Creating Healthy Eating Habits For Your Student-Athlete

Today I want to focus on how to create healthy eating habits and high-value nutrition for your student-athlete. When they get down the road, they won’t struggle to find something to eat because they will be used to eating a variety of healthy foods.

Experimentation

Help them experiment with healthy nutritional food, and by the time they are out ordering on their own or cooking for themselves, they will have a really good grasp on what it means to maintain high-value nutrition and healthy eating habits.

The Importance of High-Value Nutrition

I have been quite absent over the last few weeks, and many of you may be aware that my son was involved in a terrible car accident, which has, in turn, led me to this week’s topic because we are finding out now more than ever, just how important a good high-value nutritional diet is.

Number one, it helps avoid illness and injury, and number two, it aids in the recovery and repair after an illness and injury. My son has multiple breaks and fractures, and a lot of rehabilitation time in front of him. Nutrition is going to play a massive part in his rehabilitating to the best he possibly can. First, healthy eating habits start at home, we all know this, but do we actually practice this?

Do You Practice Healthy Eating Habits?

Do you avoid fast food? Those high fat, high sodium foods that don’t do us any favours, nor do they help our athletes growth and development. With our young student-athletes, it’s very important we try to pre-prepare and use meal planning.

Pre-Prepare As A Family

Cook what you can ahead of time. It’s all about saving time down the track. You can do this together as a family, it will help your athlete adjust to a nutritional diet when you’re all doing it together. It’s really hard to make changes when you’re the only one doing it in a household. So if you can do it together as a family would be a really good idea.

Don’t Get Stuck On The Same Foods

You can slowly start to introduce good healthy eating habits. Don’t stick on eating the same foods over and over. This is the worst thing to do. You need to introduce variety. If you don’t introduce variety, they won’t be able to order out down the track because one night they will be out for dinner and there will be nothing on the menu they will eat because they are too picky. Please make sure you’re introducing as much variety as you can. When they are grown and ready to go to college and don’t have you holding their hand anymore, they will still be able to maintain a high-value nutritional diet.

Vitamins & Minerals

If they are playing college sports they will likely have a sports program meal plan. Your athlete will need to like the foods introduced to them as part of their meal plan. Our young teenage athletes are still developing, still growing, and are a lot more active than most teenagers their age. Their diet needs to consist of a majority of fruit and vegetables because that’s where they will get most of their vitamins and minerals without using supplements.

Protein & Carbohydrates

Your athlete’s diet also needs to include high protein and carbohydrates. Now, when I say high protein, that doesn’t mean they should be eating truckloads of meat. They should be eating lean meat, fish, or poultry, and watch portions. They do need to have high-protein and high carbohydrates because it fuels their muscles and brains. I am not a certified nutritionist, and if you do need any professional advice when it comes to your athlete’s nutrition, please see a professional. I’m not a nutritionist, but I do have many children and I’ve done much research. I do think you need to know the basics and have a way to explain it to your athlete so they understand HOW they need to do things and WHY they need to do it.

Hydaration

Don’t forget, hydration is just as important as nutrition. They have to keep hydrated at all times and drink plenty of water. They should try to avoid really high sugary drinks as much as possible.

Evening Before Exercise

Before exercise, your athlete should be eating mostly vegetables, grains, and some protein. They should have an evening snack that is high in carbohydrates the evening before the competition.

The morning of the competition, they want to be eating mostly carbohydrates with some protein, not too much, but some protein. It’s also important that meals the morning of exercise should be low in fat and moderate in fibre. They don’t want to upset their bellies the morning of exercise. I know firsthand that it’s very uncomfortable. Trying to exercise when you have tummy problems can be a real challenge. If your athlete can avoid high fat and high fibre foods in the morning, they won’t have trouble throughout the day.

During Recovery

During recovery, rehydration is the most important thing. It’s okay to have sports drinks, however, not energy drinks because they are full of sugar. They can have sports drinks, but I only suggest them during exercise when they really need to replace electrolytes quickly. Water, any other time is fine, or a low sugar juice if they need some kind of flavour in there. And again, in recovery, you want carbohydrate food, within the first hour of finishing exercise.

Rapid Artificial Sugar Boosts

Sugar only gives your athlete a rapid energy boost; then they can crash very quickly before they even finish that important race. You don’t want those artificial sugars giving your athlete a quick burst. They need to maintain and replace electrolytes, they will give them the energy that will last. Also, have healthy snacks throughout the day. They are going to keep your athlete’s energy high throughout the entire day, as opposed to just that quick fix.

Creating Healthy Eating Habits Is A Process

The thing you want to remember is this, you don’t start preparing good nutrition for a competition the day before. You don’t start preparing your body, nutrition-wise, the day before a competition. It’s a process. You have to create those healthy eating habits early. When your athlete has a competition coming up, they can make adjustments so they have a good energy source throughout the tournament. It will also help them in recovering and refuelling afterwards. So it is a process. It doesn’t just start the day before a competition, and it’s really important your athlete understands that.

Don’t Let Travel Ruin Healthy Eating Habits

One thing your athlete should avoid is the foods that are high in fat and high in sodium. If you are travelling, it’s so easy to pull over and grab something quick. It’s very easy to grab something from the food vans at tournaments. You must try and avoid it. The way to do that is by pre-preparing meals, take plenty of fruit and vegetables, along with seeds and nuts. Do anything you need to that will help you avoid fast food and fatty foods. They are the worst thing your athlete can put into their bodies, especially while competing. Even if you’re travelling and it’s for a holiday, you really need to make sure that you’re still keeping up the healthy eating habits.

