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GUTS - Evolving Student Athlete Nutrition

The Dynamic Duo...Nutrition and REST!

Diane  Johnson
Diane JohnsonPublished on May 19, 2022

Rest isn't what most expect to hear about in a conversation about nutrition for student athetles. We might expect to see 'rest' in discussions about sleep, or stretching after a practice or training session. But INTENTIONAL rest absolutely belongs in conversations about food.

It comes down to digestion and the adaptations that our body has in place to keep us safe. The long and short of it is that we are not made to digest food when our body and mind are experiencing a threat or feeling pressured. Our nervous system ensures that the body systems that are operational during periods of stress are those which will help us to out-run, out-fight and out-think the possible threat. Digestion is not important when survival is on the line.

With this in mind, consider the life of the average student athlete. Busy at school all day, running to and from multiple activities, performing in competition, lifting in the gym, managing time with friends and family plus all of the pressures and stresses that come during teenage years. The reality is that many student athletes experience elevated levels of prolonged stress. While we may not think about how this impacts their nutritional status, it absolutely does.

Have you ever heard the expression, "You are what you eat." While this is true, you are more so what you digest. Without digestion working, the foods we eat are not properly broken down and we are unable to exctract the vitamins and minerals contained within them. Your student ahtletes could be working really hard on ensuring they are eating well, but if they are overwhelmed and stressed most of the time, it might all be for naught.

At GUTS we teach young athletes what intentional rest actually is so that they can practice it. We give them simple strategies that help shift the body into a more easeful state so that digestion (and a host of other really important body processes, like immunity and growth) can happen. Breathing exercises, using essential oils, grounding and mindful activities can often be used mid-day by student athletes when they are feeling overwhelmed or worried. The beauty of these practices for teens when 'image' is important is that no one else ever needs to know they are taking 30 seconds to focus on breathing or inhaling an essential oil for it's relaxing properties. In addition, we can also introduce young athletes to longer, more deeply relaxing practices like progressive muscle relaxation or yoga nidra when they have more time and a quiet space.

You'd be surprised at just how much the student athletes that we have worked with have ENJOYED these tools. No one likes to feel stressed out. The problem is that most of them dont' even know what 'realxed' feels like. Stressed and overrun is the norm.

We get to show them a different way to nourish their bodies and minds through nutrition AND intentional rest. The two is a match made in heaven for healthy, resilient, high performing and happy young athletes.

This is just one of the conversations that we have with student athletes, their parents and coaches. Make sure to join The Student Athlete Nutrition Hub waitlist so you can be the first to access all of our content on nutrition and healthy lifestyle for young atheltes.

And if you are a parent or a coach who is also on their own nutrition and lifestyle journey, you'll want to check out The Weekly. It starts on Tueday, May 31st.

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