is slowing down our metabolism normally as middle age approaches, we get unnecessary and unwanted help as HFCS brings this process to a crawl. That’s why when you try to diet and exercise more you end up stagnating or even putting on excess weight. The science behind it dictates that HFCS causes you to continue eating past the point when you would normally stop because that ‘turn-off’ switch has been disabled; you never get the message to quit eating. You’ve been tricked into thinking you want more food, and your body tells itself to store more fat. If that isn’t a double-bogey/double-whammy, what is?
So, what about artificial sweeteners? Many thought these were the answer, but consider this: they are almost totally chemical, have no nutritional value, are linked to migraines, and manipulate what your taste buds think is sweet. You are tempted to eat more since there are no sugar calories in the product. For a real eye-opener, check out a search engine and read how aspartame (NutraSweet) was approved by the FDA in 1981. The day I read that, about 3 years ago, is the day I stopped knowingly eating anything ‘diet’. I carefully chose the word ‘knowingly’ because these sweeteners are in many products you may not realize: yogurts, sugar-free ice creams, ‘lite’ drinks, gum, sugar-free candies, etc. Again, read the label.
If all of these things are so bad, what CAN you eat to add a little sugar to your life? Truvia (a leaf from the Stevia plant) is fairly new on the market but I find it has a bit of a bitter aftertaste. There’s another new sweetener available which has a very low Glycemic Index, meaning it is slowly absorbed into the body preventing blood sugar spikes. Blue Agave (yep, the tequila plant) syrup is about 25% sweeter than sugar, has 20 calories per teaspoon compared to sugar’s 16 calories – but you need less. Taste-wise, it’s a cross between maple syrup and molasses. FYI, it is perfect for making margaritas. Scrap the commercial margarita mix (HFCS, artificial flavors and more chemicals) and squeeze fresh lemons adding Blue Agave to the juice to taste……..mix with some fresh lime juice, Cuervo, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier……….Deee-lish! Who says healthy eating can’t be tasty….and fun?
Ask your favorite golf course to stock healthier alternatives in the clubhouse and at the halfway house. Fruits, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter and crackers, homemade soup, veggies and hummus (don’t laugh, I’ve seen it done), Med-style sandwich wraps and packages of nuts. In this tight economy, most courses are competing for your business and often will accommodate the requests of good customers. When they do, support the effort and you’ll win two battles: better food choices and getting your ‘voice of women’s golf’ heard. Armed with energizing food, you’ll be stacking up the pars and birdies in no time!
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