Sports Nutrition for the Holidays

It's time for gathering with family, friends and food! The very best time of year to stay focused on your health and athletic performance goals. You can enjoy the holidays and keep your body ready for training and competition. 

Below are familiar tips that hopefully will become part of an athletic family's lifestyle. Perfection is not necessary, but consistent, healthy choices add up for the good of the athlete. 
  • Mindful eating. This is so important and simple, yet few of us slow down long enough to "smell the food." Take in the smells and flavors of each bite of food. Think about what you eat as energy that will fuel your next workout and competitions coming up in the near future. Notice how you feel as you eat. If you begin to feel overly full, stop for a moment and decide if you really want (or need) more. Never feel like you have to finish everything on your plate. Most of our typical serving sizes are more than we need. Consider smaller portions and more variety.
  • Maintain excellent hydration. Enjoy a special soda with cheery embellishments, but build a good foundation with regular water intake.  Drink water when you wake up, before, during, and after meals, and certainly surrounding practice times.
  • Offer to bring a healthy item you enjoy to the gathering. Knowing for sure there is something healthy to add to your plate will help dilute the less than healthy options. (see fruit salad below for an idea)
  • Fill 25% of your plate with protein.  Insert turkey!  It will fill you up, repair muscles, aid in recovery, and get you ready for your next practice.  Turkey is loaded with potassium (stabilizes blood sugar, maintains fluid balance and optimizes muscle and nerve function), zinc (builds immunity), niacin/B3 (supports brain function, lowers cholesterol, antioxidant), B12 (prevents anemia, may support bone health, improves mood, and improves the condition of hair, skin and nails). Cover about 50% of your plate with color or as much veggies and fruit as possible! 
  • Enjoy dessert, but don't go overboard.  Remember to eat mindfully and savor each bite.
  • Ignore food pushers. They encourage unplanned eating and make remarks like, "it won't hurt you". Although you can easily get back on track, remind yourself that you are an athlete who works very hard to maintain an athletic, performance-oriented lifestyle and strive to make good choices. You know how much time and effort it takes to be an elite athlete, and who knows, you may be a positive influence on someone else!
  • Take a walk.  Getting steps in before and/or after the big meals will help everyone feel better. Time outside benefits all!  More movement, less germs, greater space in the house...everyone wins!
  • Get back on track with your healthy lifestyle ASAP.  If you splurge on Thursday for lunch, get back to taking care of your athletic energy needs for Thursday dinner. Avoid the mentality of waiting until after the holidays to be healthy.   

Recipe adapted from

Make it your own!  Try variations like lemon juice and maple syrup, substitute with your favorite fruits, and maybe add poppy seeds, chia seeds, or you whatever else you like.  

~Coach Marli