What's in your basket? - Frankie Dettori

'What I would like to eat and what I can eat are two very different things. My dream would be to wake up and have a huge English breakfast, followed by some of the white truffle ravioli from my range and then my godmother's homemade Melanzane Parmigiano, a cheesey aubergine dish. Melanzane sits like a brick in my stomach, but this is a feeling I can't experience because I have to stay under my natural weight. I'm 5ft 4in and my natural weight is not more than nine stone but I have to be 8st 7lb to ride and win.

There are lots of jockeys who have eating disorders. We weigh ourselves about 20 times a day and we know if we've gained or lost a pound just by looking at how loose our wristwatches are. I've never got used to not eating and it is certainly the hardest part of my job. I rarely get the chance to indulge. Yesterday I had a day off and I went to a Chinese restaurant. I put on a few pounds, so now I'll do some extra walking and running. I'll also use my sauna, which is not a pleasure when you have to sit in there for an hour.

I don't eat in the day. I might grab half a Mars bar and have a few lemony teas (without milk). Perhaps I might pick on a chicken leg, but then that will be it until dinner. I know you are meant to eat a good meal in the mornings, but if you ride on a full stomach you throw up.

I'm the cook in the house. My four kids are often in bed when I get home. I enjoy cooking and I'll usually do Dover sole fillets pan-fried in olive oil with a little bit of white wine, salt and pepper or baked sea bass with mint and parsley. I like plain, natural food and fish has fewer calories than meat. If I come home late I might eat some boiled rice with olive oil and lemon. I love going to the supermarket, and I love seeing my products in there (Dettori's Italian For Good Food). I could spend hours in there. Not eating gets harder as I get older. When I was young it was all about getting your leg over. You think, "forget the meal", and go out. Now I appreciate good food far more, but I have to content myself with stealing tiny spoonfuls of my children's chocolate ice cream - my favourite.'


Frankie will need at least some carbohydrate-rich food such as this in his diet, to help restore the fuel stores in his muscles after racing or training. From a nutritional perspective, brown rice is preferable to white; wholegrain starches release sugar more slowly and are more nutritious than their refined counterparts, and seem to afford relative protection from conditions such as diabetes and cancer.


Lemons are particularly rich in vitamin C, higher intakes of which are associated with a reduced risk of killer conditions and a longer life.


Tea is rich in a goodly brew of plant chemicals including what are known as phenolic compounds, polyphenols and flavonols. These substances have been found to have the capacity to 'thin' the blood, and also quell damage in the body caused by disease-promoting molecules called free radicals. Several studies suggest that such effects help to protect against heart disease, with one piece of research finding that drinking two or more cups of tea each day was associated with a 43 per cent reduced risk of having a heart attack. Moderate tea-drinking may help keep Frankie's health from going to pot.

Olive oil

Studies show that diets rich in monounsaturated fat (olive oil's principle component) can be as effective for weight loss as traditional low-fat diets. A spin-off benefit of eating plenty of monounsaturated fat is that it appears to lead to improvements in the levels of blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides that would be expected to help protect against conditions such as heart disease and stroke. For cooking and salad dressings, I reckon olive oil is a good bet.

Half a Mars bar

The intensely sugary nature of this sort of confectionery will tend to stimulate surges in the hormone insulin, which will do nothing to help Frankie make his weight (see chicken). A better fast food for Frankie would be fruit, which will tend to give a more restrained release of sugar into the bloodstream and is also chock-full of a range of health-giving nutrients.

Dover Sole

A high-protein food that can only help assure Frankie's low weight aspirations (see chicken). However, from a health perspective, Frankie may be better off eating more fish rich in the omega-3 fats (such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardine), linked with a reduced risk of an array of ailments including heart disease, dementia and some cancers.

Chicken leg

One of the principle causes of weight gain in the body is the secretion of the hormone insulin, which stimulates the production of fat in the body and at the same time puts a brake on the body's fat-burning potential. High-protein foods such as this tend to stimulate minimal secretion of insulin, and may make Frankie's efforts to maintain his weight an easier ride.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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