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NFL offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is tackling a new challenge: he’s partnered with Sodexo, a food service company that runs school cafeterias, to promote healthier eating habits for children. 

“It’s not only a matter of feeding them better, but also empowering them with the knowledge so they can make better decisions,” the Kansas City Chiefs player told Matt Galloway on The Current

He will be part of two programs with Sodexo that aim to promote healthier habits. One program is targeted at children from Kindergarten to Grade 12, teaching students and their parents about the importance of eating healthy and how to do it. 

The other program focuses on college and university students. During the NFL’s off-season, Duvernay-Tardif will visit schools across the country to tell them about how eating healthy helped him. 

He says when he was studying medicine at McGill University, he relied on eating right to make it through the day, both on the field and off it. 

Duvernay-Tardif says when he’s training, he needs to eat about 6,000 calories a day. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports)

“It’s hard to go through a two-and-a-half hour of practice and then go and study for another three hours and then wake up at six in the morning and go back to school and so on,” he said.

Duvernay-Tardif eats about 6,000 calories a day, and he strives to eat clean. He doesn’t use dietary supplements, such as protein powder, and makes a lot of meals for himself. 

“You got to make sure that you optimise your sleep and your nutrition, and people sometimes want to do that, but I feel like they don’t have the tools to do it.”

Focusing on health

Duvernay-Tardif has just started his season with the Kansas City Chiefs. But last year the player — who has a medical degree from McGill University and is working to become a doctor — put away the jersey and pads, and exchanged them for scrubs.

During the off-season he worked as an orderly at a long-term care facility in Montreal, not far from his hometown of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que.

Now that he’s back on the gridion, he wants people including sports fans to remember those still working to help people on the health-care front lines. 

“There’s still some people working so much and taking care of our elderly, the vulnerable population, and I think we still got to do everything we can to support them,” said Duvernay Tardif. 

Kansas City Chiefs lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who is working to fulfill his requirements to become a doctor, made waves in 2020 when he took a break from pro football to help fight COVID-19 in a Quebec long-term care facility. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

“Still wear your mask, still do everything you can because there are people that are still suffering from this pandemic.”

He’s even brought his medical experience to the football league, as part of the NFL Players Association COVID-19 task force.

Duvernay-Tardif said that once his professional football career winds down, he wants to work in public health.

“Being able to have the knowledge and the credibility to put in place programs that are going to have a concrete impact on thousands of people instead of meeting with patient one on one? I think for me, it’s going to be my way of having the greatest impact,” he said.

Written by Philip Drost. Produced by Susan McKenzie.