We catch up with Malaysian gymnast Farah Ann Abdul Hadi for a chat on athletic diets and how she tackles her cravings for char kway teow and roti telur.
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Farah Ann Abdul Hadi
Above Photo: Courtesy of Farah Ann Abdul Hadi

What fuels a top performing gymnast to the heights of gold medal territory? Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, who defended and retained her gold medal during the SEA Games last year, reveals that what an athlete eats may not necessarily be so different to that of non-athletes.

Sure, come game time she has to eat cleaner and leaner in preparation, but after the dust has settled Farah Ann loves a good char kway teow or roti telur just like the rest of us.

Here's what she has to say on the matter:

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What are your favourite foods? Cuisines?

I enjoy a variety of foods, ranging from barbeque beef ribs to lasagne, as well as Malaysian foods, such as char kway teow and roti telur, to other dishes such as sushi.

What are your favourite healthy go-to snacks during your training period?

I love bananas, small pieces of chocolate and jelly packs that have carbohydrates in them.

What is your take on food? Is healthy eating a lifestyle choice?

I feel that food is fuel and if you eat the right foods, it will give you what you need for your body to look and feel great. I believe that healthy eating is a lifestyle choice because with the variety of fast food outlets today it is very easy to form unhealthy eating habits.

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How do you balance your cravings for Malaysian favourites between healthy eating?

The way I balance it out is to have a flexible eating regime. I have my Malaysian favourites when I’m craving it but I won’t overeat. This way, I am able to satisfy my cravings but not go overboard when I don’t take any at all. In the end, we all love food and moderation is the key.

Do you cook? Can you suggest any easy-to-make yet healthy meal?

I don’t cook meals but I do love eating steamed chicken with carrots and potato.

Can you tell us the difference between the diet of an athlete versus a regular person?

An athlete’s diets is very specific towards the sport that they are involved in. My sport in general is very largely based on a healthy diet portioned meal. This means a variety of carbohydrates, protein, minerals and lots of water. Nearing competition season I stay away from sweets as well as oily or fatty foods. In contrast, a regular person would just be focued on maintaining a healthy diet.

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Farah Ann Abdul Hadi 2
Above Photo: Courtesy of Farah Ann Abdul Hadi

What about the difference between a gymnast’s diet versus that of another sport?

My diet as an artistic gymnast has me eating a well-rounded meal made up of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Also, because we are not a weight based sport, we only need to maintain our own weights based on what we are comfortable in. For example, the food intake of a weightlifter would be very different.

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