Youth sports have always been a big part of my family. They teach so many wonderful life lessons. Kids learn sportsmanship, the value of determination and hard work, respect for authority, and they develop an awareness of their bodies.
I love cheering for my children as they work hard to achieve the “next level”. The next level is different for all families. Does your child want to make the high school team? Do they want more playing time during the game? Are you raising a super star that is going on to college sports? Do you need to move your family so your child can train with a world-famous coach? Regardless of what the next level is for your child, they will benefit from dumping these 5 bad eating habits.
Good eating habits promote peak performance in youth athletes. The opposite is also true. Bad eating habits can compromise a young athlete’s performance and even worse……..affect their growth and development. Think about Olympic athletes. They certainly are careful about their diet. They don’t eat bags of chips, cookies, and donuts after every practice or competition. They work hard to be in peak physical condition and that includes what they put into their bodies. Young athletes are no different. Here are 5 bad habits you should help your young athlete to dump.
5 Eating Habits That Are Bad For Youth Athletes
1. Eating sweets and empty calories: Sweets can fit into a training diet once in a while, but maxing out nutrition with lots of nutrient dense foods is far better. Developing strength and repairing damage from long workouts is better served with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Ice cream and pretzels are fun and delicious, but have no nutritional value for your young athlete.
2. Skipping breakfast: A young athlete needs nutrients to grow and develop. Skipping breakfast short changes their chance of consuming adequate nutrition throughout the day. Metabolism starts when the first meal of the day is eaten. Eating a good breakfast gives your young athlete energy and focus to start the day. Skip breakfast on game day……..watch your athletes energy fade throughout the competition. They need energy to start the day.
3. Eating a light lunch: Lunch should consist of carbohydrates and protein to fuel your young athlete for after-school practice. Salads may seem like a healthy option, but make sure there are carbs and protein to go along with the salad. A sandwich made with whole grain bread is a great option.
4. Eating too much late in the day: Your young athlete needs nutrients for school and training so “pigging out” later at night is not a good idea. It is better that they develop the habit of eating adequate nutrition throughout the day. Eating late can cause unwanted weight gain and really mess with their morning appetite. You want your young athlete to be hungry in the morning so that they can start the day off right.
5. Not enough fluids: Does your young athlete complain of headaches, lack of energy, or hunger? It may be that they are actually dehydrated. It is important that they drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after practices. I’ve found that it is quite common for the kids to not drink very much during the school day. Pack a refillable water bottle and remind them to sip at it all day.
If you have an athlete that shows promise, you will want to make sure to dump these bad habits from their diet routine as soon as possible. Your young athlete will be healthier both on and off the field. They will certainly enjoy the added benefits that eating a diet rich in nutrition brings to their sports season. Hard work and good nutrition work hand in hand to maximize your young athlete’s experience. Keep reminding your young athlete that preparing for practice and competition is something that needs to be done all day with nutritious food and plenty of water.
Do you have a young athlete? What would you add to this list? Have you found good nutrition to help with your sports performance?
Since I always want you to be thinking about eating real food…………..If you are looking for help in making the transition to eating more real food, you should check out the Real Food Experience posts. You can get started at the beginning or jump around the challenges. You can find a complete round-up of the program here. Each week’s challenge is full of terrific advice to help you transition from fast and processed food to a real food diet. Changes that will help you to live a healthy lifestyle and have the energy to keep up with your busy schedule. I would also love for you to join me on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on a regular basis. Leave me a comment and let me know you are there. I love to visit with my readers.
You might also be interested in: the Juggling Sports Nutrition Page.