Toronto Star

Dash of willpower in Leaf hunger games

Trading pizza and ice cream for veggie juice and kale painful necessity for many


The Maple Leafs almost drool when they think about the food they’ve given up. Pizza. Cheeseburg­ers. Ice cream. Oh, the ice cream.

It takes a lot to be an athlete: talent, dedication and, more than ever, a commitment to eat nutritious­ly. That means having the willpower to forgo eating the kind of food the folks in the stands consume nightly.

So when the notion of favourite food comes up — something they’ve had to give up — the Maple Leafs simply smile at the memories.

“When I was in junior, a long time ago, there was no nutrition,” said Stephane Robidas, the 37-year-old defenceman. “It was McDonald’s, maybe four times a week.

“It was cheap. My girlfriend was working there. I could get Big Macs free. Hey, in junior, you don’t make that much. We had 2-for-1 tickets. After games it was Big Mac and fries.”

Robidas may as well be talking about rotary phones, black-andwhite TVs and shag carpets — relics from a bygone era that mean nothing to today’s young athletes who dine on quinoa, protein shakes and broccoli.

“Quinoa? I don’t even know if it was around,” says Robidas, hands raised, head shaking at the wonder of how things have changed in his nearly two decades in the NHL. “Never heard of quinoa before.”

Robidas continues, hands still raised, head still shaking, while his eyes seek out the oldest member of the media for support.

“Like sweet potato. I didn’t know about these. Gluten-free pasta. I don’t think it was around. Brown rice, you know. It’s all stuff that I think is new.

“Kale?” he concludes, almost exasperate­d. “Kale.”


We asked some Leafs for their go-to healthy food, something they liked more than they thought they would. Robidas: “Broccoli. It is not the best tasting food, but I’ll eat it because I know it’s good for you.” James van Riemsdyk: “I was never very picky, but things like kale, quinoa. For breakfast, for me it’s oatmeal and a meat for protein.” David Booth: “I never liked tomatoes until maybe my first or second year pro. Then I started drinking tomato juice, then I switched to tomatoes. Now I can eat tomatoes; it’s crazy. And just this year, it’s olives. I never liked olives. I just had them in a salad, (when) I was hungry. Olives were in my salad and I didn’t care, I just ate them. They weren’t that bad. When I was a teenager, I never would have had an olive.” James Reimer: “Protein shakes, a lot of salad, pretty much every meal. A healthy dressing. Healthy oils that maybe aren’t as tasty as some. Wheatgrass shots. Juicing is the biggest one: Shove carrots, spinach, ginger, apples, celery, cucumbers, you name it. You just drink it. You can crush five or more servings of fruit into an eight-ounce glass. It doesn’t always taste very good, but it has a lot of health benefits to it.” Nazem Kadri: “A lot of fruits. I wasn’t much of a fruit and vegetable guy when I was younger. Now I’m trying to expand my horizons. Watermelon, strawberri­es, raspberrie­s, cantaloupe. I’m more of a fruit guy than vegetable. There are certain minerals and nutrients in those that give you sustained energy Mike Santorelli: “I love vegetables, like any of them, on the barbecue, roasted in the oven. No butter, no oils. Just a bit of salt.”


And we asked about their favourite junk food or comfort food, something they’ve given up or look forward to having after the season. Robidas: “Me in the summer, on Fridays, it’s pizza and poutine. Ohhhhhh. Had a place on a lake, and there was a restaurant and their pizza was unbelievab­le. And really good poutine. We’d order a few. We’d have people over. . . . And I love ice cream.” Van Riemsdyk: “Being from New York-New Jersey, there’s always great pizza there. That’s one I don’t eat as much as I did back in the heyday. That’s one I miss a little bit.” Booth: “In 2008, I gave up dessert. Cake, pie, everything. I still try to limit my intake on it. But what I want: a chocolate chip, cookie dough, Oreo, peanut butter Blizzard. If you have a little bit of cookie dough, a little bit of Oreo, a little bit of peanut butter in a Blizzard? Oh, man. I’m telling you. If there was one on every stall, I could eat it all.” Reimer: “Cheeseburg­ers. All the bad food, the fast food. Pop. You’re always craving stuff like that. It’s chemically engineered to taste great and for you to be addicted to it.” Santorelli: “I miss a lot of the Italian meals. My Nona back home makes lasagna, cannelloni, veal cutlets. I miss them.”

 ??  ?? Kadri: More fruits than veggies
Kadri: More fruits than veggies

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