Roxanne Moore: Hi! I am Roxanne Moore, Registered Dietician and Director of Wellness for Sodexo Schools. Have you ever noticed that if people want to plan a vacation or buy something special, they spend hours researching the best option for the best price? But, when it comes to heath, people tend to haphazardly wander through a supermarket with no plan insight.
If you're an athlete, you need to pay close attention to what goes into your grocery cart. Let's consider each section of my plate. Now, we need to identify the types of foods that exist in the grocery store that will best fill the sections of the plate for an athlete's diet.
Let's begin with the Protein section of the plate. In this store, you want to look for and choose items such as 1% or non-fat yogurt, nuts, tofu, and lean meat such as poultry without the skin and cuts of meat to include the loin and round. You want to avoid processed, breaded, fried and whole milk products that simply contribute too much added fat and sodium to the athlete's diet.
Next, let's take a look at the fruits and vegetables section of the plate. Now, this is pretty easy. You could go crazy in the produce section of the supermarket and really not go wrong. Just make sure you're looking for fruits and vegetables that have plenty of color. For example, select a dark leafy green lettuce versus iceberg lettuce and how about sweet potatoes, oranges, berries and mangoes. All of these foods are naturally delicious and loaded with nutrients athletes need for good health.
Now if for some reason buying fresh fruits and vegetables are not the ideal option for you, try frozen vegetables or canned vegetables without added sodium. You can also look for canned or packaged fruits that are in their natural juices as well as dry fruits. But, you want to limit the amount of dried fruits since they tend to have a higher sugar content compared to fresh fruits. Frozen fruit is also another option and taste delicious especially when added to smoothies or cooked into oatmeal.
Now let's move on to the grain section. You want to load up your cart with whole grain cereals, brown rice, mini bagels and some snacks such as pretzels, whole grain crackers, popcorn and rice cakes. Now, you don't want to forget your beverages either. Choose My Plate recommends that we consume about three cups of dairy each day. However, some folks may be lactose-intolerant or have problems digesting milk. If that's the case for you, you can also try lactose-free milk or even a Soy Milk. For another calcium source, the calcium fortified orange juice is another option.
Now, you want to limit your purchase of sodas and other high sugar containing beverages. These beverages offer nothing more than added sugar calories and often occupy space in an athlete's diet that would be best reserved for other healthy foods and beverages such as water. If you like juice, you want to look for a 100% fruit juice and make sure you limit it to about a half-a-cup per day.
Finally, if you depend on already prepared meals such as those in the freezer section, look for frozen entres with less than 500 calories, less than 500 milligrams of sodium and no more than 5 grams of saturated fats. If you're a pizza lover, you can top a frozen of cheese pizza with extra veggie toppings like mushrooms and sliced peppers or even lean protein like diced chicken.
You can always complement these meals with a salad or other side vegetables and fruits, so that you can build a plate with 50% fruits and vegetables. So the next time you plan to shop, try to carve out some extra time to read the labels, compare products and what are your options. You're right, it takes time, but seriously, this is your health and your sports performance depends on it. So good luck!