Meet Chef Dan Churchill, who helps Lindsey Vonn focus on mindful eating and healthy choices before and after tiring workouts.
by Blake Bakkila
With the Olympics fast approaching, we’re eager to get our hands on our favorite athletes’ top performance tips and tricks. Lucky for us, U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn’s personal chef revealed to us her go-to snack.
“My coffee bliss balls,” chef Dan Churchill, who partnered with the Almond Board of California to create three recipes using almond milk, tells Health.
Churchill says the bites, which have seven ingredients (espresso, dates, coconut flour, walnuts, vanilla extract, honey, and cacao powder), have a high glycemic index. Better known as “GI,” glycemic index is a nutritional ranking that classifies foods based on how quickly they raise blood sugar.
Churchill says the high GI in his coffee bliss balls makes them a super healthy, quick-energy snack for Vonn before and after a tiring workout.
Other foods the medal winner loves include eggs and oats. But there's one product she doesn't seem so keen to put in her mouth: cheese. Though Vonn is famously known for spreading it on her knees (what she calls “cheese therapy”), Churchill says he hasn’t made cheese a big part of her meal plan.
Churchill doesn't just help Vonn choose what to eat—he focuses on how she should eat as well. His smart strategy is mindful eating, which means really tuning in to and enjoying meals, so you feel more satisfaction and are less likely to overeat.
“My job is to not only put her in a position nutritionally, but also give her the head space,” he says. “The moment she gets back from an event or off the mountain, when she’s eating, it’s her time just to be her."
Churchill feels mindful eating can benefit everyone, from athletes training for Pyeongchang to the rest of us going through the workday. “We see people rushing around and trying to get food in when they can, and I think we sometimes forget that eating is such a beautiful time,” he says. “You need your mind to switch off.”