Date night shouldn’t be a diet debacle.
As much as we love date night, nothing kills the mood like your honey whispering the words “MSG” and “1,300 calories in one portion” in your ear. A July 2013 study published in The Journal of Internal Medicine found that, on average, meals from 19 sit-down restaurant chains served up a whopping 1,128 calories. They also included 151 percent of the recommended daily sodium intake, and 89 percent of the daily fat value (with 83 percent of that fat being of the saturated and trans fat variety). The study didn’t include the addition of appetizers, drinks, condiments, or dessert, so if you normally have a glass of wine and want to split a starter, you can be sure you’re way over your daily dose of naughty before you even get to that goodnight kiss.
While this news alone makes it tempting to ditch date night, know this: Being an athlete doesn’t mean being a complete bore. We asked local fitness buffs about how they balance a good time with good, performance-friendly food. Here are their best tips.
The Paleo Belly Dancer
Who: Carrie Robinson, age 57. “I’m not a typical 57 year old…I’m going to do as much as I can to stay fit so I can stay this way. My husband and I are on a quest to be the most fit we have ever been.”
Relationship Status: Married
Athletic Background: Belly dancer and teacher of water aerobics. During season she also teaches a walking class at the Naples Botanical Gardens.
Nutrition Philosophy: Paleo. “Because we work a lot, we hired Chris Deluca of Declua’s Eatery Healthy Meal Plan Delivery. Every Monday he delivers meals, and they are Paleo.”
Favorite Spots: The Riverwalk in Naples, where the couple split a pound of shrimp. They also likes Cosmos in Naples, “But we don’t get pizza. They have a great salad with grilled chicken.” For special occasions, they enjoy going to Chops in Bonita Springs, where Robinson often gets the salmon, which is blackened on a cedar plank and served with a miso-butter sauce, a cauliflower mash, and sautéed fresh spinach.
The Vegan Pro
Who: Aubrey Aldy, age 33
Relationship status: Married eight years, parent of two dogs.
Athletic Background: Professional triathlete, triathlon coach, and Army veteran (Combat Medic).
Nutrition Philosophy: Vegan. “No meat, no dairy, no added oils. Occasionally I have a bit of cheese or something,” explained Aldy, whose wife originally introduced vegan nutrition to their household. Aldy is all plant-based, but he does eat a lot of carbs. “I’d say I go through five loaves of bread per week.” Favorite bread? Whole Food’s loaves. Aldy also eats lots of pasta, rice and potatoes.
Favorite Spots: The couple really likes Loving Hut in Naples for both dine-in and take-out. “There have been times when I’ll get there after training and I’ll be so hungry that we order two or three entrees,” he admits. Aldy also raved about the Three Amigos Tacos from the Cider Press Café, which feature walnut picadillo tacos, guacamole, pico de gallo, and an amazing poblano macadamia cream.
The No-Label New Mom
Who: Laura Veilleux, age 26.
Relationship Status: Married, with a three-month-old baby.
Athletic Background: Runner who describes herself as a little competitive. Her husband Nate is also a runner and triathlete, and both are members of the Speedsters in Fort Myers. (You might also recognize Laura and Nate from their appearance in last year’s Power Couple issue.)
Nutrition Philosophy: “We don’t have any sort of label,” says Veilleux, adding that her family’s focus is on eating whole foods and things that are not processed.
Favorite Spots: Pizza Fusion in Fort Myers, where the duo make up their own pizza by ordering the spinach and artichoke pie—which features sautéed spinach, big chunks of roasted artichoke hearts, roasted garlic and tangy tomato sauce—and then adding extra vegetables. At Mad Fresh Bistro in Fort Myers, the couple enjoy the flatbreads; Nate especially likes the Parisian, a stone-fired flatbread topped with grilled steak. When they want to dress up and get a bit fancier, they head to Naples and Seasons 52. “It’s a bit harder for us to get to, but [is] one of our favorite spots.”
The Paleo CrossFit Box Owner
Who: Marcus Watts, age 30
Relationship Status: In a Relationship.
Athletic Background: Owner of CrossFit Lawless where he’s also the head coach. Played professional basketball overseas and collegiate basketball.
Nutrition Philosophy: Strictly Paleo for the last three years. “I enjoy eating clean,” he says, but recently he’s been adding in organic rice and potatoes to his diet because he has a hard time keeping weight on.
Favorite Restaurants: Bar Louie in the Gulf Coast Town Center, because “they have high quality burgers.” For lunch, he likes Rusty’s Raw Bar and Grill in Estero for its really good coffee, and orders a freshly grilled burger with no bun, no cheese, but adds salty bacon and tangy mustard. Instead of fries, he opts for vegetables on the side.
The Unprocessed Family
Who: Maura Granger, age 43.
Relationship Status: lives with partner Eric Rickis and their blended family of six kids, four of which are currently living at home.
Athletic Background: Triathlete, two-time Ironman and running club coach. Eric is training for his first half Ironman.
Nutrition Philosophy: “We don’t follow a certain plan. We try to do about 80-90 percent not processed foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables rather than everything coming from a box,” says Granger. The couple cooks a lot and avoids fast food.
Favorite Restaurants: Caffe Toscano in Ft. Myers, where “everything is always fresh and quality food.” They also like Nevermind in Cape Coral where Granger especially enjoys the Colorado Lamb Burger with homemade ketchup, and the roasted Brussels sprouts, which is called “Awesome Greens and Brussels on the Griddle.” They enjoy Yabo in Ft. Myers for the live music. “We go there for the atmosphere, and sometimes we just sit at the bar and have a drink.”