Spending a week at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Emperors Palace Poker Classic in Johannesburg is a vivid reminder of just how difficult it is to eat healthily once you leave the confines of your own home.
I continually blame the poker circuit for my shortcomings when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, but when I speak to Ryan D’Angelo I am reminded of my own mantra to take 100% responsibility for my own life.
D’Angelo is a professional poker player who spends more time in casinos than I do and yet his diet consists of raw fruit and vegetables because he steadfastly refuses to waiver on his beliefs and values when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle.
I caught up with D’Angelo as he was sat on the rail waiting for his girlfriend, and fellow raw food nut Ronit Chamani, to take part in the WPT Emperors Palace Poker Classic final table, and this is what he had to say.
“This summer my girlfriend studied at the Living Light Culinary Institute. We actually met through raw food. I came to her table at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) a few years ago with a green juice in my hand, and straight away we started talking about how she had just done a juice retreat in Costa Rica. I am really into juicing, healthy eating and nutrition, so we had both food and poker in common.
“Since we have met we have a lot of ideas on how to change the world through raw food. We have seen heart disease, cancer and diabetes just in our inner circle, and everyone we know has people who are affected by that. It’s crazy when you realize that our bodies can heal themselves if you feed it the right fuel.”
But how do you manage to eat when playing on the poker circuit?
“Everywhere we go, the first step we take is to find the best quality produce, the best healthy restaurants and try to stay active and healthy. It leads to more energy and mental clarity around the poker table, which is a win-win.
“It’s tough though, because in America for example, most restaurants only give you a few healthy options. When it comes to raw food you really need to make it a priority everywhere you go, and it really translates into better energy and a better vibe. You have to be prepared. Find out where your Farmers Markets are, the best grocery stores and then buy a bunch of stuff. If you are in a hotel room I take a small blender with me and I will buy some fruits and make juices. If I hire an apartment and have a kitchen I stock with lots of fruits and vegetables.”
The food industry is the master of deceit Most people don’t even know what they are eating, what tips do you have for someone to help them choose the right foods when shopping?
“When Ronit and I shop we don’t go into the center of the grocery store we stay on the outside where all the fresh produce is. When you are buying stuff that’s cooked and dead you are going to become that energy, and it will become you. If you are eating fresh, living, healthy organic foods, you have that living energy coursing through your veins and every cell in your body thanks you for it.”
Once you realize that our food industries are slowly killing us, it makes you want to shout from he rooftops. So how do you retain that right balance so you don’t come across as some kind of preacher?
“At first it was really tough for me because I was excited about the message I wanted to send out to the world. I was blown away to learn that you could heal your self through raw food and juicing. I have seen so many people turn so many health conditions around – some that people say are terminal – but it’s your body in a state of sickness that will turn itself around if you go for colonics and feed yourself salads, drink juice and eat good food.
“It was especially difficult with those closest to me. I had close family that are overweight and sick and I would say, “please implement this into your life’. I now realize you have to lead by example. Show you are dedicated to it, and every time you see these people you are more energetic, your skin is more clear and you are more vibrant, they are going to be like, ‘Wow! What is this person doing?
“The people, who are interested in changing will come to you for advice and those are the people on your consciousness level and are willing to change. My Grandparents were two of the first people I told about this and they bought juicers for my entire family. But it’s tough to teach an old dog new tricks. The older generation has been eating bacon eggs and coffee for a long time.
“Another problem is that people think eating yoghurt and oatmeal is sensible, but those foods are not rich in minerals and water content, which is what our body craves. You want to be eating raw fruits and vegetables that are high in minerals, enzymes and water content. They are easier to digest, making you feel more energetic. When you eat a big meal you feel sluggish, when you eat five apples, or drink a juice you don’t feel that way.”
Where can people get the right foods?
“I always look at it like this: good, better, best. The best is to get local produce from your Farmers Market, organic biodynamic foods. Just under that is to go to a nice market like Whole Foods, but if you don’t have one just go to the local supermarket and just eat raw fruits and vegetables. Eating a conventional apple or banana is a hundred times better than eating a tin of spaghetti or processed foods. They are all dead, they are full of chemicals, full of sugar, gluten and dairy; all of these foods leave a mucus and residue in your body.
“You have to look at food as a source of energy and not a source of pleasure. You shouldn’t live to eat, you should eat to live. You should be eating because it’s fuel for your body, not because it’s something fun to do or a form of entertainment. It’s become a major part of our culture to go out to dinner instead of going to the park and playing Frisbee. Restaurants are not healthy places and this is why people are getting sick.”
Well he has certainly inspired me to change.