Text by Nicolas Heffernan
Food nutrition has come a long way since Nathalie Lambert was winning Olympic medals for Canada.
The Montreal native won speed skating gold in the Albertville games and two silvers in Lillehammer but her career was nearly derailed by a vitamin deficiency. “For two years when I was skating I was iron-deficient and I had anemia and it was a very tough time in my life. I really want to make sure nothing like that is happening to [my kids],” she says.
As a mother and fitness expert working with the Club Sportif de MAA, formerly the Montreal Athletics Association, she is preaching the importance of a healthy lifestyle and using her profile as a successful athlete to help people make good choices by endorsing products like Saputo’s new Milk2Go, a ready-to-drink protein shake with made with fresh milk.
How do you choose what products you endorse?
[It’s] based on do I believe in the product, do I think it’s actually good for people, would I recommend that for my kids. If the answer to all of that is yes, then ok. If it’s not yes to all three, then no.
How has becoming a mother changed the way you view nutrition?
I pay way more attention to what I put in the lunchbox of my kids than I would for myself. For me it’s really important that they eat a balanced diet and they have on a daily basis all the nutrients, protein and vitamins they need.
How has sports nutrition changed since you were competing?
I think the science of sport period has changed since I was competing. We now know how to build specific qualities, how to recover from training. There’s not just the head coach anymore, there’s all the scientists that are helping and they’re fine tuning preparation and the major place they’re working on is really the recovery between one workout and the next.
What is your favourite food to cook with?
I use a lot of olive oil. I come from a family where we would do everything with butter and I’m not saying butter is not good – butter is part of a balanced life – but I’ve shifted more to using olive oil and those special oils.
Food-wise, what is your guilty pleasure?
I have a lot of them. I love popcorn. Popcorn and wine are my guilty pleasure. To me it rhymes with relaxation.
When you were competing, how was the food in the athlete’s village?
Very good. It’s much better now but it was already very good. I’ve been in Vancouver as the chef de mission and I have to say the cafeteria, ‘Oh, my god. Unbelievable.’