Famed professional quarterback Drew Brees, and his philanthropist wife, Brittany, joined the So Delicious Dairy Free team in 2012. His position is to help spread the word about their foods for households managing food allergies and food sensitivities.This is Drew’s personal story – how he found out about his food sensitivities, how he maintains optimal performance on the field, mentors young pros and is a role model for kids who suffer from allergies and food sensitivities as well.
Being a Professional Athlete with Food Sensitivities and Allergies
Everything I do as an athlete, I think about maximizing performance. So anything I put in my body, I think about ‘how’s this going to help me perform at the highest level?” And, ‘how’s it going to help me recover the fastest?’ If you have an allergy or sensitivity to certain types of food and you are putting those into your body, your body is taking energy away from repairing muscle and helping you with recovery or performance. It becomes challenging because you want to make sure that you’re only putting things into your body that you know are going to help you perform at an optimal level and also help you recover as quickly as possible.
Brittany and I first got tested for food allergies back in 2004. I had started to feel really lethargic and just felt like I wasn’t operating at the highest level. That’s when we both went in for testing. We both came back with sensitivities to dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) and gluten, and I was also allergic to some nuts. As you can imagine, I was shocked because I was consuming most of these things every day. And just to think how long I’ve had these sensitivities and had continued to feed them. I felt it was time for a change.
I think more and more people are aware of allergies and food sensitivities now than they ever have been before. The biggest thing for us is that there are great alternatives to dairy milk, regular yogurt and cheese. For example, coconut milk products are an excellent alternative if you’re not consuming dairy. And they’re also a delicious addition to your diet, even if you aren’t allergic to dairy – from the medium chain fatty acids in coconut milk to the great taste.
Role Model for Kids with Food Allergies and Sensitivities
You see kids mimic things that athletes are doing. I hope kids would be able to see a professional athlete like myself and say, “Hey, he’s got the same food allergies that I do and he’s able to be a professional athlete and play at a high level — that means I can too!”
I believe a lot of it starts with education and letting people see what you’re doing and hoping that they will understand the value in the information, especially for those kids who suffer from food allergies or sensitivities. Whether it’s an after school snack or refueling after sports practice, there are so many options that help kids and parents can manage food choices successfully. It’s a matter of changing your mindset from what you can’t have, to all the tasty things you can. Like the So Delicious No Sugar Added Coconut Milk Fudge Bars our family enjoys for dessert. Our boys don’t even miss ice cream.
Mentoring Young Pros
Guys coming in fresh out of college are used to going to the training table and eating and drinking whatever they’re given. In many cases, I see myself as a veteran player – pulling those young guys aside and, as part of teaching young players how to be a pro, talking to them about their diet, their sleep habits and their recovery. They’ll start to ask questions like, “Hey Drew, what do you do?” That’s when I explain to them that I use coconut milk and almond milk products.
They often question the taste, but my wife Brittany has even been known to trick them by sending me to practice with homemade treats where she substituted in coconut milk. And, they don’t even notice the difference!
For us, we love the taste and we love how easy it is to incorporate dairy alternatives into our daily routine.
Bottom line: if you have a food allergy or sensitivity to dairy, or even if you don’t, give coconut or almond milk products a try. They’ve been a game changer for our family.
Do you have a non-dairy recipe or product you love? Tell me about it in the comments below.
DISCLAIMER: This information is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for medical advice. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Consult a health care professional for further information about food allergies or sensitivities.