Whenever there is a multi sport international games event, everyone is always curious about the food. In particular, the dining hall! It’s a key feature of an athlete village where all countries and athletes come together to eat.
It’s no easy task for organisers to consider the individual needs of thousands of different athletes including their energy demands, dietary needs, culture, cuisine, tastes, food safety and body types.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games is a multi-village set up which requires food service areas at five village locations throughout Birmingham. The dining halls will provide a range of cuisines offered to suit the multi-cultural nature of the villages.
This includes Western and Pacific food, Asian, African, Caribbean, grilled meats, pizza and pasta stations. There is also a range of foods to suit specific dietary needs including gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, nut free and nutrition information on all food served for any other allergies or intolerance.
Outside of the dining hall, each village will have grab and go snack stations with some even having access to mobile food trucks.
The Australian Team will also have access to their own nutrition spaces with familiar Aussie staples to give our athletes an extra performance advantage.
Understandably this sounds like a lot of food and there is often a selection of a lot more food than athletes might usually have at home or at any one meal. With greater options comes greater opportunity to eat in a targeted way to meet performance needs, but there are also more choices to make when deciding what to eat. These different settings and the wide range of food at mealtimes can cause some confusion around what to eat and where to start – or where to stop!
Every food environment can be different, so the skills an athlete can take into these environments isn’t to know the healthiest or the best food that will be there. It’s making a choice which aligns with health and performance goals.
Eating for performance isn’t about perfection or ‘being good’. It’s eating in a way that meets your dietary needs and training demands and replicating how you might eat when performing at your best. It’s being driven by this to consciously make the best choices for you to reach your goals, not just settling for what’s there or what’s tasty.
Aligning with a goal to make purposeful food choices can help indecision and avoid overeating due to the number of choices available, or undereating meals if unfamiliar and overwhelmed with choices.
There are absolutely times where you can be driven by your taste buds and your belly and to celebrate and enjoy food and its role in providing joy, connection and experience. As we are inspired by our athletes at the Commonwealth Games, we can also learn from them how they approach food choices and the application of nutrition strategies to suit your environment and choose what is right for your body right now.