Food For Athletes & Kids’ Sports

August 28, 2021

As many of our young people head back to school, they may be looking for ways to perform better in whatever sport or activity they have signed up for. If an athlete’s nutrition does not support their energy needs, while practicing and conditioning, then they are not going to perform at their best during a game, a match, a meet or an event. In the past, for long-term energy and optimal athletic performance, loading up on carbohydrates or “carb loading” was recommended. But is this advice still the best way to go? Does research back up this recommendation? As dietitians, we want to focus our attention on the foods young people should eat to help them compete in whatever sport or activity they want to excel at, so tune in for ideas on what to eat, how much to eat, and ways to make it happen with busy schedules.

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CASSIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I'm not going to waste any time this morning, I'm going to start right off with some thoughts I have centered around today's topic. As our kids are heading back to school, many of them will be looking for ways to perform their best in whatever sport they've signed up for. We all know football practice has already started. We all know we've had some pretty hot, humid days this summer. So certainly staying hydrated is one critical piece for athletes to perform well, particularly during a hot humid summer. In fact, I would say that drinking plenty of water might actually be at the top of the list in my mind when I think about what do our kids need to be putting in their bodies to perform their best as, as athletes. But because we are dietitians and nutritionists here at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, and we say it time and again: food matters.

We'll be talking a lot today about eating plans. What is the best eating plan for a young football player? Or what if your son or daughter is playing tennis? What should he or she eat to have agility and endurance as well as focus and concentration when they're on the court? What should a student who's in track eat for speed? Is the diet for a student training to be a shot putter the same as the diet of a hockey player? Here's an even better question. What did Sunni Lee, the women's gymnastics all around gold medal winner eat for her per peak performance? Good question, right? You know, back when I was a teenager playing high school basketball and keep in mind, we're going back a few decades now, but back then, I don't remember anybody really addressing sports nutrition, but today in this very competitive world of sports, I think it's a topic that deserves a lot of attention.

TERESA: Yeah, I think so. And so if you haven't realized it already, our topic for today is food for athletes and kids’ sports. And you know, really we were talking about this Cassie, this, you know, if you don't have kids in sports, this also could be applicable for you, you know, as a weekend warrior or a person that goes to the gym or, or anybody else is physically active. But Cassie, you know, in what you said about nutrition and sports nutrition being a hot topic, I agree with you. I think many parents are looking for ways to help their kids have an edge in whatever sport, excuse me, that they want to participate in. You know, in a recent Dishing Up Nutrition episode, I brought up Tom Brady. And if you don't know who Tom Brady is, he is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play. And he understands that it's important to have optimal food for optimal performance. Tom Brady eats an anti-inflammatory diet. So even at the age of 44, his body continues to hold up game after game.

CASSIE: That's geriatric in the football world.

TERESA: You know, and his body, it continues to, you know, just work well and perform well. And I would say that also as the quarterback his brain as well, it has to be at peak performance levels. To do this, he avoids sugar. He avoids gluten and refined, damaged fats. But what he does really focus on as far as the food plan that he eats is lean meats, lots of vegetables, nuts, and other types of natural fats. He maintains his muscles, his strength, his mental, and his physical agility and endurance with this carefully chosen diet and lifestyle. And, you know, since he's won seven Super Bowl championships, I think he might be on to something. Don't you Cassie?

CASSIE: Absolutely. You can bet. I mean, this is not some fad that Tom Brady is following. He's paying people good money; smart people.

TERESA: Right.

CASSIE: I'm sure he has a registered dietitian. He has a personal trainer. These people that he's paying are looking at the research and they've put together this diet that works. So yeah, he's onto something. And just want to repeat. Teresa mentioned our topic today is food for athletes and kids in sports. So today we're going to be focusing as registered dietitians, focusing our attention on the foods that young people should eat to help them compete at their best in whatever sport or whatever activity they want to excel at. Maybe it's not sports per se. Maybe it's theater. Maybe it's dance. And if you haven't recognized my voice by now, I'm Cassie Weness. I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. I'm also the mother of two teenagers who love to participate in sports. They are both very competitive.

