Eating right for teen athletes

November 30, 2008 5:31:50 AM PST
Is your athletic son or daughter raiding the fridge again? It may seem like they are always eating, but are they eating the right things?

"Jake, dinner's ready," says Mandi Bergenfeld. She has a game plan to keep her athletic son interested in healthy food.

She explains, "So instead of saying to my son, "let's have chicken for dinner or steak for dinner, or broccoli for dinner," I said, "you know what, let's have a homerun dinner."

Her "pitch" was inspired by a book by sports medicine expert Dr. Robert Gotlin

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Dr. Gotlin says, "What's better for kids than to be on a Baseball diet, if you're a baseball player or like baseball? Or a basketball diet, or lacrosse? Make the kid and the diet match.

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Dr. Gotlin says athlete or not, kids need to eat lean meats, whole grains, and veggies.

"We have to make sure they're having a mixture of carbohydrates, or proteins, of fats. We have to assure they're getting their fruits, " he says.

Giving kids a choice of healthy fruits, or snacks, keeps them involved, and more likely to eat the food.

But keep the focus on good food, not supplements like protein shakes or bars.

Dr. Gotlin says, "The fact is, any healthy diet, any healthy diet, provides enough protein for an active child, even playing sports. There's no need for extra protein."

So Mandi's benching protein bars in favor of fruit.

As she says, "As long as he's having a well balanced meal, then he's getting all the protein that he needs."

These days, three-quarters of all student athletes play sports year round.

Dr. Gotlin says getting them onto a better diet for their favorite sport could be the first step to a lifetime of making healthy choices.


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