By Alicia Kendig//USOC Sport Dietitian | Monday, November 23, 2015
- It’s the holidays! A time to celebrate with family and friends, but during this small break from training, it’s wise to continue to make healthy performance based food choices…most of the time. With only eight months until the peak of the summer season, even small holiday set-backs can significantly push you behind in preparation for Rio.
- When given cookies/treats, share them with your family. If given lots of treats throughout the holidays, freeze some to enjoy at another time.
- As an athlete, lead by example. You are a role model for many, including your family and friends. Set a good example by eating performance based meals and snacks.
- When at dinner parties or eating at a restaurant, skip the appetizers/bread served before the meal, if you tend to eat too much.
- Without as many hours in the pool, your body may not need as many carbohydrates (breads, pastas, cereals) for energy. Cut back on these items accordingly, or, if training is ramping up, choose whole grain items as opposed to processed ones to fuel training and recovery.
- When sitting down for holiday meals, strategically build a balanced plate of whole grains, lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. Have a plan from the beginning.
- During training breaks, continue to eat numerous servings of lean protein every day, to maintain muscle mass and strength (chicken, turkey, eggs, nuts, seeds, milk, yogurt).
- Be aware of the calorie load of winter beverages, from both sugar and alcohol. A large cup of hot cholate can be 400+ calories, with a large dose of saturated fat. Substitute cream or whole milk with skim milk, or order a ‘small” or kid size. Mixed drinks are also around this calorie amount, and not only count as calories, but also take away from sleep quality and recovery time.
- If helping with baking in the kitchen, substitute solid fats (butter) with ½ canola oil or ½ fruit purees. This can actually make breads and cookies more delicious! Experiment.
- Many traditional holiday recipes have cooked fruits/vegetables in them. Don’t forget about benefits of eating raw fruit/veg and all of the nutrients found in every serving of them.
- Late night snacks can keep hunger away while sleeping, but too many cookies before bed can decrease sleep quality and cause restless nights. Make sure this snack first has protein for recovery while sleeping, then add a small amount of carbohydrates.
- Every serving of desserts/candy takes about 60-90 minutes of activity to burn off. Enjoy, but in moderation.
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