: Jennifer Barretta
Food For Thought
If aliens landed on Earth and wandered into the local pool halls they may be led to believe that the diet of pool champions is nachos, hot dogs and beer. It's very difficult to find quality food in pool halls, but I believe it is an essential ingredient in playing the game well. Eating typical poolroom fare will not only bog the system down with prolonged digestion, it will also create excitotoxicity (that's a fancy word for death by stimulation) in your brain cells. With a little preparation it is possible to avoid the trap and eat a diet that will enhance your game.
The most important thing you can do each day is eat three balanced meals. What is a balanced meal? One that contains protein (lean meats), carbohydrates (grains) and fat. I'm going to break a common misconception. Fat is not evil. The fats found naturally in vegetables promote brain function, so yes, feel free to use olive oil. It comes from olives. Corn oil comes from corn. Peanut oil comes from peanuts. Canola oil comes from...a genetically modified version of the highly toxic rapeseed plant. Maybe avoid that one. The key to eating for sports performance is to eat real food.
So what is real food?
Real food is food that has not been fouled up by scientists who think they can outdo nature. It's not laden with unpronounceable chemicals or genetically modified to produce it's own pesticide. Real foods are ones that can be traced back to their original source. Chicken breast comes from a chicken. Broccoli comes from the ground. Rice comes from rice paddies. You get the idea. If your grandparents didn't have it when they were young, then don't eat it. So what do you do when you're on the road at a tournament? Be prepared. Bring nutrition bars for a snack between matches (I like Clif bars for their high quality ingredients) or snack on nuts. Most local restaurants offer dishes such as chicken or fish over rice, so scout the area first. If you're really in the boonies, pack a lunch. A tuna fish sandwich made with olive oil mayo is a great combination of high powered brain foods.
The things you should avoid are:
Fried foods because they slow the digestion process, and all that nice blood flow that keeps your synapses firing will be wasted trying to break down a jumbo order of chili cheese fries. Alcohol because it dulls your senses and will make you miss critical details Processed foods because the chemicals, including generous helpings of MSG, will affect your clarity. And finally, refined sugars, both cane and high fructose corn syrup, because after their initial boost you are in for a mind numbing crash. The best brain foods are fish, nuts, eggs, leafy greens and whole grains. If you can make these changes for a tournament weekend you will give yourself the best chance for success. If you can make it a permanent change, you may avoid cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and hypertension. And those extra years of life you gain will give you a lot more time to play pool.