Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Eat Like Laird Hamilton
A big-wave legend’s 10 rules for eating healthfully
People think I look as good as I do at 44 because I exercise a lot. That’s only half the equation. The other half is what I eat. I love Japanese food. I love Hawaiian food. I love food in general. But I don’t eat haphazardly. I eat for performance and health, and let’s not forget pleasure. Those are the elements of what I call “food intelligence.” Not that I’m obsessive. My meals don’t take three hours to prepare, I don’t measure food by the gram, and if I get into a position where I have to eat an airplane meal or a Big Mac, I’m not going to love it, but it won’t put me into toxic shock. Instead of being like a high-performance car that is sensitive to any impurities in the fuel, I’m more like a diesel truck. If a little water gets in there, it’s still going to be okay. Here’s how I power my body.
1 Push Start
I like to begin the day at the blender with a smoothie. My favorite recipe contains five supplements that help me optimize my nutrition. A single tablespoon of Catie’s Organic Greens, for instance, equals seven servings of green vegetables. I also add apple or cherry juice and frozen bananas and berries for a nice consistency. My morning smoothie gives my body a huge amount of nutrients, which are easily absorbed because liquids are easier to digest than solids. Less than an hour later, I’m ready for whatever activity is on the agenda.
2 Don’t Graze
I don’t like to eat unless I’m hungry. When I sit down to a meal, I want my body to be in a state of craving. Not eating until you’re hungry means you’re not snacking much, if at all.
3 Chew Slowly
All too often we take our food for granted. I’m always reminding myself to eat more consciously, to savor what I’m chewing. Nature has given us millions of unique flavors. Our job is to explore and appreciate them. It also makes you hyperaware of how much you’re eating.
4 Eat Real Foods
Be wary of any food that has been created by humans rather than nature. The ingredients on the labels of processed foods, such as the average cracker or potato chip, are mind-boggling. If I don’t know what it is, it’s not going into my body.
5 Be Diverse
The food universe is vast, and in it there are hundreds of nutrients, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty acids, bioflavonoids, phytochemical, all kinds of elements. Each one provides something unique to our cells. That’s why the more diverse your diet, the healthier you’re going to be. Mix it up when you grocery shop. Don’t just buy the same stuff every time.
Eating colorful, interesting foods exposes me to new flavors, and that’s really what makes eating fun. There are countless things you can try, but strange fruits, vegetables, and grains, such as acai berries, seaweed, and quinoa, are becoming easier to find. A palm fruit native to the Brazilian Amazon, has 30 times the amount of antioxidants of red wine. Try mixing it with bananas and granola for breakfast. Edible seaweeds such as limu kohu and nori contain minerals and elements you won’t get anywhere else. Next time you have sushi, try a seaweed salad instead of edamame. Quinoa, unlike other grains, is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids.
7 Listen to Your Body
Cravings have a bad reputation because they’re often related to sweets, but I think they’re the body’s way of indicating that it’s looking for something. Listen to your body to figure out what the craving really means. If my body wants sugar, I eat fruit, such as papaya or pineapple, instead of candy or doughnuts.
8 Don’t Be Thrifty
People say that buying quality food is too expensive, but then they’ll go out and buy giant plasma TVs. So you’re eating like crap but you’re staring at a nice screen? I don’t understand that logic. Instead, budget so that you can spend a little more money for better food. In particular, be sure to upgrade anything you eat on a regular basis. If you have coffee every morning, for instance, buy the best beans you can find. Or, even better, drink espresso. It contains less caffeine than drip coffee, delivers more antioxidants, and isn’t as acidic.
9 Skip Starches
If I eat any bread, it makes me want to go to sleep. In general, I avoid wheat and other starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and pasta. I’m not saying I’ll never eat a waffle or a sandwich, but it’s a rare thing, and I’m not going out of my way to do it.
10 Eat Sustainable Foods
If you eat meat or seafood, look for terms such as free range, grass fed, organic, or locally caught. The closer it is to wild, the better. Sadly, one of my favorite wild foods is tuna. Buy only yellowfin or ahi, and make sure it’s caught by trolling or with poles; long-lining produces bycatch, which means that other ocean creatures are wastefully killed in the process.