In this blog, former Nordic racer and World Cup ski mountaineering champion Nina Silitch discusses nutrition for Nordic skiers.
Healthy, Holiday Eating for Young Nordic Skiers:
With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us and another one just around the corner, it is important to think about fueling our young nordic skiers for optimum performance. Did you know the average American consumes 3500-4000 calories on Thanksgiving? You would have to ski about 80 k’s to burn that much off! Since the first snowfall last week, some of us may have already skied 80 km’s! We know the season is here as nordic skis and poles are displayed neatly in garages and mudrooms! Lycra suits and team jackets hang drying around the house like holiday ornaments. Nordic boots are lined up in the hall like Dutch clogs waiting for St. Nicholas.
But these young Nordic skiers need more than the carrots and cookies that fuel Santa Claus and his reindeer. They need optimum nutrition for optimum performance. Due to busy school schedules, late afternoon practices and long drives to races, eating healthy meals and snacks can be a challenge, as does the holiday season. Keeping your young athlete well fueled and hydrated is probably one of the best holiday gifts you can give to your child this season.
This P.E.R.F.O.R.M.A.N.C.E. acronym can provide some tips for optimal fueling for the young nordic skier during this holiday season and beyond.
Provide a colorful plate
Pick nutrient rich foods. Fresh veggies, whole grains and healthy proteins.
Plan & Provide healthy choices for your young athlete.
Eat Well & Encourage healthy choices throughout the whole day.
Eat every three to four hours for peak performance in the classroom and on the field. Have healthy snacks on hand!
Recover, Rest & Remember
Replenish the body with good energy, good stretching and rest! Replenish with carbohydrates and protein no more than 30 min after completing a workout. Eating the right foods after a workout helps build muscle and prepare the body for the next day. A glass of chocolate milk is always a favorite for young athletes. If dairy is not an option, try soy or almond milk. For quick energy, try a hard-boiled egg or a few walnuts and a banana. Remember to stretch all the target muscles within 3 hours of finishing your workout. 10 minutes is all you need. Roll on a foam roller. Rest is so important to good health and performance and part of Recovery. Be sure your young athlete is getting 9-10 hours of sleep for optimum performance. Screens should be turned off at least 1 hour before bed.
Focus on hydration
Even when it’s cold you can become dehydrated. Nordic skiers are encouraged to carry a drink pack with them at all times when training and a water bottle to school when not training. In really cold weather, put in warm water to avoid freezing. Water is the drink of choice. Avoid sports drinks, or sodas as a beverage for meal times. Herbal teas are a nice treat to have in a thermos on cold ski days. Don’t forget to wash out the drink bottles to rid those pesky germs.
Organic Though organic is more expensive, for certain things it is worth it! If anything, avoid the Dirty Dozen +plus Now more and more stores are providing organic options at reasonable prices.
Ritual: Make healthy eating a Regular Ritual for your family each day.
Sports nutrition only works if it becomes a part of the regular routine, day after day. Be prepared, pack healthy snacks and healthy meals so you’re always good to go. Just like training works with consistency, so does healthy eating. Roll model good habits
Make nutrition a priority
Athletes that make nutrition a priority see results in both performance and recovery. It’s okay to indulge in not-so-healthy favorites on occasion during the holiday season, but the majority of the time, pass on the junk!
Avoid sharing. It sounds selfish, but its for the good of everyone. Winter is the season for colds and flu; germs can spread like wild fire! Keep your young athlete healthy! Keep your team healthy! Teach them to wash their hands regularly, cough into their elbow and avoid sharing water bottles or utensils.
Nutrition is Fuel! Avoid processed foods. No junk! It’s a simple rule. A bag of chips, a box of cookies, a McDonald's hamburger, coca cola is not optimal fuel for performance. Think of what fuels us best. Provide healthy alternatives to post practice hunger. If you must go to fast food make a healthy choice. Read lables. Keep it fresh and whole. If your child can read and easily pronounce the label even better. The simpler the better.
Calories & Choices: Calories in versus Calories out. Be sure your young athlete is consuming enough calories to refuel their training load or perhaps they are consuming too many. Provide healthy choices for your athlete, not empty calories. Pack or stash nutritious snacks in the car or ski bag to avoid pre-practice energy or post practice food crashes. Ideas: Carrots and hummus. Lentil soup. Rice crackers and peanut butter. granola bars, fig bars, nuts.
Enjoy! Studies show that families who eat together stay together. Studies also show that children who exercise when they are young and eat a well balanced diet continue to do so as they become adults. Be role models for your young athletes. Enjoy that you are giving the gift of skiing, fitness and good nutrition for your young skier this holiday season.
Happy Holidays and Happy Skiing!
About the Author:
Nina Silitch is a certified Holistic Health Coach, Coach of Dublin School Nordic Team, former 2x World Cup Gold medalist in ski mountaineering. For more information on personalized health coaching and personal training you can find Nina on her website www.ninasilitch.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org