TERESA: And I'm Teresa Wagner, also a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. And I'm a mother of three budding athletes maybe, and an avid runner myself. So sports nutrition has been just a personal interest of mine for quite some time.

CASSIE: So all of you listening are really in for a fantastic show today. We have a very timely topic and not only are Teresa and I sort of in the midst of what we'll be discussing today because of the age of our kids, but we're also passionate about sports nutrition. We're passionate about feeding athletes as well as our own bodies well. So all that said, let's take a minute and just look at where we've been and then talk about where we should be going. So years past for long-term energy, for your best athletic performance, especially if you were performing in an endurance sport, loading up on carbohydrates was often recommended, right? We always heard that term ‘carb loading’. I even remember in high school, even though, like I said, we, I, I don't remember sports nutrition really being a topic, but I do remember one night, the basketball coach that year had all of us girls over for a spaghetti feed before a big game.

TERESA: Oh yeah. We did that too.

CASSIE: There was barely any meat in that sauce, but we ate a lot of noodles. So yeah, I mean, carb loading used to be really popular, especially for marathon runners. You know, it used to be all the rage for those marathon runners to eat a lot of pasta and bagels and bread.

TERESA: Yeah. And I have to say as a former marathon runner, hopefully again someday, but as a former, getting the runners trots is, is a real thing.

CASSIE: I’ve never heard of that, but I've never run a marathon.

TERESA: What it is is when you exercise for a long time or run for a long time, there can be some GI distress that is basically an emergency bathroom run.

CASSIE: And if you had loaded up on all those carbs the night before I bet your body's ridding itself of it then, right?

TERESA: And prior to that, that long run that you usually do, you know, on the weekend. And so, yeah. And it's typically, that typically happens on those longer runs.

CASSIE: How horrible.

TERESA: It is a real thing. And I don't know how much people connect the fact that it quite possibly could have been related to your carb loading.

CASSIE: It's well, there's got to be a connection to the food and what's coming out the other end.

TERESA: Yeah. 

What should athletes eat for optimal performance?


CASSIE: So, so again, used to be all the rage, but, you know, we're not hearing about it as much anymore. And I think part of it is a biochemist by the name of Dr. Barry Sears a few years back. And I know some of you know, that name, Dr. Barry Sears. We've talked about him before on the show. He started to question whether or not this high carb eating was really the best plan for athletes. And he actually started working with elite athletes on the Stanford swim team. And he changed up their diet to see if he could improve their performance. So instead of carb loading, he switched these Stanford swimmers to a more balanced diet. And if you want the particulars on this, he did 40% carbohydrates instead of the, you know, 70% plus that you would do if you were carbo-loading. He pulled that back to just 40% calories from carbs, 30% calories from protein and 30% calories from fat. And what he found is these swimmers were able to swim faster. And so they won more races simply by switching from that high, high carb to a more moderate carb, a more balanced diet. And not only did these swimmers get faster and stronger, their body composition actually changed. They gained more lean muscle mass. And a nice aside: they had better mental focus.

TERESA: Another interesting outcome of Dr. Sears’ research of following that balanced diet of 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fat is the swimmers had less inflammation in their body and less muscle soreness.

CASSIE: No surprise to us, right? I mean, if you're loading up on carbs, the breads, the bagels, the pasta that turns to a lot of sugar. We know sugar creates inflammation. And then that could lead to more muscle soreness after a workout or after an event. So no surprise to us, but it might be new news for some of our listeners. So back to this balanced meal plan that Dr. Barry Sears discovered really worked well for these elite swimmers. You know, I would have to say if, if one of my teenagers came up to me today and said, “Mom, what should I eat to help me play my best and help our team win this next basketball tournament?” Well, I'd probably say, well, you know what to do because we talk about this a lot at our house, but you know, if you're not a registered dietitian like me and your teenager asks you a similar question, tell them balanced eating is where it's at. It's this moderate carbohydrate, plenty of good protein, plenty of good fats. And I'll give even more examples of that when we come back from this commercial break.

