By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
The holiday season presents countless opportunities for football players to overeat and overindulge. Don’t let your players spoil all of the gains they made throughout the season by adding bad weight around the holidays.
Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, is a sports nutrition counselor and author of the book, “Sports Nutrition Guidebook.” She understands that the holiday eating season can be a difficult time of year for football players to navigate. She offers 10 tips.
Ask yourself if you NEED to keep eating. “Before you eat, look at the food and ask if your body needs it. If you’re still hungry, go ahead. If you’re eating mindlessly when you’re already full, stop.”
Don’t have eating competitions. “Some football players take pride in having an identity as a ‘big eater.’ While this may be OK during the season, it’s not OK afterwards. Competitive eating can be a problem among athletes trying to determine who can eat more.”
Scale eating to exercise. “The more exercise you get, the hungrier you’ll be. The less exercise you get, the less you have to eat. Your body can naturally regulate the food you eat if you’re mindful of how much you’re putting in.”
Don’t get into last-chance eating. “So many people think the plate of Christmas cookies is going to disappear until next Christmas. The truth is Grandma would probably love to make you Christmas cookies in other months. It’s not the last chance you’ll ever get to eat them.”
Eat desserts in moderation. “If you’re on your eighth cookie, ask yourself if your body really needs it. Two cookies eaten mindfully are tastier and more satisfying than two cookies devoured without even tasting them. Savor the flavor.”
Don’t deprive yourself. “You want a diet that’s 85 to 90 percent quality nutrient-rich food. The other 10 percent can be whatever you want. So some days, you might eat an apple; other days, it’s apple pie. You can have a meal and dessert. If you eat desserts with no meal, it’s a problem.”
Start a diet you can sustain. “You don’t have to have a perfect diet to have an excellent diet. Moderation is important for sustainability. You want to eat a quality food plan that you’re willing to maintain for the rest of your life.”
Don’t confuse water for a meal. “If you’re thirsty, have a glass of water. But if your blood sugar is low and you feel hungry, that’s a signal that you want food. I’m not a big advocate of filling yourself up on water to avoid eating.”
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