There are so many nutrition messages out there; it is a never-ending battle to decipher all the information.  It’s my job and my passion, and I still find it overwhelming.  How is the average person just trying to feed themselves and their family to know what to do?

Then throw in a few extra factors, like kid’s sports, and it feels like a whole new topic!  It’s not a whole new topic though.  Some of the same principles apply, just with a bit of tweaking and reinforcing.

Almost every subject requires the return to the basics, and this is no exception!

1.  Always eat a well rounded breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

2.  Drink plenty of water everyday.

3. Include ALL food groups

For a little more detailed information, I have included two information sheets here (one for the Student Athlete, and one for the Grown-Up with more details).

I recently used these with my daughters Junior High Volleyball team…

As I was preparing to speak with them I kept finding myself re-writing everything multiple times in an effort to make sure that I portrayed a very all-encompassing and NON-legalistic view of eating.

While it is so important and integral for athletic performance that all the body systems get the proper fuel they need, it is also vital that the messages we send our children are accurate and reflect the reality of their lives.  Cookies, chips, candy, etcetera, are tasty and loved by many, and definitely have a place in our diets.

I find that when food messages become overly health conscious and heavily restricting/eliminating of all the ‘fun’ stuff, then the positive aspects of eating a healthy diet can get lost.  It becomes a battle between eating healthy OR junk food, instead of a balanced consumption of it all.  And kids will do exactly as anyone else when they feel deprived, and that is to over-indulge whenever the junk food opportunity presents itself because they are not sure when they will be ‘allowed’ to have it again.

This just happened to me and illustrates a very common confusion!

The first sign up sheet just came out for the volleyball tournament ‘food table’.  This is a table with all the food that the girls will eat all day long, including their breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because they are there in the school gym from 7:30am until 8:00pm (that is another topic entirely).

Anyway, with all the best intentions, and previous year’s coaches food suggestions, the entire sign up sheet consisted of protein and fat with the exception of a couple fruit trays and some tortilla chips.  Since I just signed up to be one of two parents ‘in charge’ of this table, I thought I better do some investigating.

I emailed the other moms, and they were open to any suggestions, but wondered what the suggestions would be since they had this set up as high protein, high fat, and low carb as they had been instructed in years past.  The old coach wanted them to keep the ‘sugar’ low to keep blood sugar levels stable.  This is such a common source of confusion!  And, it’s no wonder with the inundation of so much information, all the time!

This was my quick reply, and then I had a great phone conversation where we added some more foods to the current set-up:

Thank you! People get confused with carbohydrates, but they are necessary before and after play for fuel. We want to choose mostly carbohydrates that have nutritional value, and combine them with protein and fat. So, bagels with cream cheese and oatmeal with nuts are going to be well rounded complex carb fuel with some protein versus a soda and a candy bar which will provide only sugar calories with no nutrients. So there is a difference between limiting empty calorie sugar, and the ‘sugar’ that is the base unit of all carbohydrates. We want to add the carbs that are also nutritious.  Pure sugar will boost energy quickly though when low (like for endurance sports like long distance running), and is necessary in those cases.

Too much protein and fat before activity can actually cause stomach cramping because it slows the rate that our stomach empties, and without proper amounts of carbs it is easy to “hit the wall” (muscles feel weak and can’t make them work) or “bonk” (brain glycogen depleted making athlete confused, dizzy, weak, irritable, slow decision making).

 I would like to add a few healthy carb choices to the meals and snacks (here are some suggestions):

mini bagels (the cinnamon/raisin and plain)

 tub of cream cheese and peanut butter and almond butter

 yogurts (we can keep in cooler with ice?)

 chocolate milk (perfect post exercise ratio of carbs to protein)

 Corn muffins and rice to have with the taco salad

 Bananas as an additional line item with the fruit tray

 Regular wheat bread instead of the “thin or light bread” that’s listed

 Couple boxes of granola bars (Nature Valley and a chewy bar type)

I decided to share this today, because it is all the small daily stuff and daily routines where information is passed along.  Whether it be reliable or not quite right, it starts to permeate our cultures.  I come across different scenarios everyday, and I wish there were more outlets for people to find reliable information.  We are a word of mouth society, and we learn through one another, and pass along information that we think is good.

I hope this gets passed along!