TERESA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. With school upon us now, I'm asking myself what meals can I cook that will support my family's body and their brains? For this reason, I'm always looking for fresh new ideas. So I'm taking the Cooking Brain Healthy Foods cooking class on September 29th at noon. Marianne will be back in her kitchen cooking up a storm. So I invite, invite you to join Marianne and I via Zoom to be inspired to feed your brain and your family's brains those critical nutrients we all need for learning and memory. This fun educational class is only $25. So give us a call at (651) 699-3438 to sign up.


Going Gluten Free the Healthy Way online class

CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Before Teresa and I get back to our topic of nutrition for student athletes, I have a couple of questions for our listeners. Are any of you out there struggling with pain and inflammation? Or do you have chronic digestive issues? Or maybe you're carrying around more weight than you'd like, and you just like, you can't get the scale to budge no matter what you do. Or are you struggling with memory problems? If you can say yes to any of those, I want to suggest that you consider taking our online class called Going Gluten Free the Healthy Way. I feel privileged to have been asked to teach this class. Even though it was a few years back now, I am the one teaching the class along with my coworker Mary Hauge. And I know why I was asked to teach the class, right?

I mean, it's been what; 11, 11 or 11 and a half years now that our family has been gluten-free. That's when we found out that both of my kids have celiac disease, which is the genetic autoimmune reaction to gluten. And around that same time, 11 years ago, I found out that I have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. So we live 100% gluten free. Our whole house is gluten free. I work hard to prepare delicious gluten-free meals for the whole family. So I don't just talk the talk. I live it. And that's why I was chosen to teach this class. And for a lot of people, they find relief from what is ailing them when they go gluten-free; not everybody, but a lot of people. So if you think this might be for you, try taking the class and then, you know, try going gluten free for at least four weeks. I usually say four to six weeks, and your body will tell you whether or not that's the answer. And today through August 31st, this gluten-free class, and a lot of our others that are up online are at a special price of just $10 each. So if you're interested, you can sign up online at or you can call the office at (651) 699-3438.

So before we went for break, I was just saying that that meal plan that Dr. Barry Sears implemented for those Stanford swimmers, and he found that it helped them swim faster, win more races. That's a good general way that we should be teaching our middle school and high school athletes to eat too. So if we want to put our student athletes on more of a moderate carbohydrate versus carbohydrate loading, more of a moderate carbohydrate diet with adequate protein and adequate fat, what would that look like? And before I get into an actual real life example, I want to say, especially when I think of my son, who's growing so fast and very active in sports, that protein piece is really important. And so be sure that your kids are getting in enough protein to grow and to maintain muscle mass. And if you can get protein from grass fed animals, that would be great, you know, and, and get them what they like. If they enjoy beef and chicken, load them up on that. If they'd rather eat turkey or organic eggs, those are good protein sources too. Pork, especially if you can find it from grass fed hogs, that would be a good protein source. And when we're talking about serving sizes for, you know, everybody's a little bit different, because we're all different sizes. But I would say if you can strive for about three to four ounces of animal protein at a meal for these student athletes.

And if you want a good visualization of that, if you can think of a deck of cards, that is about three ounces. So three to four ounces, and then have them eat that amount of protein three to four times a day. Those small doses are best because then your body can actually utilize it and turn it into muscle. If your student doesn't eat much all day, and then they get home at night and eat a huge pile of protein, whether that's hamburger, chicken, whatever, their body can't turn all of that all at once into muscle. And your body will actually turn some of that excess into sugar if you overdo it at any one meal with the protein. So that's what I wanted to say about the protein piece. Then you're going to focus on carbs. Certainly our athletes need carbs, but they all could stand to eat more vegetables.

