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How Rickson Gracie sticks to his diet

Most of us hear about athletes' extremely strict diets but seem unable to muster that same kind of discipline. We are, after all, human. 

Rickson Gracie, it turns out, is human too—a human who craves dense ice cream from time to time, in fact. In a recent interview, we asked him how he's been eating so healthy for so long. Here's his answer:

"It's funny, because, you know, my father always said, 'Health comes through your mouth, and age comes through your legs.' So, anytime he'd say that, he stood up and did some squats to show, 'Yeah! My legs are still strong.' 

"So, based on that, nutrition is not about feeling good, it's not about eating candy or ice cream, or good stuff for your taste. Nutrition's always been about, you know, health, you know, levels of nutrition and proteins, and vitamins, and... So, I learned to like things that are good for me, and I learned to hate things that are bad for me. 

"So, in my mind, you're talking about Häagen-Dazs. I'm not gonna say 'Wow! Häagen-Dazs.' I'm gonna say 'Yes, I love Häagen-Dazs, but I hate to have this in my freezer. Because, you know, every time it's there, it's appealing to eat, and if I eat, I feel bad about it, because it's just sugar and... and bad stuff. 

"So you're talking about a green juice with carrots, radish and other green leaves... It's not that tasty. If you give it to a child, they're gonna say 'Hmmrh, I hate that,' but if you eat... I get so much pleasure drinking juices like that, which I'm not sure if the taste's not good; but I try to educate myself to like, to crave for things that are good for me. 

"So, I love fruits, I love dried fruits, I love vegetables, I love protein, I love, you know, superfoods, from maca, to chia, to, you know, açaí. And whenever it's not too good, I eat it anyway; and if it's good, even better. 

"I'm very much particular with what I eat and the way I elaborate my food. I've been using a lot the air fryer. So I don't eat fried things anymore; but I love the taste of French fries, so I put my potatoes in the air fryer and eat; also fish and things... So I'm very particular about what I eat, but I force myself now, with pleasure, to eat things I'm supposed not to like. 

"So I don't even know what I don't like; I just make sure I know what I should not eat. Because sometimes you see junk—very pretty. Some hamburgers, some, you know, pork and things... Wow—the mouth full of water. But I feel like, 'Whoa. Not for me; I'm gonna pass on that; I prefer to go back to my fish and my vegetables.'"