There is a smorgasbord of advice available to runners who want to optimise their training and racing by adopting the right nutritional strategy. We elite athletes don’t have time for diets – we go straight in with nutritional strategies. I’m sure everyone is familiar with high and low GI (glycaemic index) foods. Less well known are high and low YI (yummy index) foods.
Now, any post that begins with “Dr Derek” needs to be taken with a pinch of salt – only a small pinch mind, we don’t want to be upsetting those electrolyte balances. My YI system helps you to make food choices that are right for you. It has the twin virtues of being simple and idiosyncratic. How often do you read articles that say you must eat these foods, or avoid these foods, or eat these sometimes but avoid at other times? And how many of the foods listed as “must eats” are not to your taste? Do I really need to eat purple broccoli to be a good runner? Conversely, we get that little pang of guilt or sadness when we see our favourite foods on the naughty list.
The good news is you can put all this behind you! You can choose foods on the basis of how yummy they are. How brilliant! No more agonising over the choice between risotto rice or quinoa! Who wants to eat something that a lot of people can’t even spell or pronounce correctly? (well, to be truthful, I had to check the spelling of “risotto”, but you know what I mean).
Obviously I am not advocating that you completely abandon any notion of what would be widely accepted as a healthy balanced diet (sorry, I mean “nutritional strategy”). It is also the case that runners do need to pay careful attention to how they fuel their training, racing and recovery. I am just sharing what works for me. I want to save others from the piquant sauce of guilt that sometimes accompanies the high YI foods we choose, or when we avoid what is supposed to be good for us. And chances are there will be many foods on the “must eat” list that will also be high YI foods for you – the categories are not mutually exclusive. And I think there is also a degree of reflexivity – the act of making a healthy choice becomes rewarding in itself independently of the YI value, and may in turn attach itself to the enjoyment of the food in its own right. With the YI system, we are all winners!