So remember that vegetables are carbohydrates; sweet potatoes, white potatoes if you want to give them that; carrots, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, if they'll eat those things. Those would be carbs as well. And then certainly rice; brown rice, preferably for more nutrition. Beans would be another good carbohydrate source. We don't need to load our kids up on the gluten grains. We don't need to load them up on pasta and bread in order to give them enough carbs for energy, just, just my 2 cents there. And remember what Teresa said about Tom Brady? He follows an anti-inflammatory diet, a diet that helps him perform at his best, even though he's in his forties. And that anti-inflammatory high performance diet is made up of a lot of lean meats, a lot of vegetables and a lot of healthy fats. And so thinking of that fat piece. I've talked about the protein. I've talked about the carbs.

The fats; when I'm in my kitchen, I, I love to cook, but I love to keep it simple. So just thinking of what I have right now in my cupboards; I have a huge tub of coconut oil. I love to cook with coconut oil. Sometimes I use avocado oil. I use bacon grease from organic hogs when I have it. I don't have any on hand right now, but I love to roast my vegetables in that bacon grease. And then I use extra virgin olive oil. So think about what all of those fats have in common. They're all natural. They're all as close to their natural state as possible. And that's what you want to strive for when you are choosing your fats. And the next analogy I'm going to give. I know we've talked about this a lot on Dishing Up Nutrition before, but I think it bears repeating.

When you think about your car, you fill your car with good gasoline and you give it an oil change on a regular basis and you use good clean oil so that your car performs at its best. And it's really the best for our bodies and our kids’ bodies. We need to give them the right fuel in the form of good healthy foods run on, and we need to give them healthy fats, just like our car needs good oil. So think of those natural fats I just mentioned as fuel or oil for your athlete to perform their best. We don't want to gum up the optimal workings of their body and their brain with those damaged bad oils. And I'm going to spell out specifically what those damaged bad oils and fats are after we come back from this next commercial break.

Nutrition Counseling

TERESA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Are you a mom of an athlete? Perhaps you're a mom of a basketball player, a skater, or a softball or baseball player, or maybe you have a champion trap shooter in your family. Each and every athlete needs a variety of real food full of key nutrients like Cassie has been mentioning, to keep them going and performing at their best. Each and every athlete needs their own personalized eating plan. We encourage you to make an appointment to help get your athlete on the right nutrition plan. Make a 90 minute appointment and let us help you help your athlete. Call 651-699-3438 to set up an appointment for the best time for you and your athlete.


CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're just joining us, my name is Cassie Weness and I'm in studio with Teresa Wagner. We are both registered and licensed dietitians. And today's topic is Food for Athletes and Kids in Sports. And as I was preparing for this show today, I, I was reminded of a scenario back when my son was in middle school. And I just want to share this personal observation. It might be helpful for some. When my son who now is going to be a sophomore in high school this year was in middle school that very first year, and he started middle school as a fifth grader. So it's been a few years now, but I remember being really surprised to see how many of his basketball and soccer teammates needed to use inhalers. And at the time as I, you know, I got over my shock and then I realized my kids would probably have prescription, I know they would have prescription inhalers if I was not their mom, and if I didn't work for Nutritional Weight and Wellness.

Because I made the connection early on that for my kids, corn is very inflammatory. And for them, it goes right to their lungs. It's like the bronchial tubes in their lungs get all inflamed and they really have trouble breathing. There have been some scary episodes when they were younger, before I connected these dots. And one time we did actually end up in the doctor's office. So I know if I hadn't gotten out the corn chips and removed the corn tortillas and the, you know, corn flakes; there's so many things that have corn in them when you start reading ingredient lists. I know if I hadn't removed those things from their diet, they would need an inhaler. And you know, that being said, since Riley was, my oldest, was four years old, our family has been 100% gluten-free as well. So who knows? If we were still eating gluten, maybe that gluten would cause inflammation in his lungs too. So I, I say this story, because if this resonates with even just one parent out there, if you think there might be a connection between something your child is eating and the inflammation in their lungs that's causing their asthma or causing them to need an inhaler, go with your intuition. Cut out that food, whether it's corn or gluten or whatever you think might be aggravating them. Cut out that food for three weeks. Do it 100% for three weeks. And your child's body will tell you whether or not that is a food that they should be avoiding.

