Are you thinking about completely changing your teenage athlete's diet? Think again.
A complete dietary overhaul for a teen is often not realistic. There are just too many outside factors to contend with, such as training, school, studies and friends. The solution is to find a few areas, here and there, to improve a teenager's diet.
One of the best places to start is in the morning.
Most important meal
Less than 50 percent of teens eat breakfast, but it is actually the most important meal of the day:
- Breakfast is your child's wake-up call for pure physical energy;
- Breakfast helps her to recoup the energy lost overnight;
- Breakfast raises blood sugar to healthy levels so she can access energy from glycogen stores in muscles and the liver; and
- Raising blood sugar also helps an athlete to use fat for training, especially for endurance workouts over 90 minutes.
Research suggests that breakfast can also make the difference between:
- being at ideal weight or overweight,
- being alert or having a poor attention span, and
- fighting off infection or getting a cold or the flu.
Some recent studies also suggest that skipping breakfast may be associated with an increased prevalence of obesity and can make your child even more susceptible to gaining weight.
The morning meal can be an easy way for your young athlete to meet one-third of his daily dietary needs for carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals.
The key is to serve meals that work for your child. If he's not too hungry in the morning, try smoothies, shakes, breakfast bars, or even a glass of fortified juice.
And remember: you don't have to always serve typical breakfast foods. Sandwiches can be a great choice, for example, or try serving a breakfast burrito.
Burritos: any time, any meal
Indeed, burritos are a great choice for any meal or snack, because they are an easy-to-prepare, one-dish meal that can be eaten fresh, even when your child is on the road, at any time of the day.
Here's a recipe from culinary expert and chef, Michelle Austin, of On Thyme Consulting. It is a high calorie, high carbohydrate dish rich in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron and vitamin C.
1 egg and 1 egg white scrambled
1/2 cup of small cut turkey sausage or ground turkey
1 Tb diced onion
1 Tb diced pepper - red or green
1 oz of sharp "Lite" cheddar cheese
1 tsp olive oil or margarine
Whole wheat, spinach or tomato tortilla
- Heat pan with olive oil, vegetable spray or margarine
- Sauté onion and peppers
- Scramble eggs, adding onions, salt, pepper and hot sauce (optional)
- Add cheese at very end - heat on low
For variety, add broccoli, spinach, or black beans.
Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CssD, LMHC, is an adjunct professor in the University of Miami Department of Exercise Sciences, and, as Director of Sports Nutrition and Performance for the Miami Hurricanes. For a complete biography, click on her byline at the beginning of the article.
Created August 14, 2010