6 Health Tips for National Nutrition Month


Nutrition on the brain. (Small)Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, CSSD

March is National Nutrition Month, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics posted 14 health tips for 2014 (http://www.eatright.org/nnm/handoutsandtipsheets/#.UxpID_2PLtQ).


Here are the some of the tips revisited for swimmers:

  1. Eat breakfast. Even the swimmer who dives into the pool at 6 a.m. needs breakfast to power through the morning workout. Quick breakfasts are easy with a little planning. A cup of instant oatmeal with nuts and berries, a carton of vanilla yogurt topped with granola, a pita pocket stuffed with scrambled egg and cheese, or a toaster waffle sandwich with honey and peanut butter can all be eaten the car while mom or dad drives.
  2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. It is easier than ever to steam frozen veggies (right in the pouch) or fresh veggies (right in the bag) for a healthy addition to a sandwich at lunch or grilled chicken for dinner. Try new combinations of veggies or tropical fruits for a change of taste.
  3. Watch portion sizes. Even swimmers sometimes over-do the carbohydrate and protein portions sizes. A 25-gram of carbohydrate pre-workout snack is small – the size of mini-bagel, or 1 large orange or 1 cup of dry cereal. And, post-workout protein needs only to be 15-20 grams; the amount found in 2 cups of low-fat milk, 2 or 3 ounces of meat or cheese, or 2 hard-boiled eggs.
  4. Get to know food labels. Use the Nutrition Facts Panel to learn how much carbohydrate, protein and fat is in a serving of your favorite foods. Food labels also show percentage of daily value for select nutrients; a food is an excellent source of a nutrient if it contains 20% or more of the daily value.
  5. Get cooking. If you like to watch cooking shows, make it more than a spectator sport. Find simple recipes online and get in the kitchen. Who knows? You might just be the next Master Chef Junior.
  6. Banish brown bag boredom. Packing lunch or snacks for pre-or post-swim practice doesn’t have to be boring. Try whole wheat couscous mixed with black beans or chickpeas, a flour tortilla filled with rotisserie chicken and leftover salad, or spinach wrap with sliced turkey and feta cheese. Freeze a 20-ounce bottle of sports drink or water or juice to keep the lunch cold. When lunch or snack time comes around, you will have kept your lunch cold and have an icy drink, too. 

Swimmers should celebrate good nutrition every month, so march into spring by paying special attention to your nutrition.

Chris Rosenbloom is a professor emerita of nutrition at Georgia State University and provides sports nutrition consulting services to athletes of all ages. She is the editor-in-chief of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Sports Nutrition Manual, 5th edition and editor-in-chief of an online Sports Nutrition Care Manual for health care professionals. She welcomes questions from swimmers, parents and coaches. Email her at chrisrosenbloom@gmail.com.  

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