So, oh, when we went to break, which seems like a long time ago now, but I did say, didn’t I Teresa; that I would tell the listeners what those four damaged oils are that they should be keeping out of their kitchen. So when we talk about the four worst offenders in, in terms of fats and oils, it would be soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and canola oil. So if you can read your ingredient lists and just try not to bring anything with those ingredients into your house. Kids will get those foods when they're out at a restaurant or, you know, eating with their friends. So just keep it out of your house. And at least there, you know that they'll be eating clean.

TERESA: Right. And I think that we can generically call those vegetable oils.

CASSIE: True, good point.

TERESA: So sometimes it's just labeled as vegetable oils and really, you know, the thing that I would say just to summarize is just the thing that is necessary for all athletes is really to just eat real food and not processed foods.

CASSIE: I love that. I'm glad you said that. Eat real food, not processed foods. Whether you have a football player or a track star or a dancer, you know, that's the bottom line here. I think when we throw out these numbers, like Dr. Barry Sears was advocating 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat, that that gets pretty confusing for the regular listener. But the bottom line here, if we can get our kids eating real food the majority of the time and not processed foods, that is where it's at. And you know, if you, if you're listening and you're thinking really, you know, kids are so active and they burn their calories so fast. Do I really have to be concerned about what they're putting in their mouth in terms of food? Well, certainly Teresa and I would answer that with a resounding yes; right. I think a more impactful way to look at that.

If any of you are having that question right now is to, to look your kids. And, and, and I guess I would ask you what are some indicators that your child, your athlete might not be getting the right diet? And as a registered dietitian, and as a mom, the first thing I would say is look at your child's energy level. If their energy is lower than it should be, if they're experiencing fatigue a lot of days of the week, then there's something off with their diet, or if they're having trouble focusing, and school's starting. We don't want that trouble with focus. There's usually a diet connection there. Or if your child is struggling with some low moods, there's usually a food connection. So if you're seeing any of those issues with your kids, try getting them to eat more protein. Get them eating healthy fats, and a lot of real carbs; real carbs. Like, you know, I always tell my kids, it's, it's real if we could grow it in our backyard. So, or if grandma and grandpa could raise it on their farm. So when we talk about carbs, it's things like potatoes, the brown rice, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, peas; those are real carbohydrates. So if we were to put this concept into a meal, let's talk about what, what that might look like. For breakfast, you could scramble up some eggs for your child; maybe cook up some bacon to go along with that. And then instead of serving them a big bagel that is just loaded with carbohydrates, how about you cook them up some hash browns; potatoes, right? So a real food. Cook them up some hash browns in real butter. That would be a great start to their day. And we know how hungry teenagers get right; especially those teenage boys. So that breakfast might not be enough to hold them over until lunch, in which case you could send them off with a protein shake for a morning snack. And we have several really tasty recipes to pick from on our website at And I want to say too, especially if you're struggling to get your student athlete to eat enough protein, the whey protein powder or the Paleo Protein powder that these shake recipes call for is a delicious way to sneak that in.

What should teenage girls be eating for regular menstrual cycles?


