Health in Action: Seattle Storm Dietitian Wendy Caamano
How do you keep a team of professional basketball players in tip-top shape? By teaching them how to listen to their bodies. In the following Q&A, Seattle Storm dietitian Wendy Caamano (MS, RD, CD) breaks down some simple healthy-eating tips—perfect for professional athletes and everyday athletes alike.
ANW: Why are you passionate about nutrition and exercise?
Wendy: I really believe that nutrition and exercise can make a difference in our lives. I’m also passionate about keeping it simple. Nowadays we are so worried about what we “should” and “shouldn’t” eat and what exercise we “have” to do. I like taking some of that pressure off of people and helping them realize that they can actually enjoy food and exercise because it feels good, not just because they have to. I love improving my clients’ relationship with food and helping them understand how food and fitness can help them feel better all around.
ANW: You practice philosophies like “Intuitive Eating.” What exactly does that mean?
Wendy: Becoming an intuitive eater means you learn to listen and trust your body—like knowing the cues for hunger and fullness. This philosophy helps you develop a healthy relationship with food and puts the yo-yo dieting to rest. It teaches you to eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full and to really enjoy food when you’re eating it. Intuitive eating helps get rid of all the rules and guilt too. Once someone truly embraces the philosophy, it’s extremely freeing and life changing.
ANW: What’s your number one tip for someone who wants to start living a healthier lifestyle?
Wendy: Start simple with small changes—there’s no need to go to extremes. Introduce healthier food options into your diet, and eventually they will displace some of the options that aren’t as healthy. For example, if you set a goal to eat two pieces of fruit a day, you may decide to reach for a healthy snack, like an apple, instead of an unhealthy one, like potato chips. Also realize that you don’t need to be perfect. Look at the big picture (in terms of weeks and months), and if in that time you eat healthy overall, don’t worry about the ten percent of the time you don’t.
ANW: How do you ensure the Seattle Storm players get proper nutrition?
Wendy: Usually by telling them to just eat! Professional athletes and athletes in general don’t realize how much energy their bodies actually need in order to maximize performance. A big part of my program is helping them understand the timing of meals and snacks and what ratios of carbohydrate and protein are needed for optimal nutrition.
Currently I’m providing the players with a nutrition series that gives them the knowledge for proper nutrition, plus ideas and recipes that meet their nutritional needs.
ANW:What does “Take Your Health by Storm” mean to you?
Wendy: It’s your health, so take it by Storm! Making healthy changes is something that you have control over, so what are you waiting for? Start with small changes and goals to see what makes you feel better.