As a world-class athlete, Novak Djokovic is a finely honed machine. Does that include wine?
At a recent wine-tasting evening in New York where he was the guest of honor, the answer was no. Djokovic, who is in New York City for the next two weeks to defend his world No. 1 tennis title at the U.S. Open, abstained from the new Jacob’s Creek Two Lands varietals at the event — even while cooking a personal recipe of pasta and shrimp.
Obviously, he’s made of tougher stuff than the rest of us.
Two other things he doesn't put on his table: gluten and dairy.
Growing up in Serbia, Djokovic worked as a waiter and dishwasher in his family’s Italian-influenced restaurant — he describes the menu as “a lot of pizzas.” His homeland is also famous for its pancakes, which he says meant “wheat was a part of my everyday life — we have bakeries around every corner.”
Being surrounded by gluten took its toll, and he gave it up along with dairy five years ago. “I have a strong kind of sensitivity to gluten because of overconsumption of it,” he says.
That eased once he stopped constantly eating it, and Djokovic can now indulge in the necessary evil/blessing of carbo-loading on pasta and rice before tournaments. (Dairy, however, is still off the menu.)
He also sticks to proteins that are on the lighter side. “I try to have as little animal food as possible,” he says, preferring to get his fuel from plant-based sources like mushrooms, whey, tofu and chickpeas. When he does eat meat, it’s chicken, fish and turkey.
And don’t make the food spicy, otherwise “you would see me more off the court than on the court.”
Though Djokovic admits he leaves meal prep to professionals these days, he cooks with the same laid-back, playful attitude — talking to the ingredients and, fun fact, getting squeamish about head-on shrimp — as he plays. And that’s an example even those of us without any talent at tennis can use to live healthier.