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Skipping breakfast is probably the number one worst food habit for teen athletes. Teens are also tempted to skip meals or not eat much during the day because they are busy and don’t get enough breaks to eat. This leads to over-eating in the evening. Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LDN is a New Orleans based sports nutritionist who works with college and pro athletes. He says that big meals and snacks at night combined with inadequate sleep contribute to fat gain and a poor body composition. Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, the internationally recognized sports dietitian from Boston, recommends that athletes “fuel by day,” eating their calories when they are needed for activity.
Here are some tips for helping teens in your family:
- Keep “grab and go” breakfast foods on hand. Examples include bagels, yogurt, fruits, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter sandwiches, granola bars and individual boxes of cereal
- Pack snacks for school breaks and for before and/or after sports practices or games. Try raisins, graham crackers with peanut butter, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, individual fruit cups, fresh fruit, sandwiches, yogurt tubes, milk in “juice box” packaging, or string cheeses.
- Help teens to plan dinners that provide lean protein and plenty of vegetables. The plate method is a simple meal planning tool that teens can use at home or when they are away.