What NOT to Eat: Guilty Pleasures of the National Team

As elite athletes, the women at the Princeton Training Center naturally have a certain level of “healthy” in their diets. The training regime we put ourselves through day in and day out demands that we eat our dark greens, colorful veggies and fruits, plenty of carbs and protein, and the “right” kind of fats. When you’re training for 6-8 hours a day, you burn A LOT of calories. Fueling your body with the right foods and liquids is just as important as your training. It aids in the recovery process, building strength, and maintaining overall health.
USDA Food Pyramid
High endurance athletes often get the “you must be able to eat whatever you want” comment. While there is some truth to that in that we definitely eat more than the average person, the majority of our calories come from the “right” kind of foods. But let’s be honest for a minute: we’re human and have our vices. So after a long cycle of intense training, oftentimes capped by a brutal week of testing or racing, sometimes you just need some comfort food.

As you may have figured out already, this isn’t your typical “healthy eating tips from an elite athlete” post. Official disclaimer: the following is not to be used as a guide for appropriate everyday fueling. Consider yourself warned: after reading this, you may have a craving for something sweet and a little less nutritious than your traditional (and hopefully healthier) pre/post workout meals.

For your enjoyment and consideration but not exactly everyday recommendation, I’ve compiled a short list of some of the favorite guilty pleasures of the Women’s Rowing National Team training group. Names have been omitted to maintain anonymity.

Pizza. Sometimes three or five (who’s counting) slices of pizza is the only thing that sounds good after an exhausting, brutal erg test. Melted cheese, greasy pepperoni, or sweet and savory pineapple and bacon atop a thick garlic crust (okay, go for the whole wheat), isn’t the worst way to recover depleted calorie stores.

Chocolate. Godiva, Ghirardelli, or just good old Hershey’s. We definitely have some chocolate fanatics in the group. Cadbury Mini-Eggs go like hot cakes among team members during the spring. I might have a Ghirardelli dark chocolate brownie mix sitting in my pantry waiting to be baked for a rainy day.

Candy. Pick your poison: Sour Patch Kids, Mike and Ike’s, Skittles, Licorice, Gummy Bears, Reese’s Pieces…
Cake with Oreos

Cake & Cupcakes. There might be one house of rowers who particularly enjoys cake. I mean, who doesn’t like cake? It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday to enjoy this light, fluffy, frosted dessert. Sometimes, you CAN have your cake and eat it too.
Pop Tarts

Pop Tarts. Let’s just say there are a couple of athletes who could be the spokespeople for this delicious toaster pastry. It was an essential item packed for the long trip to Australia for World Cup I. Cookies ‘n Cream, Hot Fudge Sundae, and Chocolate Fudge are just a few favorite flavors. I grew up as a Toaster Strudel kid myself.

Bacon. Bacon makes everything better. Enough said.

Cookies. Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, OREO’s (but only if they’re double-stuffed); Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Snap Cookies are a personal favorite. I can pound some serious Ginger Snap cookies and Trader Joe’s does it right. If you haven’t tried these little treats, go to the nearest TJ’s. Now. There’s a reason the stores are often “out of stock.”

Donuts. Someone on the team is a bakery extraordinaire. She just knows where the best baked goods are, and cupcakes and donuts are her speciality. She recently introduced the team to Federal Donuts out of Philadelphia. A-maz-ing. Added bonus: they serve fried chicken as well.

Potato Chips. Salty, greasy goodness. I bet you can’t eat just one.

Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt. It’s just too bad that the city of Princeton has a shortage of ice cream and frozen yogurt joints (note: sarcasm). I seriously think the ice cream/frozen yogurt shop to person ratio in Princeton is something like 10:1. For the fro-yo fiend, you are in Heaven. Favorite local places to satisfy that ice cream craving include Halo, Thomas Sweets, and the Bent Spoon. For the keep-at-home stock, Ben & Jerry’s seems to be a team favorite.

I’m famished after all of this writing. Off to down a bag of spinach and a protein shake…and maybe some chips, ice cream or brownies…
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One thought on “What NOT to Eat: Guilty Pleasures of the National Team

  1. Staskelunas, Doreen

    Hello Friend!

    I had completely forgotten all about Thomas Sweet until you mentioned it below. We used to dream about, and occasionally take a run (OK, it was too far to run, but if we could get our hands on a car) to Thomas Sweets when I was in college 20 (OMG) years ago! I sat up in bed and started drooling….good to know it’s still there!

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