Venus Williams’ 2011 diagnosis of Sjögrens Syndrome affected her performance on the court, but with a few changes she was able to make a comeback.
The tennis star told Health magazine that proper treatment and a raw vegan diet are to thank for getting her back to the game. In addition to causing dry eye, dry mouth, fatigue and intense joint pain, Williams’ said Sjögrens kept her from playing tennis.
“Because it was starting to take away what I loved, I had to make some changes, I had to change my life,” Williams told Health.
Switching to a raw vegan diet, meaning no animal products or food cooked above 118 degrees Fahrenheit, was the change she needed. According to her website eliminating extra calories, pesticides and sugars gave her body the strength to fight the autoimmune disease.
“Once I started I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible,” she told the magazine. “Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me.”
The AM starts with wheat grass, green juice and here is lunch hummus & veggies on sprouted bread, all raw vegan pic.twitter.com/3wfbTQhN
— Venus Williams (@Venuseswilliams) February 9, 2013
While a raw vegan diet doesn’t sound like the most appetizing way to live, Williams still finds foods she enjoys. She says one of her favorite meals is a celery-root soup.
“I get celery root, tomato, and some Silk almond milk as a base to thicken it a little bit, and then maybe I’ll add pan-fried garlic on top, maybe some truffle oil,” she says.
She also believes in treating herself. To satisfy her sweet tooth, Williams will go for an orange creamsicle smoothie. She makes it with Silk milk, oranges, a little banana, vanilla flavoring and sometimes a little coconut oil.
— Venus Williams (@Venuseswilliams) July 15, 2015
Williams admits she still has complications from Sjogrens, and that the diet can be difficult, but knowing the benefits she keeps at it.
“…even though I still have issues, it doesn’t mean they’re going to stop me,” she said.
A raw vegan diet might not be for everyone, but Williams has advice for any diet goals. Check out her five tips for eating right:
1. Enjoy what you are eating.
No matter what diet you are following, make sure you are consuming things you like. “If you can’t enjoy your eating, I don’t know how fun life would be!”
2. Always have a replacement food.
Williams says if you love chips, find an alternative like kale chips so you don’t feel like you are missing out.
3. Set a goal.
She says setting goals and working toward them will make you feel good. She even suggests using an app to track it.
4. Don’t let yourself get too hungry.
The idea is if you are hungry you will make bad decisions. Stay on track and keep eating.
5. 90/10, 80/20 or 70/30 Rule
If you are being good 80 percent of the time, the 20 percent of cheating won’t be that bad. Williams says keeping a balance of mostly healthy behaviors will still allow you to meet your goals.