Eating for derby?

On the heels of my mega-week of derby, I’ve been thinking a lot about a grey (for me) area between nutrition and medicine in the context of sports.  How far should we expect nutrition to take us on a daily basis, where should we start thinking about adding nutrients to fill in the gaps, and then at what point do we turn to medicine to intervene where the nutrition and supplementation regime isn’t doing the job? Add glucosamine when the knees start bothering me?  Take extra vitamin D to strengthen my immune system? I’ll totally pop the Airborne when I feel a cold coming on, but I have a sort of knee-jerk reaction against enriched foods, vitamins and other supplements for daily nutrition.  When, you know, there’s all that food GROWING IN THE GROUND RIGHT THERE. Full of nutrients, full of things that science is still discovering we need. So yeah, I’d really rather stick with that gorgeous fresh green stuff, if that’s possible.

The growth of the vitamin store market over the last few years makes me a little queasy, and I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what I think about it, but I know my discomfort has something to do with the way they pop up so close to restaurants that sell factory-farmed, factory-created, artificially colored and flavored and constructed pseudofood. I mean, if we were all eating from gardens and farms, would we need all these vitamins?  Of course not… but I also know it’s not possible to get every macro- and micro-nutrient that we could use through food, and everyone needs/wants a different nutrient mix.

So there’s a market for all these vitamins, but there’s also a market for empty-calorie foods, and judging by their growing proximity to each other, it seems like it’s an overlapping market.  (it used to be that the vitamins were just filling up the co-ops and natural food stores.. these new big-box vitamin chains are showing up in malls and in the big commercial areas of town, next to the fast food restaurants and other bg box stores)  What gives? Not that this is the riddle of the sphinx, but it’s all just so obviously screwed-up.

I’ve been really sore lately after workouts and derby as I’ve ramped up the intensity of everything this spring/summer.  My quads ache, my knees pinch in the morning and during lunges, and it seems like it always hurts my abs to laugh.  And with my limited knowledge, I start wondering about how I should be better managing things like antioxidants and glucosamine and other alternatives to just popping another ibuprofen or naproxen.  I mean, I’m not opposed to taking NSAIDs after a game or for an injury (even a particularly hard fall on my ass), but I’d rather not make it a daily habit (and I haven’t yet).

If there’s something I can do to speed healing, I’d love to check it out.  But I wonder where I can go for trustworthy information about nutrition, because those vitamin stores really creep me out.  I’ve been interested in Derbalife (an Herbalife distributor by and for derby girls), but I’m having a hard time getting to any concrete information about their program, other than references back to Herbalife products/publications.  There are testimonials and such, but no info about what/why they recommend, how it’s tailored to an individual, and where the sales/marketing pitch ends and sound science/health/medicine advice begins.  This girl is *SO* not down with the “just drink this twice a day and swallow these pills and that’s the program kthxbai.”  Not happening here.  I might go back to reading Jillian Michaels’ Master Your Metabolism, now that I’m really locked in to thinking about that stuff again, but I’m hungry for recommended reading from other derby folks.  Email or tweet or fb comment me w/ suggestions, and I’ll plug them into a separate post later on.

I really should be upfront about the fact that food and I don’t exactly have the model relationship… let’s just shorthand it to love/hate and be done with it.  But seriously, the focus on nutritional information can be bad for that relationship, so I can understand why some people would rather swallow a handful of pills than keep close track of their food. I just think there’s a better way for me, and I’m still trying to figure out what that is.

    • E
    • July 13th, 2011

    Yes, absolutely, I feel this 100%. Shane does protein shakes and supplements, but I want to EAT REAL FOOD ALL CAPS. I do take an iron supplement because I don’t get enough from my diet, but I am REALLY NOT INTERESTED in taking a bunch of pills to make up for a nutrient-poor diet.

    This gets doubly hard as an athlete (omg, I’m an athlete!) who is also trying to lose weight. I will definitely look forward to any recommendations you find.

    • Stephanie
    • July 13th, 2011

    E – thanks for the comment 🙂 I’m SO torn about this. I’ll do protein shakes / meal replacements as a control mechanism for my eating, but I really would rather not rely on it for bunches of reasons. It’s the iron-type things that I’m really interested in learning about… what can we not get from our diet, what *needs* to be supplemented? I’m willing to believe there are lots of things, but I want to be shown, not just told to take some pills.

    And bingo on the weight loss efforts while training and competing… which is why Jillian’s book appeals to me. I’ll keep you posted!

  1. I just started the Derbalife thing. I think it is idea for me, because the shakes are good for when I am stressed and run ragged and don’t have time for planning (or have to run from work to practice) and the rest of the time I can focus on balancing my meals and eating well. “Real Food” will always win. I love Jillian’s books – she is very readable and presents proven research in a thoughful way.

    I did way too many nutrition courses in my day, as I once (and maybe still) want to get my Holisitic Nutritionist designation. In an ideal world, we can life happily without any supplementation – supplements are not the go-to option for so many reasons! I think of them as medicine – which they are. Use them only if needed, and only under professional care.

    I went to a naturapath and got a full diagnostic done – I liked that she said “You don’t need a multivitamin, you need these specific things to balance you, and we’ll test again in three months to see where you are.” (For example, you are a pale ass Canadian – you need Vitamin D.)

    If you do want to chat up a Derbalife coach, this is my gal: She was great for me.


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