TERESA: Okay. So let's switch gears a little bit and I want to talk about our female athletes. If you are a mom of a teenage girl who is a triathlete, a soccer player, maybe a volleyball star, the question you might ask is, “Is my daughter eating enough to have regular menstrual cycles? An indication of not having adequate nutrition is irregular menstrual cycles that often skip for months. Okay. So some moms might be asking, “What does nutrition have to do with menstrual cycles? Why is nutrient deficiency a problem? What nutrients are missing that could be causing missed or irregular cycles?” Well, generally speaking, it's from an overall lack of adequate nutrition, particularly enough calories or energy, usually in the forms of fats and proteins that supplies the body the energy it needs in order to support the natural processes. The hormonal imbalance can put your daughter at a higher risk for a stress fracture. So it can affect her bone health. Then, you know, your, your athlete could be out for the rest of the season. This low energy intake or food intake, irregular menstrual cycles and low bone density is known as the female athlete triad. The female body is unable to maintain estrogen levels to support regular menstrual cycles and proper bone formation and density. So it's really important for our girls to be eating enough foods.

CASSIE: Really important. And, and I wish my mom or I had known when I was a teenage athlete, not just that, that you need to be eating enough foods, but that low fat is not the way to go because now we know fats are so important for bone formation.

TERESA: Right; and for hormones.

CASSIE: And for regular cycles, I mean, it just all connects.

TERESA: Yeah, our sex hormones are based off of like their backbone is a cholesterol backbone. So we need to have fats, particularly saturated fats and foods that contain cholesterol for proper…

CASSIE: To give your body the substrate to make, to make those hormones. So, yeah, I think it goes without saying those male athletes, male teenage athletes, middle school athletes certainly need a lot of extra fuel, but so do our girls. So if you have a teenage girl that's really seeming to be limiting her calories, maybe she's doing that, you know, to look better for the dance team or maybe she's in ballet or whatever the reason, it's probably time to step in. Or I've had, back when I was seeing clients for Nutritional Weight and Wellness, I had more than one teenage boy in. And of course the parent brought them in that was a wrestler, and they were avoiding food and water trying to make a lower weight class. So there too, you know, you need to step in because this kind of behavior in the male or the female athletes can lead oftentimes to eating disorders. It can lead to those stress fractures Teresa mentioned. It can lead to a loss of self-esteem and other health issues.

TERESA: Right. And as parents, I think we typically know what is best for our children and young adults. And we try to feed them well, but they don't always listen to us.


Meal and snack ideas for kid athletes


TERESA: That being the case, here are a few ideas I found to be useful when working with athletes: make some protein shakes ahead of time, freeze them, pack them in a cooler bag. And they'll thaw during the day and be ready to drink before practice or a game. I also think about what types of proteins would be quick to eat before practice, like maybe some deviled eggs, or maybe just hard-boiled eggs with an orange or something, and have those things all peeled up and ready to go. Stock up on foods that are easy to just throw in a bag and go like beef or turkey sticks, nitrate free jerky, natural pepperoni's, 100% grass fed summer sausage, pumpkin seeds, nuts, olives, cheese sticks, those individual guacamole packs, those peanut butter packs.

I like the RX brand because it's got the added protein from the egg white. RX bars actually work really well. Cuties, you know, those little oranges that are easy to peel, apples, bananas, grapes, carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks; whatever your kids like. And then I would suggest when you know the things that your kids like make a list of it; so you’re not always trying to come up with new ideas. You just refer to the list and buy those things. And then put them in a place where your kids know where they are so they can pack their own snacks before their practices and things. Because as parents, we need to teach our kids food skills and we need to give them responsibility. So we want, always want to have that grab and go energy at our fingertips. Otherwise, the other types of foods are readily available and very tempting.

CASSIE: Drop the mic. I love all of that. I love all your ideas. And I love that you said, you know, we need to give our kids food skills and responsibility. Yes! You know, this might seem overwhelming all that Teresa and I are talking about in terms of feeding our kids real food, but at a pretty young age, the kids can start stepping in and helping. And then when they get to be my kids' ages, you know, if you've modeled it well, and you've put the healthy foods in the refrigerator and in the cupboards, they really can do it themselves. And I'm thinking now of Riley this summer. This was the first year he, he got because of his age, the early morning basketball camp time. So all summer long, he had to be at the gym by 6:30 for 6:45 basketball camp. And so I put him in charge of his own food. I'm not getting up any extra early, you know, earlier than I have to. So he would get up and make a good, healthy snack to get him through practice. And then he'd come home by nine o'clock and make his own breakfast. So his snack, for example, actually, maybe we should go to break and I'll tell you what he would pack for his own morning snack when we get back.


