“I literally couldn’t play tennis anymore,” said Williams. A new diet, however, proved successful in helping her combat a common autoimmune condition.
In 2011, tennis competitor Venus Williams was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a fairly common autoimmune disease. That newly discovered information explained why she was suffering from dry eye and dry mouth, as well as crushing joint pain and fatigue. Though she didn’t want to stop playing the sport, she was forced to withdraw from the 2011 U.S. Open in the second round due to the painful symptoms.
She told Motto:
“I literally couldn’t play tennis anymore. […] Because it was starting to take away what I loved, I had to make some changes, I had to change my life. Thankfully, I was able to find something that helped me get back to doing what I loved.”
After consulting with various experts and adopting a drastically different diet, she returned to the court and is able to follow her passion once again. The latter part of the overwhelming change involved Williams opting to eat a completely raw and vegan diet, which involves eliminating all animal products and foods cooked above 118 degrees F.
Proponents of the lifestyle claim that the diet is least offensive to the body, as it maximizes health due to the rich enzyme and nutrient content of plants which haven’t been denatured due to heat. And, it involves more than eating 10 bananas in one sitting to stay full. Using tools such as a food processor, blender, and dehydrator, one can replicate satisfying dishes such as lasagna, pizza, zucchini pasta, and even desserts!
“Once I started I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible,” commented Venus. “Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.”
The tennis superstar credits the strict diet with changing her whole life. It changed the pace that I live at. It changed everything,” she claims. Of course, there were challenges. Explained Williams:
“There are definitely challenges, though, but it’s about how you face them and how you come on top so you can live in a way that is acceptable to you. So, it has been wonderful to still do what I love. And even though I still have issues, it doesn’t mean they’re going to stop me.”
In order to maintain mental sanity and a healthy love of food, the athlete confided that she’s pretty relaxed when it comes to substituting alternates or spicing up a dish with foods like “pan-fried garlic.” It’s about balance, and that’s why Williams recommends an 80/20 rule (or 90/20, or 70/30), which means 80% clean eating and 20% cheat foods – or, whatever ratio works for the individual adhering to new dietary principles.
“Be good most of the time, and sometimes just don’t go to the gym, or have that bag of chips. But if you’re being healthy most of the time, then that helps to keep a balance so you can meet your goals, whatever those are,” she divulged.
The overall takeaway from the interview with Williams is that diet does play a major role in one’s healing process and that a plant-based diet may just work wonders when it comes to reducing inflammation in the body. If you’re inspired to learn more about a plant-based diet, click here for free recipes!
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