Guest blog by Stephanie Brugman.
It can be challenging to eat healthily at horse shows. Back in the day when I was riding full time and going to shows I would always bring my own food and tried to cook as much as possible in my truck. Of course there were also times I chose to eat fast food after a long day. A little older and wiser now, I have realised that what you eat is very important in order to feel fit and have enough energy to compete. We all know we need the energy to make it until the last day and to be feeling at your best. I have put together 5 tips to help you stay healthy and energised at the shows.
1. Stay alkaline
By implementing a more alkaline diet into your nutrition regime you will notice that your energy levels, stamina, endurance and conditioning will improve. So which foods should you avoid and which should you load up on? Start by eating mainly veggies and fruits and stay away from processed meat, refined grains, too much dairy, alcohol, soda, caffeine and artificial sweeteners. Another tip is to use the ‘alka greens’ stick packs. Super easy while travelling. Just mix with water and have it first thing in the morning. (In case you are curious, you can easily check your PH levels by using pee strips, available at drug stores).
2. Stay hydrated
One superfood (or better yet, super drink) you definitely need around the horse show is coconut water because it’s packed with potassium and electrolytes. It’s actually known as “nature’s Gatorade”. So if you want to recover faster and increase your performance, add in some of nature’s Gatorade by drinking coconut water regularly.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
3. Get fishy
Omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained through diet and supplementation. They are not naturally made by our bodies and it’s impossible to consume enough through our diet alone. Even if you are making the effort to eat wild salmon, avocados, and nuts, you are not consuming enough. Omega 3’s offer health benefits for everyone, including performance-enhancing effects such as:
- Increases oxygen delivery to the heart muscle, which improves heart function.
- Improves cognitive function, which plays a role in reaction speed and visualisation – which is so important for jump offs.
- Reduces muscle soreness by decreasing inflammation.
- Strengthens bones by increasing your body’s level of calcium absorption.
- Improves lung function during exercise.
- Improves recovery by reducing inflammation and helps to combat the effects of an intense training on the immune system.
Make sure you buy a high quality fish oil with a low totox value. The lower the totox value, the fresher the fish oil is.
4. Set the bar higher
Craving a delicious snack in between horses or classes? Make your own homemade, nutritious granola bars to avoid artificial ingredients or preservatives. Pack your bars full of nutrient-dense foods and proteins like dried fruit, nuts, seeds and oats, to keep you active and sharp during training or competitions. If you run out of time, you can easily buy some good quality bars in organic supermarkets too.
5. Add magnesium
Unfortunately, it is possible to have a magnesium deficiency even with a healthy diet. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you’re eating plenty of magnesium-rich foods like spinach, almonds, and banana and, guess what? Dark chocolate also contains magnesium. Magnesium is vital for muscle repair and it can also enhance your quality of sleep. Like giving your horses magnesium, we should definitely not forget ourselves. There are magnesium bathing salts available and there is also a body spray if you don’t like taking supplements. Another way to get your magnesium in is with a powder that you can add to your smoothies.
Nowadays it’s finally accepted that we take care of our mental health as well as our physical health, which is a great improvement. Also working out besides riding horses has become more popular over the years. I think we should look with an even more holistic view and see what other aspects we can improve. In the end balance is key.