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Feeding those hungry, growing bodies

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Are you doing anything specific with regard to feeding your gymnast?

I was wondering if you encourage them to eat differently on training and non-training days. For those of us who have a long travel time to get home after training sessions, how do you handle feeding them - a meal in the car, or a snack to hold them until you get home?

Have you ever looked at how many grams of protein, carbs etc that they are eating on a daily basis or do you just supply each meal with some of all the food groups?

I am just a bit concerned about the training of such young bodies and how much they should be eating in order to make sure that all the internal organs/bones (and other stuff that you cant see) have enough nutrition to develop correctly. There does not seem much on the internet. If you have any information, could you please let me know? Do your gyms/coaches give you any information or literature when you join?

JBS posted an article from Gatorade in Feb 2006 (dont know how to link to it, sorry) but I have not seen anything else on this subject.
 
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Billy

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I am certainly no role-model for good nutrition but I try to make sure my kids eat well. They have a banana with their breakfast every morning. Even if they have nothing else, they must have a banana and milk. They usually have fruit and yogurt or cheese with their lunch, and again, a glass of milk. They have a snack in the afternoon, from a relatively healthy selection (NutriGrain bars, fruit snacks, apples, graham crackers, etc) and milk with dinner. They also have a vitamin every day.

On practice days, I pack a lunch box for DD with lots of finger foods like strawberries, apple slices, cheese, etc. although I do also let her have those peanut butter and cheese crackers, too. She eats several things as snack on the way to practice and she has the rest on the way home as dinner.

We haven't received any nutritional information from the gym. I just use what I know to try and give them healthy meals. My kids aren't big on vegetables so we have lots of fruits. I also make sure they have plenty of milk (strong bones, you know) and dairy products. And we limit things like breads and sweets. Sweet snacks are only for desert after lunch or dinner and is usually something like two cookies.

Anyway, like I said, I'm no expert but I hope this helps.
 

MdGymMom01

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Mar 5, 2008
2,236
North America
Hmmm, I think common sense should be used here. My dd has been doing competitive sports for the past 3 years and I haven't had a specific diet for her. I give her the basic everyday healthy foods for a well balanced diet and supplement with a little extra protien and lots of fruits and veggies. On practice days I make sure she has plenty of water to drink. The snacks and sweets I let her have as a dessert or a treat but I never forbid her from eating anything. I think labeling foods as "off limits" only creates cravings for these later in life. MODERATION is key with anything. If I laid out a spread of fruits, veggies and dip, cheese, cookies, cakes and chips, she would go for the fruits and veggies first, then maybe hit the snacks after. That is just the way that I have raised her--give her different choices and options and she will usually go for the healthy stuff.
 
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flippymonkeysmom

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I try really hard to follow a whole food approach. The more times a food is processed, the less nutrition it has. I know a lot of people do power bars and stuff - to me they are just chemicals though. My dd naturally craves protein so she eats chicken, fish, peanut butter, etc. I make sure she eats as many fruits and veggies as I can get her to eat. I have always been a bit of a nutrition freak - so we also tend to do organic milk, whole food based vitamins, etc. Don't get me wrong - they also have their fair share of junk too - I just really try to make sure they get as much nutrition as possible from natural sources.
 

mariposa

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I have worried about this as well, mostly because my DD is already on the thin side. We try to eat good healthy food most of the time, though we do have junk food sometimes. I always pack a healthy snack for her to eat during her break and at home I just offer healthy food choices. She has never been on to eat a lot, so I try to make sure what she does eat is healthy. I also make her shakes sometimes, usually banana or strawberry, with milk and sometimes some coconut or flaxseed oil. Or add a small amount of vanilla protein powder I use for my breakfast smoothies. She also takes a daily vitamin.
 

CHSgymnast16

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May 3, 2008
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OHIO
This coming from a gymnast... I am always hungry after practice:D. I have to say that it is very important that I drink a lot of water before practice and drink it periodically during practice to keep my 'insides' cool. After, I usually drink like a gatorade or something. I tend to eat more whole foods like whole grain bread and fresh fruits and veggies to satisfy my hunger. Almonds are good too. I also take a vitamin. I eat a lot of protein, but I usually eat more of the poultry group than red meat. It is important, however, that I eat red meat to prevent fatigue. I also eat smaller portions more often. I probably eat around 6-7 meals a day. I hope that helps! Oh yeah and one of my favorite indulgences as a 'treat' is dark chocolate... Full of antioxidants and a great alternative to milk chocolate. The darker the better :).
 
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starmaker

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Well as for me nutrition has always been important. Besides the obvious healthy foods option I give my children I also give them a juice called Mona Vie. Has anyone ever heard of it? It has many wonderful healthy components. First of all it is really high in antioxidants, and Omega 3 which help with chronicle inflammation. Chronic inflammation has to do with everything from headaches to weight management to fatigue. It has helps with muscle recovering and flexibility. I have been drinking it for about a year and have never felt better. No more headaches, back aches, sleep issues, low stamina, even sickness such as the common cold are gone.

