Josh Owens: 3 Eating Habits

As a professional athlete, your overall health is fundamental to the longevity of your career. Consequently, taking care of your body is a 24/7 responsibility that extends far beyond practice, strength/conditioning workouts, and physical therapy sessions. I’m constantly seeking new ways to invest in the health and wellbeing of my body. What you put in, is what you get out. Sometimes it’s a pedicure. My teammates (past and present) like to joke that “you’ve got to take care of the money makers”. Sometimes it’s calling it a night at 9:15PM on a Friday. I’ve never been disappointed the next morning. But one area that’s become more of a priority overseas has been food.

Food is fuel. I’m 6’9” and a lot of human being. Working out and beating my body to exhaustion is pretty much my job. Needless to say, I need to EAT. No, not eat… EAT. When you’re alone overseas, that’s quite a bit of responsibility. Goodbye to the days of crawling out of practice and going straight to a smorgasbord of deliciousness at training table. These days I crawl into my apartment praying there are enough leftovers to qualify as a decent meal. But seriously, cooking isn’t always easy and going out to eat isn’t always cost effective.

So how do I fuel myself without fading into malnutrition or constantly cooking into the midnight hour? I eliminate as much risk and uncertainty as possible from my weekly eating routine. Here are three strategies I use to stay fueled while overseas.

A Consistent Grocery List

Staying nourished during the week all begins at the grocery store. When abroad, that first grocery store visit will either make you rejoice with golden trumpets or sob to your mom on a 3AM FaceTime call. Thankfully after I got past the foreign labels and inflated prices I rejoiced. I then spent a few weeks analyzing my eating habits within the context of my new schedule. How often will I really cook? How much do I really eat? From here I was able to engineer a weekly “no nonsense” basket of  variable goods that I can buy with my eyes closed. These are the items that run out each and every week. Other goods like rice, cereal, potatoes, pasta etc are bought every few weeks. For dinner dishes that require something outside the list, I gladly walk across the street and purchase as needed. This sets the foundation for all my meals during the week and keeps costs down. My list is as follows:

2 Red Peppers

2 Yellow Peppers

1 Green Pepper

3 Onions

3 Tomatoes

1 Eggplant

1 Bin Mushrooms

1 Bag of Oranges

2 500g tins of Hummus (1 pesto, 1 roasted pepper)

2 dozen eggs

2 cartons 3% Milk

1 Loaf Sliced Sandwich Bread

1 Bag hoagie rolls

2 kg chicken breast

1 kg ground beef

1 Bin Ice Cream

400g Sliced Cheese of Choice (usually Gouda)

200g Grated Parmesan

900g Sliced Turkey Meat

450g Sliced Bacon

2 Bags Pretzels/Chips

With this list, I know exactly what I’m going buy. I know almost exactly how much it will cost. And during the week I know what I have to work with. This makes planning meals much easier.

An Everyday Meal

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Just like my grocery list, I like to have a meal that I don’t even have to think about during the week. For me, it’s breakfast. I don’t want to think about it because I know I must eat it… otherwise I’ll be hangry. And no one wants that. Trust me. Each morning I get up and take my morning walk knowing when I get home, I’ll make my 15 minute, everyday breakfast.

4 Eggs Scrambled

2 Slices of Cheese

4-5 Pieces of Bacon

1-2 Potatoes (Hashbrowns)

1 Orange

That simple. Quick, easy and filling. And no, it never gets old.

Emergency Dinners

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My last weekly strategy is having “go-to” dinners. Some Most days after practice, cooking is last thing you want to do. On those days where I have no leftovers and minimal energy, I rely on emergency meals. These are relatively quick recipes that I’ve memorized, and cooked enough times to prepare on demand. That means no Google searching and no fidgeting through my AllRecipes app. Keeping with the theme of consistency, these recipes also require few or no “non-list” items; all the ingredients are on hand thanks to my consistent weekly grocery list.

One of my favorites is a twist on a pasta dish I fell in love with while in Italy. Trust me, a few months ago this would’ve never qualified as a quick emergency meal. It’s also modified to expedite the cooking process and save time. From a culinary perspective, I’m sure my cooking method is highly unconventional. The last time I made it I used:

3 Chicken Breasts

6 Slices Bacon

1 Red Pepper

1 Onion

1/2 Dozen Mushrooms

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Tomato

~3/4 Cup Heavy Cream

~2 Tablespoons Butter

~1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

~ 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan

~1 lb Pasta

1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg

Salt/Pepper to Taste

(Without going into too much detail, the garlic is minced then sautéed in olive oil with the chopped veggies and diced bacon. Simultaneously I put a large pot of lightly salted water on boil. After the veggie-bacon mix begins to brown, I add the cubed chicken breast, heavy cream and half the butter, bring to a boil then simmer until the chicken has almost cooked through. I then stir in half of the grated parmesan cheese. The concoction simmers for 5-10min while the pasta cooks. When done, I drain the pasta and toss with the remaining butter. I return the pasta to the pot before mixing in the sauce, remaining parmesan cheese, and dash of nutmeg. It sits for a few min on low heat and then it’s time to feast.)

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And there you have it. Three ways I keep myself from going hungry abroad. It takes some time and practice, but at the end of a long grueling week of practice and games, it’s definitely worth it.


Joshua Owens
2° of Freedom
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