Offseason Nutrition: A Time to Reset
By Dina Griffin
You are in between racing seasons and you find yourself enjoying some downtime to focus on some activities for fun and fitness. If you haven’t already decided on this season’s race schedule, you are likely still pondering what you want to tackle. Perhaps the goal of weight loss or a desire to change your nutrition habits is on your mind before you get in the thick of training again for the season.
If you are motivated to make some changes to your nutrition to positively affect your health and body composition, don’t wait to make resolutions for change. The tips below can help you hit the reset button.
- Kitchen purge: Go through your refrigerator, freezer and cabinets. Dispose of highly processed food items (like that macaroni and cheese box) and snack foods that you know do not help you toward improved nutrition. Get out of your mind the notion that you need to eat these unhealthy foods rather than they go to waste. While you’re at it, check for expiration dates and discard those old items.
- Stash the sports nutrition products: There is no need to use sport nutrition supplements during the offseason so put these products in a box and say goodbye for a while. Rely on whole foods and adjust your timing of meals and snacks so that you can do your exercise and fun activities without consuming unnecessary calories.
- Log current daily nutrition habits: Take at least three days to keep a nutrition log. You do not need to count calories or measure volumes of foods. Neither will tell you much about your habits. Instead, note the time of day you eat along with what you eat. Here comes the more difficult part: spend a few minutes to think and write about the reasons why you are eating. As you develop awareness, you will be able to more clearly see what things are interfering with your health goals. Often times, it is not the food that is the heart of the problem. For example, you may find that stress or anxiety are what is leading you to continue with poor eating habits.
- Personal nutrition (or habit) reset: Take what you learned from tip 3 and pick one priority area to work on for at least one month. For example, if you realize you are overeating in the evenings, make this your focus area. Come up with 2-3 strategies you can employ to see what makes a positive difference. Don’t be discouraged if you do not see success overnight. Remember that some habits have been in place for a very long time and so it can take a while to have consistent success. Instead of “trial and error,” think of “trial and correction.”
- Food for fun: The offseason is an opportune time to try new foods and recipes, and get some freshness back into your daily routine. Get a new cookbook or swap ideas with a coworker or friend. Make a new recipe with your family and don’t assume your kids won’t like certain ingredients just because you don’t. Find a cooking class or food demo at your local market or restaurant. There are even great instructional videos on the Internet if you are too shy to admit you don’t know how to cook an eggplant.
These ideas are not meant to be the “cure all” for any health or nutrition problems you may be experiencing, but they can help you break you out of a rut and give you a different perspective during the offseason and where you decide to go from here.
Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD is a sport dietitian for Fuel4mance, a sports nutrition consulting company based in Colorado. She works with a diverse range of athletes, including those who have diabetes. Learn more about her at www.fuel4mance.com.