India shuttler HS Prannoy's gut feels good
Four months after being diagnosed with a stomach ailment that meant he had to give up some of his favourite food, India shuttler says he has adjusted to the new diet and enjoys preparing meals with a little mixer he carries on tour
Eggs, mushrooms, bacon, milk and milk products. These would constitute a sportsperson's diet. Not for HS Prannoy. In fact, all the above food, which by the way he loved to consume, are now a no-no for India's badminton star since it affected his gut. At times, his erstwhile diet prevented him from lasting on court for more than 20 minutes. It's been four months since Prannoy, 26, made that major diet change and to say he is feeling good is an understatement. Last year, during the July-August BWF World Championships, Prannoy felt like his oesophagus was congested with food, leaving him hungry all the time. At first, he ignored the issue, but the gastroesophageal reflux needed some serious attention. Prannoy was finally able to get to the root of the problem only in January after he decided to seek help.
It all started last August
"It was around August 2018 that I had felt my gut was giving me problems. It took innumerable tests, doctor visits and some consultation with specialists in the United States to get to the root of the problem, which was my food intake. Since February, when I gave up eating the food I loved, especially eggs, milk, mushrooms and bacon, things have got better. It's important to know what you should eat and things that you shouldn't. It's tricky. I got in touch with the Potential Health Development from Bangalore to help me," Prannoy told mid-day on the sidelines of a badminton clinic for kids jointly organised by Yonex Sunrise India and Goregaon Sports Club recently.
Prannoy said he is glad he decided to give up on food he loved as the change meant he could play without hurdles. "Not just one, but I had to make many changes in my life, the most important being my diet. It was difficult in some sense, but it was equally important to accept the fact that without doing this, there is no way forward. The results showed after trying it for just 15 days. That made me follow it on a regular basis. Not eating eggs was really tough, but when you know that you cannot play if you have those things, you give it up. The important factor was to be happy and playing. The biggest sign of change for me in the last couple of months has been that there hasn't been a day when I have not been able to train. So that's a huge achievement for me. "There was a time when I could barely play for 20 minutes; I suffered a lot of discomfort. I would want to take breaks often. The feeling was weird. I did not know what was going on inside my body. It has been exactly four months since I made some lifestyles changes and it has not been too tough," revealed Prannoy, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Scary at events
"I had to accept it, it was a harsh reality. Playing a tournament was scary for the first six months. It was a terrible feeling to see myself struggling to finish each and every match. I have come a long way," the World No. 26 added. Meanwhile, he thanked his Thiruvananthapuram-based parents Haseena and Sunil Kumar for their love and support. "I got support from all quarters, but most importantly from my parents who started staying with me in Hyderabad. I have rented an apartment for them to stay. I did feel lonely at times. Earlier, filling the food chart was a chore, but now I am used to it since I know it is good for me and helps my fitness team monitor me better," said Prannoy, who is set to face Lin Dan in the first round of the Australian Open which starts on June 4. Prannoy now consumes almond milk. "I had soy or almond milk as options but I prefer almond milk. Now, I have learnt to make my own smoothies using almond milk. I even carry a small mixer along wherever I go and it is a good change for me. You cannot monitor each and every ingredient when you travel abroad, so making it on your own solves all those issues. Of late, I have also stopped consuming food with gluten — no wheat for me, although I can have rice."
Cheat days allowed
Having said that, Prannoy does have his share of food cravings and cheats on his diet once in a while. "I'm human so I'm bound to crave for my favourite food. In New Zealand, after my matches, I freaked out on pizza which I am not allowed to have. I had a three to four-week break before another tournament, so I had it," said Prannoy, who fought valiantly before losing to fifth seed Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan in the men's singles quarter-final at the New Zealand Open in the first week of May. Talking about the time when he thought he'd never be able to step on court fully fit, Prannoy said: "Basically, I have stopped comparing my current performances. In January, before we could detect my health problem, I had doubts if I would ever step on court again. I had given up hope as nobody could find exactly what was going on. But I always believed that there might be something that could change my situation. It could take a day or 10 days, and here I am playing once again." The 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualification race is heating up and Prannoy knows it. "The calendar is tough as it's the Olympic qualification year. I cannot play all tournaments with my physical condition so I need to be careful while picking and choosing events and then see how my body responds after a couple of tournaments," Prannoy signed off.
The career-best world ranking achieved by HS Prannoy in May 2018
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