I noticed a long time ago how well I eat affects how long
I can skate for and how fast I recover.
– Enzo Cautela
an interview with Enzo Cautela and his mum.
24 March 2019 / interview: Matt Beare
A lot of professional athletes have full blown support teams that travel around the world with them - nutritionists, personal trainers, physiotherapists, etc. - that dictate exactly how they train and what they put in their face. Who knows if skateboarding will ever go down that route, but luckily for Enzo Cautela, he’s got his own personal nutritionist built into his family – his mum, Tori, and this interview is with both of them; a pro and his mum!
Tori is probably the only nutritionist in the world that's ever been employed to work directly with skateboarders. She's likely anaylsed first hand the diets of more skaters than anyone else on the planet and the results aren't the best: she says that in general skaters have some of the worst diets she's seen. But come on, don't let that get you down, it's hardly surprising, and anyway there's hope! In this one Tori releases a ton of wisdom and knowledge on how to eat good, how it can help your skating and how you feel, along with some of the main obstacles that can stop us from eating well, and just watching Enzo skate is proof that she knows what she's on about. Enzo also talks about how nutrition contributed to him turning pro along with what he eats to stay energised on a long session, and much more!
Enzo: So Enzo, what’s it like having a nutritionist for a mum? Do you feel all the excessive nagging to finish your greens has been worth it?
Well, I’ve always just eaten healthy since I was a baby pretty much, so it’s never been a chore, just business as normal.
Tori: And Tori, what’s it like having a professional skateboarder for a son? I’m not a mother, yet, but I can imagine watching your son jumping down 18 stairs might generate a bit of “squirm factor”?
I’m super proud of Enzo! Honestly, I believe he is more careful than I ever was growing up! I was a bit of “Daredevil” as a kid, and often times it crossed over to being too reckless and I ended up hurt a lot. I think Enzo has always been really good at assessing the risk vs. the rewards when it comes to his skateboarding. Plus, I consistently knock on all wood products to make sure he is safe (hahaha)... I don’t mind the stair sets so much really, it’s the rails that I can’t watch anyone skate! Way to gnarly!
Tori: So Tori you’re a nutritionist, what got you interested in nutrition and influenced you to make a career out of it?
In addition to being Enzo’s mom, I spent most of my 20’s & 30’s as a professional chef and restaurateur in some of the best restaurants in the world. I realized that I wanted a better life not coming home physically and mentally exhausted every night, along with a huge list of other reasons is why I decided to switch careers.
Then, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and came close to dying due to the steroids I was put on. It turned my world upside down, to say the least. It became important to not only change my career direction but to solve the health puzzle I found myself in.
That’s where nutrition came in and was key to my healing. I already knew about preparing food to the millionth degree, but now I desired to understand what food did on the molecular level and how to heal ourselves from it and maximize our bodies potential. I guess, I influenced myself, but it just seemed like the next logical step for me.
Tori: You work at the California Training Facility skatepark (CA-TF), and you’re probably the first nutritionist that’s ever been employed to work solely with skateboarders. How did that come about and what kind of stuff are you doing over there?
I know! It’s the best job in the world! I get to help really cool young people become healthier, lead more productive and capable lives because of it. Skateboarding is in the Olympics now, like it or not. If athletes are going to do well in competition, they HAVE to look at their nutrition. Even if you're not in the Olympics, wouldn’t you want to be awesome at life AND skateboarding?! Nutrition is what fuels our movements and keeps our bodies working at top capacity or it can deplete us and cause havoc on all of our systems.
I’ve known Jeff Jewett for many years through the skateboarding world and a few years back he was one of my nutrition clients. He called me one day and told me about the Ca-TF opening and that he needed a nutritionist to help the skaters. He thought of me and I couldn't think of a more perfect job!
So far, I’ve worked with a handful of skateboarders, both pro and am that have had everything from trying to gain weight, lose weight, deal with health issues, and others wanting to dial in their diet for maximum performance.
Tori: Based on your experience working with skaters, how’s the average skater diet, and what kind of response do you get from the skaters talking about nutrition?
Honestly, I think skaters, in general, have had some of the worst diets I’ve seen. Plus we live in a society (at least in America) where convenience and cost are usually prioritized rather than what the food actually is or does for you. On the flip side, I've found skaters are also very determined when they set their minds to it.
Also, most skaters tend to be in great physical shape, so they don’t see a point in changing anything. They’ll be the ones seeing me in their 30’s and 40’s though when they begin to show signs of the bad nutrition they’ve chosen (weight gain and health issues)! So that’s cool and all, but I’d rather see them now so they don’t run into those problems later. It isn’t as hard as one might think to eat healthy nor does healthy food mean it has to suck.
Tori: What do you think are some of the biggest obstacles to skaters improving their diet?
That's easy to answer, education and desire are the biggest obstacles. It’s easier to not try and instead wait until you have to make changes. If everyone was knowledgeable about what happens to their bodies when they eat poorly, they might see the significance of learning and making nutrition at the top of their priorities rather than just filling their hungry bellies with anything. Just because you don’t have any health “problems”, doesn’t mean you should eat anything you want. It’s just not a healthy philosophy to living your life.
Tori: Does Enzo eat well?
Enzo moved from Las Vegas out to California when he was 17. I think he still does! I hope he’s listened to me. He likes to cook now and that is definitely a helpful piece of the puzzle.
Enzo: Is eating healthy something that’s important to you, Enzo?
Totally, I noticed a long time ago how well I eat affects how long I can skate for and how fast I recover, so I pretty much think of food as medicine, I guess.
Enzo: Oh and by the way, congrats on turning pro for Enjoi! How did it feel when Louie ambushed you with your pro model?
