Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

The Celebrity Shopping Trolley - Paula Radcliffe

Is Paula going to live her dream of running in the 2012 Olympics, or will her eating habits let her down? Michael peers into her shopping trolley for the answer.

Here is how she describes her shopping and eating during an average week:-
I always start the day with hot water and lemon.

For breakfast I usually have porridge with water or rice milk, a banana and honey.
A favourite for lunch is a jacket potato with tuna or salmon, avocado, salad and balsamic vinegar dressing.

I love making chicken risotto and sometimes I’ll have salmon with brown rice or potatoes.
For a healthy snack I’ll eat dark chocolate with nectarines, nuts and seeds. I love healthy snack bars and would make them myself if I had more time but with two young children, that’s just not possible!

I took a test - not done by my doctor or at a hospital - which discovered I’m intolerant to dairy so I switched to drinking Soya milk but I’m intolerant to that as well so I now have to use rice milk. The test also discovered that to different levels I’m intolerant to gluten, wheat, black currant and chilli. Some intolerances are not as bad as others so sometimes I’ll have a cheat day though!

I always make sure I stock up on lemon, dark chocolate and good sources of protein like chicken and salmon.

So What Does Michael Think?

I worry about women long distance runners as they are likely to be underweight and at risk of osteoporosis. The same is true about obsessive exercisers when exercise becomes a form of eating disorder. In spite of the weight bearing, loss of too much body fat upsets hormones and causes a premature menopause, loss of calcium from the bones and increased risk of fractures.

As the right diet is vital for marathon runners does Paula fill her trolley with good stuff?

The day starts with a healthy glass of hot water and lemon, then breakfast of porridge with water or rice milk, a banana and honey. This would be much better with real milk, but Paula took one of the commercial allergy tests and was told she was intolerant to dairy so switched to Soya milk but that was also a problem. Now she only uses rice milk. The test also suggested gluten, wheat, black currant and chilli intolerances too.

Paula’s lunchtime favourite is a jacket potato served with tuna or salmon; avocado salad and balsamic vinegar dressing, but a bit of fruit would be a good addition. For dinner, she loves making chicken risotto but sometimes has salmon with brown rice or potatoes, however, to be a healthy meal she needs to add some fruit and vegetables.

Paula does not get anywhere near to her 5 portions a day even though she is in desperate need of the protective anti oxidants they provide, to counteract the damaging effects of training. There are some anti oxidants in her snacks of dark chocolate, nectarines, nuts and seeds, plus there is enough protein in her shopping trolley.

I would just love to see Paula at the 2012 Olympics, especially if she wears spikes for the track rather than run the marathon. Her own website says she is 1m73 and weighs 54k and that gives her a BMI (body mass index) of only 18. Anything less than a BMI of 20 is underweight, so she must eat more good food.

There are no awful things in her trolley, just not enough of the nourishing ingredients she needs. So if Paula can avoid being bitten by dogs and spiders and getting run down by kids on bikes; all things she has suffered in the past, she will have a better chance. She must up her nutrient intake enough to support a better immune system and stronger bones, then she could avoid infections and injuries that stop the training and competing.

In all my years of working with patients, including many top athletes, I have never been happy with any of the commercially available allergy and intolerance tests, more so when they have not been interpreted by a specialist medical allergy doctor. I wish she would see a Consultant Allergy Specialist at one of the teaching hospitals, just to check if she really does have any problems. I am seriously concerned that many of the commercial allergy tests are questionable, and some of them downright fraudulent.

Time and again I have had to deal with the nutritional deficiencies caused by needless exclusion of vital foods. Around 20% of the UK population think they have food allergies, but in reality it is less than 2%. Paula should try introducing the suspect foods gradually, one at a time. By the way, I have never seen anyone with an allergy to black currants!

More good bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and other cereals; cheese, eggs, oily fish, avocados, bananas, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, seeds and peanut butter, could make all the difference. These extra calories will help Paula to the 57 kilos she should be and keep them till her next Gold Medal.


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