Eating out while eating healthy is one of the most important factors to staying energized for competition. When you add in the travel time, time changes, hotel stays and competition downtime, there are a large number of issues that could get in the way of eating a healthy meal.
No one works up an appetite quite like athletes, and being on the road means teams will be eating out at least a few times before they return home. It’s up to coaches and parents along for the trip to emphasize proper sports nutrition in these situations. Left to their own devices, many will mismanage the situation when eating out, and make poor choices on what foods they put into their bodies before and after competition.
One great line of defense against poor youth athlete nutrition is to coordinate between coaches and parents, so that all athletes bring, or are provided with healthy snacks to curb cravings while on the road. Proper hydration is even more important. Coaches and parents should make sure their athletes are always properly stocked with water to keep them hydrated throughout the day.
Eventually, individual athletes or teams will wind up at a restaurant. Parents and coaches must be vigilant in helping youth athletes make proper choices to ensure their bodies are properly fueled before competition. That means not eating out at a Chinese buffet or Taco Bell just because it’s convenient. Scout out restaurants in the surrounding area in advance and then give your athlete a choice on where he or she would like to eat.
If you are the coach, make sure you are paying attention to what your athletes are eating. Again, you should stay away from a buffet. If their meal choices are not up to your expectations, discuss their choices at the table before the wait staff arrives. This will diminish the potential for unhealthy options and ordering foods that will make your athlete slow or sluggish the next day.
Don’t forget that there is always room for flexibility! An ice cream cone or a chocolate shake at the end of a long competition or satisfying victory is a great way to show positive reinforcement. It also lets them know that their coaches and parents still remember that they are, after all, a growing athlete.
DREAM, one of the Midwest’s well-known youth mentoring organizations, provides life-changing and life-enriching experiences to at-risk youth through mentoring and after-school programs in Omaha, Nebraska, and Springfield, Missouri. Their proven approach puts children in a comfortable setting where they’re encouraged to discuss openly, learn, and grow as individuals. Are you interested in getting involved with DREAM? Contact us today.