There's Nothing Lean About This Cuisine

If you are what you eat then right now I feel like I’m a McNugget shy of a Happy Meal.

The way I’ve been eating here in Sochi has left me tired, irritable and not smelling particularly well.

And to top it off, now I read that the U.S. Women’s Olympic Hockey Team has better diets than I do.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, these women have a full-time dietician ensuring that they don’t fall into the trap of those of us who report on their games.

Alicia Kendig, who the players have dubbed Nutricia, makes sure the women eat the right foods in the proper amounts and at the appropriate time as part of an approach to strength and conditioning, sports psychology and nutrition in an effort to return to gold-medal form.

Perhaps the Main Media Center in Sochi should put her on retainer.

As the great Satchell Paige once said, “Avoid fried foods, which angry up the blood.”

Let me tell you, there are plenty of people walking around here with angry blood.

Is it any wonder that McDonalds is the official restaurant of the Olympics? You can’t turn your head in the main media center without seeing someone toting a large brown paper bag emblazoned with a bright yellow M on the side. The closest thing most of us come to a salad is the shredded lettuce falling out of a Big Mac.

It reminds me of the time I was covering figure skating at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. I was walking through the press box and two reporters, each pushing 300-plus, were discussing Tara Lipinski’s chances of unseating Michelle Kwan because she had a greater mastery of the triple axel. It was all I could do to keep from pointing out to these two gentlemen that they would better know a triple cheeseburger than a triple axel.

But I digress. Reading this Times story about what these women are eating made my stomach rumble. Or maybe that is yesterday's late night snack.

They start every day with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, chopped baked potatoes, oatmeal, cereal, strawberries and blueberries. Two hours later, a pregame snack includes bananas and more oatmeal fortified with peanut butter and almond butter. Afterward, fresh fruit is available in the locker room, along with liquid yogurt, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and shakes made of whey protein, pineapple, bananas and orange juice.

“If we don’t fuel our bodies right, that training’s not going to mean anything,” 31-year-old Olympic veteran Julie Chu.

So you mean those deep knee bends and sit ups I did in my hotel room this morning were all for naught? What a waste of two and a half minutes.

And all this time I thought the gallons of coffee, late-night sausage plates and enough beer (pivo) to float a Russian frigate were actually improving my gold-medal chances.

Unlike a lot of people, I really have no complaints about the food here even though I haven’t been wining and dining my way around Sochi, like some of my esteemed colleagues.

Our favorite five-star dining experience has been this little kiosk located right outside the Bolshoy Ice Dome, where these sweet little old ladies make blinis, which are Russian pancakes stuffed with various fillings. I stopped ordering the double meat special since I’ve noticed a scarcity of dogs roaming around the Olympic Park.

Sometimes I think it’s not just what we eat but when and how we eat that may cause the most problems. Too often we are too busy running from event to event, practice to game, to sit down and eat slowly and sensibly. We’re cramming a burger into our mouths like it’s an Olympic pie-eating contest and washing it down with a sugary-sweet soda (“But it’s a Diet Coke”) before running off to cover another press conference.

And by the time we’re done working every night, there’s barely enough time to grab a quick beer and greasy snack before grabbing a few hours of sleep. To borrow a phrase from southern humorist Lewis Grizzard, “these Russian chili dogs only bark at night.”

Thinking about the lifestyle many of us have during this 18-day endurance test, there’s no shortage of walking billboards for the American Heart Association roaming the halls at the Main Media Center.

Too many late nights, too much fatty food, too many late night beers and too much stress is a recipe for disaster.

They remind me of a guy that my brother-in-law knew in his hometown in northwest Colorado. They called him “Bacon Double Cheese.” When I asked how this gentleman became the recipient of such an interesting nickname, I was told, “Cuz he’s a bacon double cheeseburger shy of 300 pounds.”

I wonder if he knows anything about figure skating.

Try carbs for a bit?

No matter what, when you're traveling, eating healthy is always a challenge.

Despite the best attempts to keep snacks squirreled away - most things that are portable contain preservatives.

You can't travel in an airplane with fruits or veggies. Obtaining local produce in foreign countries could potentially cause havoc with one's internal system.

Perhaps try carbs for a bit and have rice, pasta and bread? At least those ingredients are universal. I know I can survive on crackers and cheese for a very long time!


Eating good on the road

All great points Harry, It's very hard to eat right on the road. Especially when you can't even swing in to the local grocery store and get something to take back to your hotel with you.

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