Nutrition and Sport: Happy as a Greek?
Mentalities are changing and the perception of phenomena such as sports and nutrition are changing over time. Thus, society's vision of sport and sports is fluid. While in the Greek antiquity, a central role was given to sport and food, the twentieth century and its massive urbanization reduced the place of sport in everyday life. In recent years, the interest in sports and nutrition seems to be enjoying a second wind. What about the look on the sportsman? We will delve into Greek thinking about sport and nutrition before seeing how our contemporary practices come closer to it. Happy as a Greek, the sportsman of today?
Sport and nutrition among Greeks
The place of sport in Greek society
The Greek antiquity is often evoked for its animated political debates or tragedies. The practice of sport occupied an equally important place in the life of a Greek. The term "Agen" refers to a competition, both athletic and oratorical; the distinction between body and mind is not so marked in Ancient Greece, nowadays: for a Greek spirit, the body and the mind are intimately connected. Thus, the education of young children focuses as much on the physical practice (gymnastics, which is all physical exercise) as on the intellectual training whose pillars are grammar, philosophy, and rhetoric. . For a Greek, to be healthy means to be physically fit, quick-witted and able to express themselves with ease.
The sport put in scene: sportsman venerated
Sport, as the most obvious and palpable manifestation of this good health is put in scene through many rituals. Religion in Greece is not dissociated from everyday life, it is on the contrary integrated: sporting practice is no exception: the Olympic Games had the primary objective of honoring Zeus. Thus great sports competitions are accompanied by religious celebrations and rituals. The sport is practiced without clothes as the term gymnastics illustrates: the prefix "gymno" means "naked". In addition, the athletes overcoat themselves with oil during competitions to warm the muscles before the effort: the Greek stadium gods are shining ! Running on flat terrain was the queen of games; the stadion, the shortest format, corresponding to the length of a stadium (about 200m) is the most prestigious: the winner of this event gives its name to the Olympiad. In this highly competitive environment, nutrition is fast becoming one of the pillars of sports preparation for games.
The healthy mind in a healthy body: nutrition 1ere medecine
Certain frugality characterizes the Greek diet: imposed by harsh climatic conditions and meager harvests; so it is gradually erected into virtue. The gastronomic research is denounced: the Persians are mocked for their taste of luxury and gastronomy; some authors see in their gluttony and lust the reason for their defeat against the Greek armies. The Greeks place an emphasis on nutrition and the link between diet and health is established. Thus, it is common to adapt the diet of a patient to facilitate healing. In the same way the sportsmen are very interested early in their diet : Iccos de Tarente, an athlete of the 5th century BC is presented as the first athlete to have adopted a frugal nutrition and specially adapted according to him to his practice. All are not of this opinion, other athletes are famous for their consumption of wine, bread and meat disproportionate. Pythagoras is the first to advise athletes to eat red meat. This recommendation quickly becomes a reference to the point that Galien blames his sports contemporaries for eating too much meat: he sees it as a danger to the athlete's long-term health. These debates about the consumption of meat lead some Greeks, including athletes to adopt different dietary patterns: Orphism and some Pythagorean currents promote vegetarian diet. This remains a rather marginal practice among athletes.
A return to Greek thought?
The myth of the Divine Athlete
Greek thoughts on sport and nutrition are still very much alive. The topics of interest to the Greeks are being updated at all levels of modern sporting practice. The Greek vision is palpable among others in our relationship with our champions, the return of outdoor sports practices and the renewed interest in sports nutrition. The modern sportsman enjoys an aura which is reminiscent of the recognition accorded by the Greeks to their champions: his name is known to all and personal mythologies develop. When Usain Bolt says he is a living legend, he has every reason to believe it: it is the image the crowd sends back when he looks at it. The champion, when his personal mythology is established, is perceived as omnipotent. In some collective sports, like football, the public gives trust that is almost faith in one player : Messi, Ronaldo, ... are seen as players capable of changing the outcome of a match on their own. This admiring gaze evokes religious veneration which the Greeks had for their athletes, some of whom were seen as heroes or demi-gods. The eyes of the crowd eventually persuade some champions of their own deity: if the confession of Lance Armstrong we learn one thing is the magnitude of the pressure on the shoulders of a champion. Faced with so many expectations, some take refuge in doping to hope to achieve the expected performance of them.
The ubiquitous sport in our society
Far from the champions and their imposing and intoxicating celebrity, sport is now found everywhere in our everyday life. An object of choice for the media, it largely occupies the television, press and radio space. Between professional and therefore mercantile practice and personal practice, there is a world. The public does not stop at the screen, seeing is no longer enough: beyond its significant media coverage, sport is also increasingly practiced and integrated into the daily life of amateurs.
Sport practice diversifies : Beyond sports halls, more and more people are looking for a more authentic sporting experience, outdoors, without machines: trail running, for example, is gaining more and more followers.
Nutrition back in the spotlight
If sport is in the spotlight, nutrition is not far behind. Indeed, good practices are now known, the question for the majority is now at the level the leap between theory and practice. Endurance events such as triathlons or marathons lead athletes to look for all the levers that could allow them to maximize their performance. The distances traveled as well as the unevenness represent an effort that requires nothing less thana modern version of the Greek hero / sportsman to overcome them. Thus, nutrition quickly catches their attention: it plays a central role in endurance. Good luck running a fasting marathon!
Different alternative diets seeking to return to more natural nutrition emerge. The main motivations of their followers are physical They want to be fit, feel good in their bodies and live long. Paleo-regime for example proposes to return to the nutrition of our ancestors. This mainly involves avoiding sugars, grains, legumes and starchy foods. The caveman would still have many things to teach us. In the same way, the Okinawa regime and the Cretan regime from epilonyms and famous for the longevity of their inhabitants focuses on simple foods.
The desire to return to a simpler, healthier diet that is in harmony with our body and its environment is palpable.
It would seem that our vision of well-being goes back to its Greek origins. Being in good shape in 2020 is no longer just about being fit for good physical performance. Food plays a vital role. To be in good health is to be well nourished, comfortable with your body in good physical shape and quick-witted.
There is still time to make good resolutions for this very special year.
It is therefore important to keep in mind the balance of your nutritional plate: indulge yourself with a plate full of good things.
Also remain vigilant on possible deficiencies due to repeated efforts and LISTEN TO HIS BODY.
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