During March, as we celebrate National Nutrition Month ® 2023. The national nutrition month ® annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, on building nutrition awareness.
The campaign shares messages about the impact of healthy eating and physical activity habits on our health and well being.
You can also learn more from registered dietitian nutritionists about how our food choices impact our energy and health.
Read on to learn more about how athletes can incorporate National Nutrition Month ® 2023 tips into your daily routine.
What is this year’s theme for National Nutrition Month ®?
The theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month ® is “Fuel for the Future,” centered on how fueling ourselves today impacts our health in the future.
You can learn about how good nutrition can affect your overall health and sports performance, now and in the future.
Also, as we fuel for the future, keep sustainability in mind and try new foods and ways of cooking. No single food provides every nutrient an athlete needs. So, you can build a foundation of healthy eating by incorporating new ideas.
How do we celebrate National Nutrition Month?
We celebrate National Nutrition Month ® 2023 by participating in activities where we can learn more about making informed food choices and building healthy habits for eating and physical activity.
Some ideas for celebrating National Nutrition Month ® 2023 include:
- Trying a new food each week during National Nutrition Month ®.
- Rolling up your sleeves and experiment with new recipes in the kitchen
- Packing healthy and sustainable lunches using reusable containers
- Taking a walk with your family or friends to stay physically active
- Writing down goals for continuing healthy eating habits throughout the year
11 tips to build healthy habits this year
- Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Include high fiber complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain toast, oatmeal, high fiber cereal and fresh fruit. Add lean protein and healthy fats to provide sustained energy throughout the day. Breakfast is one of the most important meals for athletes. Because if you don’t eat breakfast it’s hard to make up the energy needs later in the day. (1)
- Prep and plan your meals and snacks in advance. Ensure you have healthy options readily available, especially when on-the-go or traveling to a sports tournament. Stash healthy snacks in your gear bag, locker and car so that you have good options on hand when hunger strikes. It’s especially important when you’re on the road with your team. Sticking to your normal routine as close as you can to your routine so that you’ll feel your best come game time. Check out our blog posts for healthy eating while traveling and eating on the road.
- Experiment with new recipes and flavors. To keep meals interesting and enjoyable, and to ensure that you are getting a variety of nutrients, opt for new foods when shopping or dining out. Try new vegetables, whole grains, herbs, and spices to add flavor, fiber and nutrients to your meals. By incorporating new foods and flavors into your diet, you’ll be able to keep meals interesting and enjoyable while also getting the nutrients your body needs to perform at its best.
- Plan for post-workout meals. Planning ahead for post-workout meals can help ensure that you’re refueling your body with the nutrients it needs to replenish your energy stores and help repair and rebuild muscles. Recovery nutrition options like fruit and low fat greek yogurt with granola, high protein vegan snacks paired with a complex carbohydrate or one of our many suggestions for after game snacks ideas.
- Practice mindful eating – Take the time to savor your meals and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. This can help you avoid overeating and make more mindful food choices. Listen to your body and adjust your sports nutrition plan accordingly. If you are feeling tired or sluggish, try adding more complex carbohydrates to your meals.
- Be mindful of portion sizes – Athletes need to ensure that the meals they eat generally have around 50-60% carbohydrate. Following the performance plate guide and having at least half of your plate filled with carbohydrates, ¼ filled with lean protein and ¼ with fruits and vegetables (color).
- Snack smart by choosing healthy options . Try healthy snacks that incorporate a carbohydrate, and protein such as fresh fruit and cottage cheese, raw veggies with hummus, low fat greek yogurt with granola, bagel and cream cheese or trail mix with dried fruit.
- Stay hydrated. Athletes need more fluids than the average person because of fluid lost during exercise. You should begin your day with an 8 ounce glass of water, and continue drinking water throughout the day and during exercise. You’ll want to ensure that you replenish your fluid stores and adequately rehydrate. Check out our blog post on optimal hydration for athletes.
- Choose a variety of plant-based foods. Add plant focused foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, into your diet to provide essential nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. Don’t be afraid to try new protein sources, such as tempeh, lentils or edamame for new nutrients and flavors.
- Incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet and can help support brain health and hormone production. Healthy fats also reduce inflammation and can support joining healthy in recovery after sports events. Try adding avocado, nuts or seeds to your meals. Choose oil and vinegar based dressings instead of heavy or creamy options.
- Choose whole foods over supplements. While supplements may be convenient, try to eat whole, nutrient-dense foods to get the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Athletes can benefit from incorporating these tips for National Nutrition Month® into their sports nutrition performance plans. Have fun when planning pre game meals and snacks for halftime or after the game.
Remember, don’t try a new food on game day. Use practice days and weekends to try out new foods.
What’s new food will you try first?
Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 20 years in public health and nutrition experience. As a performance nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.