What About Treats?

When you’re treating your athlete to something nice, make sure you know what’s in it. Vegetarians need to find something that is a healthy meat alternative. That can be soybeans and lentils etc. You need to find the right amount of healthy meat alternatives that will replace that amount of protein they need. If your athlete is no dairy, you need to make sure they are receiving calcium and vitamin D. You should be paying special attention to those. Indulging foods that are meant as a treat can be made at home. There are advantages to making them at home. First, you know exactly what’s going into them. Second, you can control the portion sizes. And third, you can use substitutes if there’s something your athlete can’t have or doesn’t like. Doing this will allow you to know what your athlete is getting is still good for their bodies.

And if they are no animal products whatsoever, they should be concentrating on their vitamin B12 levels. If your athlete is a vegetarian, no dairy, and no meat products, It is vital that you are finding those good alternatives and they get the right amount. You may need to monitor them from time to time. I don’t have vegetarians. However, I didn’t eat much meat when I was an athlete. I drove my parents nuts with it because my coach was very big on high-value, nutritional intake. We had to find items that were the right amount of alternative to replacing what I wasn’t eating. If your athlete is a vegetarian, no dairy, no meat product, please make sure you are seeking professional advice and find the right amounts they need to replace what an elite athlete should be consuming.

Wash Fresh Produce

Don’t forget, you should wash all fresh produce. You don’t know what’s in fresh produce. Washing them can help you avoid germs and bacteria.

More Calories Than The A Normal Teenager

An athlete generally needs extra calories to fuel performance and growth. They help them meet their energy needs. They need more calories than a normal teenager would need. If our teen athletes don’t eat enough, their bodies are less likely to achieve maximum growth and development. It can also result in having problems down the track with muscle and bone tissue growth. I had Osgoodslaters disease, and my diet wasn’t the greatest, so healing took much longer. It all starts to make sense when you’re an adult, but you don’t really listen when you’re a teenager.

How Can You Get It Across To A Teenager

We need to get this across to them so they listen, learn, and plan. We must find ways that are going to give them everything they need, that they will also like. To do this, you need to go through the food groups and find what needs to be replaced so they are still consuming extra calories. The extra calories will also help your athlete maintain weight. They will also help your athlete be as fast and strong as they can possibly be. Not eating enough calories will lead to growth problems and health risks, including the risk of fracture and injury. You must stress to your athlete. If they are not getting the right amount of vitamins, minerals, calories, protein, carbohydrates, and hydration, they will have bone and growth problems.

Discuss All Possible Outcomes

If you can stress to your athlete what the outcome of not maintaining a healthy diet will be, they may begin to realise just how important it is. Fractures and muscle tears have really long turnaround times, and injury and illness can jeopardise a scholarship. Knowing this might entice them to listen to you a little more. If they know what the possible outcomes can be, and you show them they can still eat foods they like to eat, you will have healthy teenagers with great eating habits.

Don’t Force Them To Eat What They Don’t Like

We don’t want to make them eat anything they don’t want to eat because they’re not going to eat it. They’re going to dislike us if we force the subject. Try to help them see that what they are eating can be substituted with other ingredients and still taste good. You just have to experiment. That’s why we start doing this now. to promote and help create those healthy-eating habits before they get older.

No Diets Without Professional Advice

Do not ever let your athlete diet, please, without the advice of a professional. Dieting is a no-no. You must encourage your athlete to talk to a professional before they ever think about diets. It is very dangerous if they are cutting things out that shouldn’t be cut out, or they are consuming more than they should be. Please consult a professional. If your athlete ever tells you they want to diet, or if they are in a sport where weight is an issue, make sure you are talking with a professional about it. 

Carbohydrates Are Not The Only Thing

Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel, we all know this, but you need to make sure your athlete is still receiving the vitamins and minerals, and protein and fat to keep at peak shape. They need vitamins, minerals, energy, protein, and fat, healthy fats. Calcium will promote strong bone growth, and iron carries oxygen to the muscles. your athlete needs calcium and iron in their diet also. Iron you can find in lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and green leafy vegetables. Calcium will be found in dairy foods, low-fat milk, yogurts, and cheese. Try to stay away from the high-fat content in dairy products.  Lower the fat content and increase calcium intake. Access to these will give your athlete access to energy. It will help them avoid illness. And if illness or injury do occur, they will recover quickly instead of being down and out for months at a time, because their bodies just don’t know how to fight off disease.

Wrapping Up

In wrapping up, please make sure there is plenty of fruit and vegetables in your athlete’s diet first and foremost because they are the most important part of your teen athletes growth and development. Too much protein can cause dehydration. It can also cause calcium loss and affect kidney function. That’s why your athlete should focus on low fat, and eat protein without all the fat through it. Try to stick with low-fat meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and all of those things that you can get good sources of protein from. Peanut butter is another really good one.

Don’t forget, we have our brand new Masterclass kicking off on the16th of November. We’re going to kick that off from session one again. So that’s the 16th of November, 2020 at 8:00 AM AustralianEastern standard. We will be building your athletes 4-year academic and sports plan, LIVE, over 5 days. We will have many bonuses and surprises along the way so you don’t want to miss it. You can register today here. In the lead-up to the masterclass, I am offering FREE 15-minute connect calls for those who would like more information or would like to just say G’day. You can book a call here today. I can’t wait to connect:)

What do you find the most challenging part of securing sports scholarships and maximising opportunity from year 9 for your athlete?

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