My dds also drink it every day and I also give Olivia an extra shot before practice. It helps with stamina, energy, etc. I think if you are interested you can look it up. here's the web site: www.monavie.com

Hope this helps someone, like it's help my family.

Janelle
 

azgymrats

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Apr 11, 2008
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My dd has gymnastics right after school. She has enough time for a snack in the car on the way there. I always bring her a protein filled snack such as raw almonds and a few strawberries, yogurt, pb & honey sandwich or a kashi bar. I also do the same for after long practices. I give her a snack to tide her over for dinner. I have no idea what we will do once she is in the gym at dinner time and doesnt come home until late. I guess I will pack her a meal to eat there? The older team girls tell me that if they eat too much before practice they feel really sick. My dd doesnt eat any differently on gym days than not. She eats alot of raw fruit and veggies as snacks. My dds love meat, but we try and eat alot of beans and other sources of protein.
 

Monkeygirlsmom

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Feb 10, 2007
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my girls do eat there junk food!! but in major moderation!! I dont ever want to not let them have it or they will over do it!! I just try to have helathy foods to snack on!! and they like to eat granola bars on the way home after practce etc!!
but I make sure they learn the importance of a healthy over all diet!! I make sure they realise how much better there bodies feel when they yummy healthy foods!!
I do not keep track of what they eat other than make sure they have the foods that are good for them around ad not Junk!! but I will let them have the cookie when they are done with there meals etc!!
 
We do follow a healthy eating pattern (with the occasional fish & chips or Mac D meal every 2 months or so).

I worry when they are doing about 20 hours a week if their bodies are actually getting enough of the essential "building blocks".

We have to take a packed lunch to school and a snack for about 11 am so her day's food usually consists of:

07:30 cereal with milk (4x a week) or bacon and eggs on toast (3 x a week)
11:00 fruit or carrot/cucumber sticks
12:30 sandwich (ham usually) fruit, treat (eg small cake which I bake), piece of chicken, yoghurt drink
15:00 school ends
15:30 meal with protein (chicken, fish, meat) veg (x2) and starch (potato, pasta etc)

then off to gym (not every day, tho)

She gets home from gym fairly late so sometimes has an omelette or a bowl of cereal - something easy to digest with a glass of milk before bed.

She tends to snack on fruit when hungry and also drinks appropriate amounts of liquid depending on exercise/temperature etc.

I just feel that I have no idea what is actually going on "inside" and want to know if she is having enough for her age/size/exercise level so that she does not deplete reserves at all.

Gymnasts do seem to reach puberty later - due to the on average lower levels of body fat % (I have read) but what about other organs?

There seems to be very little written about feeding young athletes. I was hoping some of the coaches would have more insight into this subject.
 

gymgymgymnast08

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Well I'm a gymnast and i'm constantly eating. Its kinda bad. But like If I haven't eaten for like 2 hours I'm hungry. And I eat a lot of junk too. But i run along with all the stuff we do at gymnastics. I eat like a huge snack before gymnastics. I don't drink anything really during practice cuz then I'd be in the bathroom the whole practice and my coaches wouldn't like that. Then after I'm usually not that hungry but my mom makes me eat anyway. Yeah i have really bad eating habits I no
 

catesmom

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Nov 9, 2007
220
Illinois
Nothing really off-limits to my dd's either. But they both tend to choose veggies and fruits as snacks. DD1 is nuts about blueberries and strawberries so thats one of her favorites. She comes home from school and typically makes herself a snack or small meal. I have to admit she loves ravioli. She takes healthy snacks with her to the gym, we always prepare these in the morning. She doesn't really get a long break at her 4 hour practice, but she usually eats something just to tide her by. And she has to drink a lot of water or she tends to get headaches if she is dehydrated.

Once a week the girls get to choose what we would call junk, usually on tuesdays because I work until 8pm. The rest of the days I make dinner for her when she comes home. If I'm off work early it's something homemade, tonight it's meatloaf, her favorite. Always a starch, rice or potatoes and at least 2 veggies. Today because it is fresh in my mind, she made herself a small strawberry shortcake, (a slice of angel food cake with some fresh sliced stawberries and yes a spoon of coolwhip:D On busy nights it's something like a baked chicken breast stuffed with broccoli, a starch and our two veggies. If she is over-tired or not hungry sometimes she chooses a hearty soup and salad when she gets home, she likes Progresso best because they typically have so many veggies in them.

For snack she made a packet of couscous which she will share with her teammates, it's one of their fav's. And a good dinner when she comes home. Meatloaf, potatoes, carrots, asparagas, and a salad. She eats constantly but her activity level is so high you could never tell, she has a trim build and I am especially careful to not make a big deal out of what she eats. So long as her choices continue to be balanced for the most part, and she stays strong, I have nothing to say. My girls both really prefer homecooked meals, when we are on vacation they can't wait to get back to regular meals. They are also meat lovers and broiled beef or chicken is their first choice.
 
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