Editorial: At dinner, think more like Brady

  • Brady

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Today is Tom Brady’s 40th birthday, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. He doesn’t hobble around like most professional athletes at the dawn of their fifth decade, and he doesn’t rely solely on veteran savvy to make up for diminished skills.

It must be all that quinoa and wilted greens.

Brady’s diet has become almost as famous as the Hall of Fame-bound quarterback himself, inspiring headlines such as “Would you survive for a day on Tom Brady’s diet?” and “I ate Tom Brady’s diet for three weeks and Gisele is still not my wife.” Even perpetually partying tight end Rob Gronkowski is on board.

If you’re thinking about following suit, Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s personal chef, Allen Campbell, went over the basics in an interview with Boston.com last year: “So, 80 percent of what they eat is vegetables. (I buy) the freshest vegetables. If it’s not organic, I don’t use it. And whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, millet, beans. The other 20 percent is lean meats: grass-fed organic steak, duck every now and then, and chicken. As for fish, I mostly cook wild salmon.”

Here, according to Campbell, is what to avoid: “No white sugar. No white flour. No MSG. I’ll use raw olive oil, but I never cook with olive oil. I only cook with coconut oil. Fats like canola oil turn into trans fats. ... I use Himalayan pink salt as the sodium. I never use iodized salt. (Tom) doesn’t eat nightshades, because they’re not anti-inflammatory. So no tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, or eggplants. ... What else? No coffee. No caffeine. No fungus. No dairy.” And, of course, no alcohol.

Asked to describe a typical meal in the Brady household, Campbell said he “did this quinoa dish with wilted greens. I use kale or Swiss chard or beet greens. I add garlic, toasted in coconut oil. And then some toasted almonds, or this cashew sauce with lime curry, lemongrass, and a little bit of ginger.”

If that sounds palatable, all you need now is a personal chef and a really big grocery budget. And therein lies the rub.

It’s not easy for a working-class family in New Hampshire to eat healthy all the time – or often. Packed schedules and money are significant hurdles to haute cuisine, even when cooking ability isn’t. Wild salmon with cashew-lime quinoa might sound great to a mom or dad at the end of a 10-hour day, but a package of hot dogs is cheap and takes five minutes to cook, with minimal cleanup. Throw in a handful of chips and a pickle, and dinner is served. This would be a very different society if the healthiest foods were always the least expensive and easiest to prepare.

So don’t feel bad if you can’t (or really, really don’t want to) eat like Brady – but it wouldn’t hurt for you to think like him.

Brady pays a lot of attention to what he puts into his body because he recognizes that diet plays a crucial role in being able to live the kind of life he wants to live. He is an elite athlete who eats like an elite athlete. If your goal is to eat not like an elite athlete but a generally healthy person on a limited budget, you don’t need Tom’s cookbook. You can do it by feel. A handful of almonds feels different than a bag of Doritos. A glass of water feels different than a bottle of Coke. A small salad feels different than a side of fries.

To search for a perfect diet that is accessible and appealing to everyone is a fool’s errand. The key is to pay close and constant attention to what you choose to put into your body – and how it affects everything else in life that you enjoy.

Your body knows how and what you should eat and drink, and so do you.