In 2011 Venus Williams was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which inflammation progressively damages the moisture-producing glands of the body and symptoms range from dry mouth, skin and eyes to a chronic cough, numbness in the arms and legs, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pains, and thyroid problems. When talking about her illness Venus said ‘I couldn’t raise my arm over my head, the racket felt like concrete. I had no feelings in my hands. They were swollen and itchy I would go to the doctor and start crying. I couldn’t help it. The fatigue is hard to explain unless you have it. Some mornings I feel really sick, like when you don’t get a lot of sleep or you have a flu or cold. I always had some level of tiredness. and the more I tried to push through it, the tougher it got the fatigue can be so heavy that sitting in a chair is a huge effort” There’s said to be no known cure for this autoimmune disease and Venus’ tennis career almost came to a grinding halt. In 2011 she ended the year ranked 102 in the world. However she then drastically changed her diet and began following a vegan diet this is when everything started to change. By 2015 Venus was back up to 7th in the world and in 2017 at the age of 36 she reached the Australian open final. When asked about her plant based diet she said “I fell in love with the concept of fueling your body in the best way possible. Not only does it help me on the court, but I feel like I’m doing the right thing for me. It definitely changed my whole life. It changed the pace that I live at. It changed everything. I always tell people that you have to enjoy what you’re eating. If you’re eating a plant-based diet or a mixture of one, make sure you’re eating something you like. Find a restaurant, recipes, or join a community that way you can learn and enjoy your food. When you’re doing the right things, and you’re eating plants, and you’re eating live foods, it helps you in your life. I think you feel more energized and you feel more positive.” Here’s what Venus typically eats in a day For breakfast its normally a green juice, a protein smoothie, or some fruit. She says she does lot of juicing and wheat grass shots. Sometimes she may treat herself to some granola with almond milk. lunch is typically her biggest meal of the day where she eats lentils, quinoa, and a strawberry smoothie with protein powder or other days she’ll have sweet potatoes, green beans, cabbage, and soba noodles. Her go-to snacks are green juice and kale chips or dates and cashews. When she craves sweets she’ll have what she calls ‘orange creamsicle smoothie, made from almond milk, oranges, banana, vanilla and coconut oil or a pineapple, orange, and strawberry juice. Dinner is typically a large salad. On match days she will eat a large breakfast of fried rice then later on after her pre match warm-up she has sweet potatoes and rice. For energy on court she takes pre-mixed energy drinks made of organic coconut water and pineapple juice. Post-match Venus tends to refuel with lots of water with electrolyte powder and then more sweet potatoes, rice, and barbecue tofu. To find out more about how a plant based diet can help treat autoimmune diseases click on the link above to watch this video.