Eating for Sport and your Canteen
A health promoting sporting canteen ensures the community receives consistent messages about healthy eating and promotes health and wellbeing at the same time as providing greater choice to consumers. The ability of good nutrition to improve daily and sports performance is well known. By providing good food, your canteen can contribute to the nutritionally adequate diet and fluids that everyone from serious competitors and dedicated social players all the way through to our children in junior competition, need to perform at their best.
Fluids & Dehydration
Fluid losses during sport occur mostly via sweating. Losses of just 2% can impair performance, endurance, recovery, concentration, co-ordination, skill and decision making, and yet, most people will not necessarily feel thirsty at this point. Water is the best choice for maintaining hydration for most situations, as it does not contribute to teeth decay. Clubs should ensure that water is available from and promoted at the canteen and around the rest of the club. Children in particular, whose sweating mechanisms are not fully developed, require cool fluids such as water to help with keeping their body temperature down, especially in hot weather conditions.
Food & Performance
In addition to fluid we need a range of nutrients to help us perform at our best.
Carbohydrates: provide us with the fuel we need for working muscles and our brain during physical activity.
Proteins provide the building blocks to repair wear and tear after exercise. We should be able to get all the protein we need from food alone without the need for extra supplements.
Micronutrients such as vitamin C, B group vitamins and calcium are important to keep us strong and healthy. Anytime we choose foods and drinks we should take the opportunity to choose from the core food groups (check out the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating below). These foods help us get all the micronutrients we need.
Carbohydrate Rich Foods
- Breads, cereals, pasta, rice
- Milk, yoghurt
- Potato, corn
Protein Rich Foods
- Lean meat/ chicken/ fish
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese
Food from the Canteen
Canteens can play a role in not only promoting good health and nutrition but also contribute to daily and sports performance. They can do this by focusing on healthy menu options which provide low fat, micronutrient dense, carbohydrate and protein rich foods.
Some great options include:
Super Sandwich: Good quality lean ham or chicken or tinned fish or egg and plenty of salad (made with love)
Potato Power: Jacket Potato filled with lean savoury mince or baked beans and topped with a little reduced fat cheese (Top Tip: Mince can be made in bulk and frozen in smaller portions to reduce workload)
Burger: Lean beef patty on a roll with plenty of salad
Pasta: Pasta and vege’s in a tomato based sauce (Top Tip: Pasta can be made in advance and frozen, reheat in the microwave and place in your warmer ready for service)
Munch Pack: Fruit, nuts and a flavoured milk
Energiser Snack Pack: Popcorn and frozen fruit cup (Top Tip: Frozen fruit cups can be prepared by blending up any fruit – either whole pieces that didn’t sell on the day in the canteen and or combining with tinned fruit in natural juice and placing them in cups and freezing – these can be made well in advance. You could even blend with some reduced fat milk or yoghurt to give it a bit more “yum”.)
All of these options focus on items from the core food group, they are lower in fat and provide carbohydrate for energy. Try giving one or two of these options a go in your canteen.
Article by Nutrition Australia Qld as part of their Healthy Clubs Initiative.