Eat well, play well

The X’s and O’s of the Student Athlete – Kathleen McCann (Cara Smith/AQ)

As a student-athlete you accept that there are sacrifices you have to make. You don’t have nearly as much free time as most of your friends, you can almost never host a party, and what I’ve noticed lately is that there is almost no time to cook.

When I say cook I don’t mean macaroni and cheese or roman noodles. I am talking about real meals with all four food groups, something like your mom would make. I can remember in high school I would come home from practice to a plate of rice with honey garlic ribs on top and veggies on the side. The thought of a meal like that now actually makes my mouth water.

It also makes me think about how much time it would take to cook. Time that, unfortunately, I don’t have.

When it comes to prioritizing, school work trumps cooking a real meal. If I only have two free hours during the day I usually decide to focus on academics, which leads to me eating grilled cheese and vegetable soup for supper.

There are nights when I can take the time to cook a nutritious meal, but they are few and far between.

This situation can be somewhat problematic since healthy eating is directly linked to athletic performance. Your food intake acts like fuel, which will influence your energy level. The more healthy food you eat, the more energy you’re going to have, and the more energy you have, the better you’re going to perform.

It’s especially important the night before a game to make healthy food choices that will give you the best chance for success. In this situation it’s important to take the time to cook a good meal, which may result in lost time for something else, like school work.

As a student athlete, you’ve committed to being your best in the classroom and on the court, which means you have to prioritize between the two. On nights where there is school work that has to be done your nutrition may suffer, and on the eve of game day you have to eat well so your school work may suffer.

It’s a balancing act that isn’t easily achieved, but it’s reality for student athletes. There is no perfect answer to this problem; it’s a constant work in progress.

My solution: do the best you can academically, eat the best you can as often as you can, and play the best you can. The rest is out of your control.

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