I am currently away in Asia on a winter break to train and compete. My husband and I base ourselves in Phuket, Thailand so I can train with a local triathlon group and compete in some of the many competitions that are in Asia these days. There are many big differences and changes to living and training here compared to England, and one of the biggest is food. As athletes, we all know how important food is – I'm not the only triathlete that is constantly hungry, am I?
Back in England, almost everything I eat is cooked at home, however out here you can pretty much reverse that as we mostly eat out. We only have a studio apartment here which doesn't have a proper kitchen, just basic fridge and kettle. Plus, it's a lot cheaper to eat out here in Asia!
For me, the most important thing is being able to make our usual breakfast which seems to have become a standard athlete's breakfast....porridge! I am blessed to have a husband who does so much for me to support my sport. He makes all my food so that I can walk in the door from training and have it ready to go.
Most days I have morning and afternoon training sessions, usually starting at 6.40am. I rarely eat before as that suits me, but occasionally when we do long rides (over 150km) I will have a banana or very small bowl of oats first. I also take gels and energy bars with me just in case I need the energy. But whatever happens, I get woken up by a homemade masala chai being put down next to me. I can't function without my morning tea and I've come to love chai before training (maybe because of the little bit of sugar that is in that which I don't have in normal tea!) It gets me out of bed and into training.
As soon as I walk in the door after training, I have my protein drink followed by breakfast. I don't like to leave it long after training to get those down and am usually too hungry to wait anyway!
If my afternoon session is around 4 or 5pm, I will have lunch first, usually at a local vegetarian restaurant. My favourite place is amazing with so many choices and great fresh vegetables. I'm always sure to eat a lot of green leafy vegetables to keep my iron levels up, as well as a good mix of other vegetables to get all the nutrients I need.
I do miss my vegetarian food at home as, apart from tofu (which I don't like), they don't really have many other substitutes here. Although, more and more ‘western’ foods are becoming available and vegetarian/vegan products are growing quickly here.
I eat a lot more rice here than at home, but it is a good carbohydrate as I don't eat potatoes here like I do at home. I love potatoes in any form!
The diet out here suits me fine. I train very hard, race a lot, and have never seemed to struggle or feel like I'm lacking in anything. I do make sure I take a vegetarian supplement every day as I do at home.
I go through a lot of electrolytes here due to the humidity – the sweating is on another level here when you train! If I am about to race, I am careful with my food but not to the point where I deny myself anything, I am just a little more careful.
On a Sunday bakery ride, you can't not have banana bread at the halfway point can you! It's all about balance, that's for sure.
So this is a daily snapshot of what I'm eating out here in Thailand; a world away from my UK day. One of the biggest bonuses.... hardly any washing up!