PATRICK PETERSON NEWS
The Real Life Diet Of Patrick Peterson
At some point during their career, no matter how much on-court or on-field or on-pitch success they might enjoy, every athlete will face some unexpected obstacle that seems insurmountable. For Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, a three-time All-Pro who has also been invited to the Pro Bowl all six seasons of his professional career, that moment came during the 2014 campaign. “That was the last time I cried,” he recalls today. “That’s how depressed I was after that season.”
Peterson signed an extension during training camp that made him the game’s highest-paid corner at the time, but got off to an uncharacteristically sloppy start, conceding four touchdowns in the team’s first five games. Playing above his normal weight and battling unexplained sluggishness each week, he eventually got to the root of his troubles at the urging of his wife, an osteopathic physician: He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Peterson immediately began to make changes to his diet, and his play over the remainder of the year was enough to earn him his fourth straight Pro Bowl nod. We recently caught up with Peterson to learn about how the diagnosis changed his life, the now-forbidden foods he misses the most, and why the man spends every off-season walking 13 miles a week.
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GQ: How did you react to news of your diagnosis?
Patrick Peterson: It was a shock! When you hear “diabetes,” you often think of it as something that affects older people. I never really had a clear understanding of what diabetes really was. It was a shock. “Wait, really?”
I definitely saw a change in my body going through that process, though. I knew something wasn’t right. My wife was on me: “Go see what’s wrong.” She’s with me every day, so she noticed the changes, like weight gain and sluggishness and a lot of sleeping. Since diabetes runs in my family, it was easy for me to get Type 2 [diabetes]. Type 1, where the body doesn’t produce insulin, is more severe. I’m just happy that the type I have is a bit more manageable.
What were you eating at that time?
It was just a ton of fried food, and a ton of food packed with sodium, like collard greens—stuff black people like. [Laughs] I loved that food, and since my wife is from New Orleans, she cooked it almost every other week.
As far as foods go, you have to watch the fried stuff that packs a lot of sodium. That was the main part, honestly—just looking out for the greases and butter and sodium. Instead of regular butter, I use coconut oil.
I also took a food-allergy test. I believe that was the biggest thing in getting my body back in shape. I went to a naturopathic doctor and had him do my blood work, and found out what my body is allergic to and what my body can take. That’s when I really got dialed in—when I could see on a chart that I couldn’t have something, like green grapes, or pineapple, or even watermelon. And those are just the fruits! That's what a naturopathic doctor does, and having that test done was a game-changer for me.
How did you react to criticism of your play, especially after you signed such a lucrative off-season contract?
You know what? Honestly, I don’t pay much attention. [laughs] I don’t really watch TV, and when I do, it’s the Golf Channel or something my wife has on. I don’t watch sports shows or read clippings. And hearing things from other people—like any other football player—it’s like, “Fuck it, that’s just talk.” I really don’t have the time to deal with the other stuff.
It was obvious that I was overweight, but no one knew why. I wasn’t going to blame it on one thing, like this is why I’m playing poorly. It was part of the reason, but at the same time, I put myself in that position. I was the one putting bad things in my body that weren’t supposed to be in there. My mindset was, “Yeah, I’m playing shitty, and sorry.” I just had to do something to fix it.
One of the things I've heard about your diagnosis is that you started taking walks with your wife while she was pregnant, and you still do that today.
I was going to mention that, because it helped a lot! I find myself walking 13 miles a week. No joke: 13 miles a week. Honestly, you find yourself thinking of so much stuff when you’re walking because, first of all, it’s quiet. When I walk, I don’t walk with my music. I just want to listen to the birds chirping, and the wind. I have peace of mind. It’s like therapy.
It’s like I’m on this big-ass field, except it’s 200 miles long and 200 miles wide, and it’s just me and nature. In the wintertime, that’s all I do. From January to March—that’s the off-season—all I want to do is just walk and play golf. It might sound corny, but I love it.
Me and my daughter take strolls in the morning, too. I always wanted to have something to do with my daughter. After school, we can just walk and talk about life. I want to be able to do something with my daughter that’s timeless, and that can be our thing.
How has diabetes affected the way you and your wife raise your daughter?
It’s very important! My wife is big on that, and she’s at the point where she wants to literally make everything that goes into my daughter’s body. That’s how deep it is in my house.
Being a young, athletic guy, you never think something like that can happen, but diabetes is hereditary, and it’s in my family. We can do things to try and avoid it by paying attention to what we put in our bodies. Going through that process in 2014 made me aware of the need to make sure that my kid understands that, yeah, something may look good, but is it really good for your body in the long term?
What’s a game-day meal routine for you?
For breakfast, I normally have oatmeal and something light, like a parfait. I’ve never been a really big breakfast person, so I always eat light in the morning. Lunch is a lot of baked foods, like baked chicken, fish, and braised short ribs. I don’t eat pork, and I try to cut out red meat. If I have it, it’s mostly lamb. I also stay away from bread as much as possible.
Dinner is similar, and it depends on what I ate for lunch and what I’m feeling like. I might have only a Caesar chicken salad. With anything I eat now, the most important thing is knowing how the food was made.
I’m certain that's very different than what you were eating before the diagnosis. What were some favorites?
It was basically the opposite. You had your filets, rib-eyes, fried chicken, fried pork chops, neck bones, butter beans, collard greens, yams, macaroni and cheese, shrimp scampi…I can keep going if you like. Me and my wife travel a lot, and we don’t discriminate against any food. We love everything! I could go on for days.
Source: GQ | Christopher Casen | November 8, 2017