As the number one-ranked tennis player, Novak Djokovic has drawn attention for his eccentric diet. Offering a new twist to the gluten-free diet trend, his food plan also requires giving up dairy, caffeine and refined sugars (honey is encouraged). He's even documented his diet in a best-selling book "Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence."
Although readers like it (it's earned a five star rating on Amazon, the highest level), his fellow players are not so impressed. Five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer joked to the Wall Street Journal, "Oh no, I eat extra gluten." No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal said he thinks it's just a fad, while the best comment came from Caroline Wozniacki, who said that she wouldn't even consider it for her beloved Pomeranian Bruno. "My dog is only having one life," she said, "and I want him to enjoy it." However, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Novak attempted to explain his diet's merits while confessing his chocolate addiction.
Novak appears to feel that he benefits by giving up foods to which he was addicted. "Toughest for me was definitely chocolate. My father is addicted to chocolate in a way. Was. Not anymore. He gave it up, too. We used to have at home a lot of sweets, as I think everyone on this planet loves sweets," he explained.
And Novak didn't go cold turkey. "I had to, you know, have to decrease that and then kind of give it up. Especially during the events I don't have—I don't have milk chocolate. If you have chocolate I have cacao or dark chocolate, a very a little bit. That was tough for me at the beginning." (Note: His mention of cacao refers to cacao nibs, which some health experts such as Dr. Mehmet Oz do suggest as a healthier substitute for chocolate. You can find them in health food stores or online, such as Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs and Alive and Aware Certified Organic Raw Cacao Nibs.)
Novak admits that he did crave sugar initially. "First few months, you know, I felt that need for sugar instantly after the meal, if you know what I mean. I would just take teas now and kind of try to satisfy my needs. But it wasn't as easy." What helped, however, was honey. He recommends two daily spoonfuls of manuka honey, noting, "Honey is quite sweet, no?" Well, yes. And when it comes to his brand, also quite expensive. We found it online, and Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey costs $39.99. Some manufacturers are claiming that it has extra health benefits, such as the Synergy Company, which calls it Healing Honey - Active Manuka and charges about $25. And then there's New Zealand Manuka Honey, which terms it "nature's perfect food." Will Novak's honey happiness make it the Next Big Thing? Post your comments below.