Haha thank you! I mean it was amazing! I think it’s anyone’s dream to be pro for their favorite company, but just the way it all happened was too crazy!! I still think about it, like damn that actually happened! Haha.
Enzo: Do you feel like the way that you eat has improved your skating and contributed at all to your journey to pro-hood?
For sure! If you skate your hardest all the time you can kinda see where your limit is at. So when you go into a skate sesh well prepared, you feel the results.
Tori: When Enzo turned pro did a part of you think “that’s ‘cause I made him eat his broccoli”?
Sure, I’ll take credit for broccoli contributing to amazing skateboarding. I’m envisioning some sort of weird skateboarding vs. broccoli commercial promoting it… Nah! But seriously, one can’t push themselves to the edges of greatness, if they don’t feel good and lack the energy and focus to do it. Fuel is important, but the right fuels are essential to performance both mentally and physically in everything we do as humans.
Enzo: What do you eat if you’re out skating all day? Do you take food with you?
The nearest Whole Foods is always the go to but I’ll bring stuff like nuts, bananas or other fruit. Coconut water is a big one to always have when I’m out skating.
Enzo: Does Tori ever make you a packed lunch? I’d definitely get my mum to do that if she was a nutritionist, and I’d play the whole “ah I would do it myself it’s just you know how to do it so much better mum”, card.
Hahah yea back when I lived at home, I was balling out with sick homemade meals all day but now it’s more like a treat when I come out to visit.
Tori: What kinds of foods should skaters take out with them if they’re planning on skating all day?
Always bring a gallon of water. Bring some electrolytes (if you plan to sweat a lot) and plenty of snacks. I recommend bringing a small cooler with you filled with sandwiches made of cashew butter and banana slices on whole grain or whole wheat bread. I like to add (baked in olive oil) potato chips for the crunch and salt! Mixed nuts, hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, dried cherries, dark chocolate, yogurt (with low sugar), apples with nut butter, and homemade protein bars are all good choices. Look for a good combo of healthy carbs, protein, and fats.
Tori: What are some of the main foods that you think skaters are eating too much of and how would these foods negatively affect someone’s skating and health?
Foods high in sodium and sugar, unhealthy fats which include most fast foods (and most restaurant foods actually), soda’s of all kinds, fruit juices, processed ready to heat/eat meals, fried foods like potato chips/fries and most snacks that would be found in vending machines or snack bars.
The negative effects happen slowly over some time. The bad news is that the effects of habitually eating this way will more than likely contribute to poor focus/concentration, bad decisions, injuries, slow muscular and cellular repair, pain, and lack of energy...all leading to eventual dysfunction, illness, and disease... Not too mention, you’ll just feel crappy and not really know why, until it’s too late.
Tori: What are some foods skaters should be eating more of and how could these foods improve their skating and health?
Skaters should really concentrate on consuming healthy carbs, fats, and lean protein for muscle repair. Stay away from processed foods and try to eat whole foods as close to nature as you can. I like to think of carbs as either whole carbs or refined carbs.
Examples of whole carbs include vegetables, whole fruit, legumes, potatoes, and whole grains. These foods are generally healthy.
On the other hand, refined carbs include sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, pastries, white bread, white pasta, and others, which aren’t healthy for you.
Tori: What are some of the nutrition-related causes for someone feeling low energy when out skating?
Take a look at my answer three questions ago for snack ideas. All of those will help.
Tori: What are some of the most common nutrition myths you feel hold skaters and people in general back?
I'd say it's more about the stories people tell themselves rather than nutrition myths that hold people back. Things like:
- I don’t know how to cook.
- Cooking is too hard and I don’t have the time.
- Healthy foods are gross or taste bad.
- It's not important, I'm in good shape.
- I'll do it someday... if I ever have too.
There are solutions for almost everything and all of those statements above hold people back from change and growth. There are ways to do things if one really wants to. It's called priorities.
Enzo: Other than nutrition, is there anything else you do off your board to help your skating?
Definitely stretching before and after the skate sesh and just daily even when you're not skating is one of the most important things, I’ve found. Staying hydrated with good stuff, no soda or anything like that keeps your muscles feeling good.
Enzo: What’s next for you, Enzo? Are you working on any more video parts or any other projects at the moment?
I’m just trying to stay on the board as much as possible, getting out of San Diego when I can to skate some foreign obstacles is always great. But yeah, just trying to stack clips and just live life haha.
Enzo: This interview wouldn’t be complete without asking… How do you feel about hard flipping El Toro? Is it something you’re thinking about?
Ahhh I don’t wanna say I want to do it because then everyone’s gonna bug me, even more, haha, but I’ve scoped it out and I know I could skate it, but I don't know, maybe one day when I feel like I can get away with something down it, I'll give it a go, but that thing is no joke.
Tori: Tori, what are the best ways for people to get in touch with you?
I’m on Instagram @torinakano and also @eat_right_life. I also own a coffee company @companie.co - our skateboarder coffee is available now @pharmacy_boardshop - Palmdale and Victorville stores, we have one called Crooked Grind and also one called Early Grab. All skaters should get yo' moms and dads some good coffee!
Enzo & Tori: If you could both impart some final health-related wisdom on the skate world, what would you like to say?
Tori: Reduce processed refined carbs which are sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, pastries, white bread, white pasta, and others. Eat tons of different vegetables. Don’t follow fad diets, they don’t work. Instead, find balance and moderation in what you eat and also do in life. Find your Zen.
Enzo: I would just say, it’s never to late to start working on it. It starts off with something simple like kicking soda or cutting back on the Oreos haha. You just start to feel better a little at a time and go from there!