Nutrition for Weight Loss series

TERESA: So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. For those of you out there listening and thinking, “Well, I don't have athletes to worry about. I just need to get myself on track.” Maybe you are tired of dieting to try to lose weight and have decided to focus on getting healthy and strong. For those people, I would suggest taking the Nutrition for Weight Loss program. This program includes 12 weekly education classes and three one hour nutrition appointments with a dietitian or nutritionist. Throughout the 12 weeks, you will receive the education and support to make the habit changes you need to be successful. Remember the saying slow and steady wins the race? The race to wellness takes time, but with education and support, the race can be one. Start the Nutrition for Weight Loss program this September, and be ready to feel good about yourself this holiday season. Call our office at 651-699-3438 to ask your questions and get them answered.


CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Before we run out of on-air time, I just want to say that all of us at Nutritional Weight and Wellness understand that the past year and a half have been challenging for a lot of people. Maybe you were one of the countless people who gained weight as you were confined to your home during the pandemic. Maybe you turned to sugar for comfort. I remember an acquaintance of mine confessing that she started buying and eating those little mini powdered sugar doughnuts when COVID-19 first hit and we were all working from home. And she said something to me like “I never would have eaten those in the past.” So was she turning to those for comfort? I'm not sure. Or maybe some of our listeners started having a big bowl of ice cream as a bedtime snack, or maybe you started having a glass of warm milk and cookies at bedtime, probably telling yourself it would help you fall asleep.

But we all know the real story. Don't we? All of that sugar doesn't help with sleep. It disrupts sleep. And I know for many, it wasn't the sugary treats they turn to during the uncertain times of the pandemic. It was the alcohol; a glass or two of wine or a bottle or two of beer. When this starts happening on a nightly basis, it will bring on unwanted weight gain, high blood sugars, and alcohol in the evening most often leads to a poor night's sleep. So all that said, at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we realize that for most people, if not all people, they need support to break bad habits. At Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we don't judge. We listen and we educate and we support. Like my boss likes to say, “When you know better, you do better”. So if you're interested in getting the knowledge and the support you need to do better, call us at (651) 699-3438 and set up an appointment with one of our registered dietitians or licensed nutritionists.

And as we were going to break, if you remember, I was just about to tell you what my 15, 15 year old was packing for his own morning snack as he had to leave the house early for those early morning basketball practices or basketball camp. So he would get up. I mean, he'd change it up sometimes. But the one that I remember is he, he loves the Applegate nitrate-free deli ham. So he'll take several slices of that. And he'll put cream cheese; we use a dairy free cream cheese at our house, because we just don't do well with dairy. But if you do okay with dairy, do the plain full fat cream cheese. So Riley would put cream cheese on each of those slices, roll them up and make those deli meat roll-ups. And then I always have some type of fresh fruit, usually several types of fresh fruit, ready to grab and go in the fridge. So oftentimes he would grab some grapes, put those in a baggie. So he had that magic number three. The ham was his protein, the cream cheese his fat and the grapes his carbohydrate, and we'd be out the door. And then when he'd get home around 9:30 or yeah, it was usually around 9, 9:30 when he'd get back, then he would make himself breakfast. And one of his favorite breakfasts is to cook up some organic Applegate sausage links. And then he'll take an apple, slice it thin, put sun butter on each slice. And then he's got his carb and his healthy fat there too. So get your kids involved, you know, teach them how to cook. And you might find that they really enjoy it. I know Riley likes making his own food because he can, you know, make it a little bit bigger than mom might, depending on his appetite. He knows, he knows what he needs.

TERESA: It’s good for their self-esteem too.

CASSIE: Yes true; to be independent.

TERESA: Exactly.

