With prize money winnings over US$95 million, a Monaco citizenship, and 10 Grand Slams under his belt, it’s safe to say that Novak Djokovic is one successful man.
But how does someone become that successful? How does his tennis skill and general superhuman sporting ability continue to supersede expectations?
The answer: traditional Chinese medicine…of course.
In Djokovic’s book, ‘Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence’, he outlines how incorporating the diet principles of traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), since a disruption in his health in 2010, has increased his endurance and overall performance on the court.
In accordance with TCM, Djokovic steers clear of foods high in sugar and dairy, and only consumes warm foods.
To understand the holistic approach of TCM, we need to consider that it’s not only the foods we consume that have an impact on our bodies, but also the way we eat, the times of day we eat and drink and how these times affect us differently.
The state of Qi in the body can clog or become stagnated if we consume too many damp foods. This results in a decrease in energy levels due to reduced blood flow. Some common health conditions associated with an over-consumption of damp foods include arthritis, allergies, fatigue, bloating and gas, excess weight gain, and chronic sinus infections.
Damp foods to avoid or limit in the diet include:
- White flour
- Fried foods
- Cold raw foods
- Cold drinks
- Fruit juice
- Bananas and avocados
- Sugar and sugar substitutes
Natural, Seasonal, and Balanced
Unlike the Aitken’s, Lemon-Detox or Paleo Diet, TCM has a framework that needs to be considered for your individual mind, body and spirit. If you’re suffering from a particular health condition, your practitioner will also take this into consideration when creating the best diet plan for you.
The framework consists of natural, organic foods that balance Yin and Yang elements, or hot and cooling. It’s not only a matter of eating these foods in balance, these foods must also be eaten in accordance with their respective seasons – when possible.
Foods and drinks that benefit the body and digestion include:
- Very small amounts of lean, organic meat, such as red meat, poultry, or fish
- Lightly cooked organic vegetables including radish, alfalfa, mushrooms, corn, celery, turnip
- Beans and lentils
- Brown rice, barley, and oats
- Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
- Green tea, Jasmine tea, liquorice tea, and raspberry leaf tea
However the very most beneficial drink for your body is warm water, as endorsed by Djokovic. He claims that from the moment he wakes up, he always drinks half a litre of warm water as it is the time of day when the large intestines work to remove toxins from the body.
Djokovic also states that he prefers warm water over cold as cold water slows digestion and “diverts blood away from where I want it — in my muscles”.
It’s also important to consider that we need to eat with the seasonal temperatures. So in summer during heightened dry heat, we want to consume cooling foods, such as tomato, lettuce, egg, apples, and kiwi-fruit, to cool our bodies down.
Do you often skip breakfast and opt for an early lunch? Ever find yourself eating standing up over the kitchen counter, or maybe at your office desk with your mind and head buried in unforgiving work?
The way you eat could be impacting your health drastically. In TCM, food is considered medicine, and just like any medicine, if it’s not consumed in the right dosages at the right times, it’s not going to prove very effective.
Healthy eating habits that are encouraged by TCM include:
- Eating seated
- Eat locally sourced foods, and avoid imported foods
- Wash foods before eating, and try eat organic
- Thoroughly chew food
- Concentrate on chewing, the food you are eating, and do not get distracted by technology
- Do not skip meals, and eat a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Failing to follow these positive eating behaviours could impact other efforts you are making, such as exercise.
Although the process of following the TCM diet may seem complex, once in practice, the benefits more than outweigh the effort.