I just returned from Atlanta where I took care of my grandchildren for a few days while their parents were on vacation. My 11-year-old grandson was diagnosed with childhood diabetes when he was four year old. Because of his strict diabetic food plan, he is a trim, muscular, energetic child with virtually no body fat. As he did, we can all learn a lot about regulating our food intake to keep our body chemistry balanced.
There are many aspects to the Mind-Body-Emotion-Spirit equation in your daily life and in your golf game. It is important to keep these systems in balance to prepare for movement into the Zone State for your peak performances on the golf course. As we move into the holiday season, I think it is appropriate to discuss good nutrition for balancing not only your golf game, but your everyday life.
We normally think of the food we eat in terms of enjoyment, of being healthy or of what it does to our bodies in terms of attractiveness. The truth is that your body is a vast storehouse of chemicals. What you eat, the amount you eat, and when you eat, can change the chemistry of your digestive system, as well as your brain which controls your nervous system. When it affects your nervous system, it then affects your mental and emotional state.
· Do you limp in and shoot high scores the last few holes?
· Do you have trouble getting started again on the 10th hole?
· Do you have a letdown and feel tired around the 14-15th holes?
· Do you have trouble recovering after taking a big number on a hole?
You may have experienced these letdowns due to a carbohydrate/sugar drop in energy. When our bodies experience mental or physical fatigue, the tendency is to swing the golf club faster or harder to make up for the lack of energy. This usually results in a jerky or rushed swing that causes errors.
When you eat foods high in carbohydrates (These are mostly white foods such as potato, sugar, flour, and white rice.), you will feel tired and won’t be able to think properly because these foods turn to sugar rapidly and move into your nervous system quickly. When there is too much sugar in your system, the pancreas secretes insulin to decrease the glucose (sugar) levels. When the glucose levels drop as a result of the insulin, you become mentally fatigued, physically tired, lose motivation, lose focus and concentration, become nervous, and have a low tolerance for problem situations.
It is important to maintain an emotional and chemical energy balance throughout your round for peak performance. You may remember how Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova raised their level of performance to become international winners after changing their diet. Through proper nutrition they learned to manage their energy and emotions, and their ability to concentrate improved significantly. When Dave Duval lost 40 pounds through diet and exercise, his driving and putting improved and he had a fearless attitude. We all are all aware of how Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam became the world’s best players by restructuring their bodies.
Your body is an electronic computer that requires air, food, sun and water. When the body gets depleted in any one of these areas, it becomes unbalanced. Balance happens in our chemical body when the food ingested is high in protein, and low in fat and low in carbohydrates.
My grandchildren eat ripe fruits after school when they are hungry for a snack. Fruits are rich in vitamin C, are easy to digest, and can satisfy cravings for sweets. Apples are a source of both soluble fiber, which helps to prevent cholesterol buildup, and insoluble fiber which helps to move food quickly through the digestive system. Bananas are very high in potassium and rich in vitamin B6, folic acid and soluble fiber. Bananas are good for raised cholesterol. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C and contain modest amounts of iron. This combination makes strawberries especially useful in the treatment of anemia and fatigue.
Fruits should be eaten by themselves, making them an ideal food for the golf course.
Everything in the universe operates in cycles. Nothing stays at peak performance at all times. To maintain high performance levels and to avoid feeling down requires proper sustenance of the body.
Here are some suggestions for keeping your bio-chemical body physically, mentally, and emotionally stable so you have the energy to produce your peak performances.
· Eat a diet high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrates. Proteins promote increased alertness, and the ability to make decisions under pressure
Include dried beans (like kidney or pinto beans) and lentils into your meals.
Include fish in your meals 2-3 times a week.
Choose lean meats like cuts of beef and pork that end in "loin" such as pork loin and sirloin. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
· Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. Pick different colors to maximize variety. Eat non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, carrots, broccoli or green beans with meals.
· Eat fruit 30 minutes before or 2 hours after a meal. Fruits are best eaten alone. They have a moderate to low insulin-stimulating effect, and have vitamins.
· Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products
. Try brown rice with your stir fry or whole wheat spaghetti with your favorite pasta sauce.
· Reduce your intake of sugar. It is important to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Sugar raises the glucose levels causing the production of insulin. Your muscles will feel energized for a short period of time before the insulin reduces the glucose below the original level and your brain will be starved for energy, and will crave more sugar for energy.
· Eat breakfast. This will begin to provide glucose to your brain and body and you will be off to a good energy start to the day. A good breakfast would be oatmeal or brown rice with some additional protein.
· Eat every three hours. Eating small meals at regular intervals causes digestion to occur slowly and continuously. Your nervous system is then receiving a continuous supply of glucose for sustained mental performance.
· Drink water, water, and more water. It is important to drink water because it is beneficial to your organs, especially the kidneys. It is recommended that you drink a minimum of six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily, and 12 glasses if you are overweight. Add one glass of water for each cup of coffee, alcoholic beverage, and soda you drink. Make water your beverage of choice.
The most important aspect of chemically nurturing your body is to take the time to enjoy the foods you eat. Just as you give your pre-shot routine and golf game your full attention, love what you eat by savoring the taste, smell, and texture of each food. Enjoy your food, but eating too much of even healthful foods can lead to weight gain. Watch your portion sizes. Eat slowly so you will know when you are no longer hungry. Your body will then know that you are nurturing it, helping it to digest the foods easily to fuel your muscles and to keep your nervous system balanced.
Bon Appetite! Your performances can be dictated by what you eat!
Entrain Your Heart & Brain for Peak Performance!
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