CASSIE: I agree. And, and believe me, Teresa and I both know there's never enough time between school and practice. And we have school starting up here soon. At least our district starts here after Labor Day. But an athlete especially needs food after that long day of school. So here's another practical idea that you could pack for your child or they could pack for themselves. Something that I like to do on a weekend is throw a pack of, like I'll get a 12 pack of organic chicken legs; throw that in the Crock-Pot, pour a half a cup to a cup of your favorite salad dressing over the top and cook that on low for six to eight hours. And then you have these grab and go chicken legs. So then when the school week starts, you could throw two of those chicken legs and a Tupperware full of blueberries and cut-up strawberries into a little cooler pack and send your teenager off. So they have a delicious, healthy snack after school before practice starts. You could also make the gluten-free muffins from our Weight and Wellness cookbook. It's a good idea to do a double batch right from the start. And then freeze a bunch of them so you have those to grab out of the freezer and you could send a muffin along with, I don't know, maybe some nitrate free salami and your child's favorite fruit. And there's another great tasty after school snack.

TERESA: Right. And I try to teach my kids sort of that same thing, you know, to perform well in the game of life, not just on the court or on the field, they need to eat healthy, real food that will give their body and brain the nutrients that they need. So we need to stop, you know, driving through the fast food lane and make things in our Crock-Pot to make it convenient for us, you know, or whatever method that you use that's easy for you; maybe some chili in the Crock-Pot or some chicken wild rice soup. I make beef roast in the Crock-Pot all the time. You can put a whole chicken in the Crock-Pot and let it cook.

CASSIE: I mean, it doesn't get any simpler. You would spend more time sitting in the fast food drive-through lane.

TERESA: Right. And I think that when we have these athletes, we also have to think about our schedules. They might need two dinners. It might be something that's after school. And then after the game or practice that are substantial meal-like eating, feeding times.

CASSIE: Yes. Yes. I agree.

TERESA: Yes. Well, before we get to the end of the show, I think we should talk about hydration don't you Cassie?

CASSIE: Right. That is so important. So we've talked about food, which is certainly our area of expertise, but hydration, hydration, hydration. It's so key. And if your kids aren't big on drinking plain old water, we have some ideas. Something I used to do, and right now Marissa is huge on drinking water. She fills up her Hydro Flask and I mean, she's really good. But there was a time when I was struggling to get her to drink more water. So I started taking a couple of orange slices and squeezing that into a glass and adding ice. Sometimes I'd put the orange slice on the side, like a garnish because you know, presentation goes a long way with kids, but that's a cold tasty beverage with just a little bit of natural sugar from those orange slices and Marissa loved it.

TERESA: Yeah. And for the post-workout post, you know, practice chocolate milk lovers, you can make a healthy chocolate milk from using whole milk and adding a scoop of collagen powder and a scoop of Key Greens and just put it in your shaker bottle and shake it up.

CASSIE: That's a great idea.

TERESA: And I think, you know, and it's great for replacing the protein and getting some of that glycogen replacement. One thing that we talk about with replacement and that's very popular with kids is electrolyte replacements in the form of Powerade, Gatorade, Propel; those types of sports drinks. These drinks we do not recommend because they're either full of sugar or artificial sweeteners.

CASSIE: Artificial coloring.

TERESA: Colors. Yes, because nothing comes in those colors in nature.

CASSIE: That bright neon blue.

TERESA: They are so full of sugar. So if you want to replace your kid's electrolytes, you can do this in a very healthy, very simple, very refueling way. All they need is water and salted nuts. The salt will give you this sodium and the chloride. The nuts will give you some magnesium. And then if you throw a banana with it, you've got some potassium.

CASSIE: Love it. And then have them drink water.

TERESA: Water.

CASSIE: Water, water, water.

TERESA: That's right. So our goal at Dishing Up Nutrition is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life-changing. Thank you for joining us today and enjoy these final, hot humid days that Minnesota offers.

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