Wednesday, August 26, 2015

5 School Lunches That Make the Grade

As athletes prepare backpacks and workout bags to go back to school, parents are preparing pantries and refrigerators for school lunches. I often hear complaints about not knowing what to pack each day to make sure athletes actually eat what is packed, but also properly fuel themselves in preparation for after-school or evening practices. Here are 5 school lunches that earn an "A" from this sports dietitian:

The Tried and True
Jam and nut butter on whole wheat bread
Fresh veggies such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes or mini sweet peppers (already prepared!)
Greek, non-fat yogurt (must be Greek!) - flavored okay
Piece of fresh fruit
Whole grain tortilla chips

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sports Nutritionist's Race Report: Naperville Sprint Triathlon

This past Sunday, I competed in the Naperville Sprint Triathlon. It was beautiful weather, and I was excited to compete in my final triathlon of the season (my "A" race). 

Saturday: The day before
All day Saturday, I was focused on eating well and hydrating well. The week prior, I was lacking in the sleep department (the reality of two kids under 3), so I knew I needed to take care of myself nutritionally to avoid arriving completely exhausted on race day. Pictured is my lunch and dinner - lots of whole grains, veggies, fruits and lean protein plus some healthy fat. These are the pillars of great meals in general - but especially when preparing to race the next day. 
Lunch: Homemade pizza on whole wheat crust, salad w/ vinagrette dressing, watermelon, water

Thursday, July 30, 2015

4 Fueling Strategies Athletes Should Try Now Before Going Back to School

I am enjoying seeing many young athletes in my office right now. The timing is perfect because we have 2-3 weeks to try out some fueling strategies before they need to be implemented into the fall school/practice schedule. Having time to try things out when young athletes are less scheduled allows them to better focus on what they would like to eat and what works with their schedule and also helps them game-plan how to transport and store their preferred foods. So, if you have a young athlete in the house that is going back to any level of school/practice this fall, work with them to hone and perfect these four fueling strategies.

Eating Breakfast
In my work with athletes, I see two basic problem patterns when it comes to breakfast: either the athlete doesn't eat it at all or the athlete eats something too small for their needs, such as a banana or one piece of toast. Breakfast is the most important meal because it sets the stage for the entire day in terms of both mental energy and muscle energy. Fortunately, I have two great blog articles about breakfast. Last's week's blog (5 Ways to Eat Breakfast Within 30 Minutes of Waking Up) outlines multiple breakfast options depending on your particle morning routine. The second blog article is especially for my athletes who have early-morning practices that make it difficult to eat. Check out "It's Too Early to Eat - Help!" if this applies to you or your athlete. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

5 ways to eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up

Too many athletes make one of the worst fueling mistakes: skipping breakfast. From lack of time to lack of hunger, there is no lack of excuses out there for why breakfast doesn't happen. However, eating breakfast really IS important. In fact, eating within 30 minutes of getting up is needed to get your body re-energized and re-hydrated after fasting and dehydrating overnight. You can't drive your car anywhere without gas, so don't ask your body to go anywhere without fuel! For those of you who don't know how to make breakfast happen, here are 5 ideas, depending on your morning style.

The pre-planner
From your lunch to your clothing, you set up everything needed before you go to bed the night before. Why not do the same with breakfast? Here are a couple of options:
-Overnight oats: A Pinterest favorite, first grab a mason jar or a good ole tupperware. Combine 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick or steel), 1/3 cup non-fat milk or soy milk, 1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup diced fresh fruit of choice, 1 tsp sweetener of choice (if desired) and any extras you like such as chia seeds, ground flaxseed, coconut flakes, etc. Mix, place lid on jar and leave in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, grab the container and a spoon and head on out!
-Breakfast at the table: Who says you can't set the table the night before? Here is an easy option: grab a bowl and fill with bran flakes, nut of choice and dried fruit of choice. Set on table. Grab a piece of fruit and set next to bowl. In the morning, all you have to do is add milk or Greek yogurt to your cereal and munch on!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Nursing Sports Nutritionist's Race Report: Twin Lakes Triathlon

This past Sunday, I competed in the Twin Lakes Triathlon, which I lovingly called a "sprintlympic" distance: 700m swim, 14 mile bike, 4.5 mile run. I considered this a training race since I had not competed in a triathlon since the exact same day 4 years earlier. Therefore, I needed a race to work out the kinks and see how my body would handle triathlons after having 2 babies (currently 2.5 y/o and 8 months). So here is what went down...

The Day Before
When counseling athletes, I tell them to stick to foods they know and tolerate the day before a race. Don't eat anything new or unknown. Unfortunately, I had to break that rule, as I had to be at a wedding the day before the race. However, I knew this going in as I chose to compete in the race after I had the wedding on the calendar. So, I ate and hydrated well leading up to the wedding dinner. The dinner itself wasn't too bad: chicken, mushroom cap, risotto, roasted potatoes, beans, salad and rolls (my husband and I got two different entrees and split them). Lots of water all day and especially during the wedding and reception. I got to bed around 10:45pm - not bad, all things considered.