5 Tips for a High School Athletes’ Healthy Eating Plan

On a recent trip to the grocery store Karen found herself in the checkout line behind a woman who was buying more than $300.00 worth of groceries. What was most interesting about her purchases was the amount of “junk” food in her cart with items such as ice cream, Fritos, potato chips, frozen pizza, soda, etc. The cashier also remarked about so much junk food. The woman’s response was: “Well, I have a 14-year-old son who plays highly competitive sports and he eats all of this in a week”.

As Karen checked out, she remarked to the cashier: “If her son continues to eat all of that junk food, he won’t be playing competitive sports for long”.

This really hit home because at Team Cura, we are health and wellness enthusiasts that advocate for student athletes to establish positive habits at an early age, especially when it comes to nutrient habits.  Athletes need more and better (food) fuel to maximize their performance.  Are your habits as good as they can be?

The new year is approaching. Therefore, many people make their New Year’s resolutions.  Is better eating a resolution for you?  You may want to rethink a resolution.

According to the Forbes magazine article, This Year, Don’t Set New Year’s Resolutions: The statistics on how many people follow through and accomplish their New Year’s resolutions are rather grim. Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them. Don’t be part of that statistic. This year, set goals instead of resolutions.

Why goals?

Because goals are specific, whereas resolutions tend to be broad and vague. Goals are much more actionable, which is what makes them more effective.

So, if better food habits are a 2020 goal for you, a great way to start is to clearly identify what food and beverages you are actually consuming.  A food journal is a good way to learn this.  Here’s one we really like from Harvard Health.  Fitness trainers and nutritionists recommend keeping a food journal for a few weeks.  You may think you know what you are consuming.  But from personal experience, we know the journal will uncover many things you weren’t aware of.  Use the information to identify the food choices that aren’t fueling your body to reach peak performance.  Then set a goal for modification.  Don’t change everything overnight.  It’s a journey to develop good lifetime habits.  Celebrate the successes along the way, learn from the challenges, and keep moving forward, even in small increments.  You also don’t have to eliminate everything, rather go with moderation.

So, what are some other ways to begin?  We’re not nutritionists or dietitians.  However, we are voracious readers about healthy eating, getting the right balance of fruits, vegetables, protein, carbs, and healthy fats. There are many great resources for you to learn from with book, podcasts, blogs and newsletters.  For instance, a couple of our favorites include: “Genius Foods” by Max Lugavere, “Mind Massage” podcast (found on Spotify and iTunes), “MindBodyGreen” internet blog. These are great resources from various viewpoints in the health and wellness space.  Furthermore, educating yourself and making incremental changes is a life skill that will benefit you in your sport performance.

3 healthy food habits

In addition, here’s 3 things we’ve found to stay on track with healthy food habits.

  1. Rob does his shopping and meal planning every Sunday. It starts with a clear list of what nutrients he needs for the week to perform his best. Walking into the store with a list helps you stay on track and prevent straying from the items you came for. These nutrients include high proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. For specifics on what Rob eats, check out his Instagram page @rob_hughey.
  2. Every Sunday (hum, there is a pattern here) Karen makes a big salad with spinach and eight other vegetables. She also cuts extra vegetables, peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and puts them in containers. This makes it easy to put together a bag of veggies to replace that bag of chips that can be packed with your practice gear.
  3. Eat at regular intervals. Check out this article from Cleveland Clinic on how small, frequent meals can help athletes in several ways:
  • Keeps energy level high
  • Aids in muscle growth and repair
  • Good food fuel keeps athletes from getting sluggish and impairing performance in competition

Most importantly, for specific approaches and eating plans, seek advice from a nutritionist or personal trainer specializing in your sport.

In conclusion, we challenge you to create a manageable healthy eating goal for 2020 and stick to it!  Your coach just may notice your improved performance!

Share your healthy food habits and connect with us!