Sports Nutrition For PEAK PERFORMANCE

Sports Nutrition For PEAK PERFORMANCE

Nutrition is essential for optimal performance on and off the field, fueling the body and the mind.  An effective nutrition regime is especially important for student athletes, who are still growing and developing. However, for many student athletes, nutrition takes a backseat to workouts and performance-boosting tactics, such as specialty gear and personal training programs.

Many young athletes go into their training and competition underfueled.  Just as a good work-out and training session can help a student succeed, a solid nutrition plan is an essential element for top performance and health.

Sports Nutrition for PEAK PERFORMANCE will give you the tools to fuel your body with evidence based sports nutrition guidelines. As well as answer common questions to supplementation, electrolytes, and recovery fuel.

Gluten Sensitivity or is it Fructan Intolerance?

Gluten Sensitivity or is it Fructan Intolerance?

Many people struggle with complaints of gas and bloating and while searching for relief, decide to give gluten free foods a try.  It may help alleviate your symptoms and you feel better, less bloated, less gassy, and therefore, self diagnose yourself with a gluten sensitivity.  But, is it really the gluten that is causing the uncomfortable digestive woes?  Millions of people voluntarily avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye foods like bread, cereal and pasta. Those who have celiac disease (1% of the population) MUST avoid ALL gluten due to immune damage  it causes in the small intestine, which makes them very sick.  But is it really the gluten causing all the digestive symptoms for the 12% of people reporting a gluten sensitivity?


New research from Norway suggests it’s not gluten that is causing issues for these people… it’s a FODMAP called fructan.  FODMAP is an acronym for a group of short-chained carbohydrates which are poorly digested by the human body.   FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide,Monosaccharide, And, Polyols.


Since many people can’t break down FODMAPs, these molecules remain undigested until they reach your colon. From there, the bacteria in your colon “digest” or ferment these molecules, which produces gas, and causes digestive symptoms – ouch!  Typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are now treated with the Low FODMAP diet. Symptoms of IBS include:


  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Excessive gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distention and swelling
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue


The Low FODMAP diet is also helpful for those diagnosed with SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and inflammatory bowel disease.


FRUCTANS are a FODMAP and  occur in large quantities in wheat, barley and rye, garlic, onions, chickpeas, raisins, watermelon

So what’s the problem with avoiding gluten?  There are gluten containing foods that you may be unnecessarily avoiding, such as sourdough spelt or wheat bread, as the cultures in sourdough breakdown the fructans.  We know that the microbiome in the intestine is very important for gut health.  We don’t want to unnecessarily elliminate foods that contribute to a healthy microbiome environment. The other issue is that most people with digestive issues don’t ever fully recover on a gluten-free diet. This is because FODMAPs (including fructans) are the likely culprit and gluten free is not always low in FODMAPs which is what’s actually required. The good news is the Low FODMAP diet is not meant to be followed forever!  There are 2 phases;

1). elimination phase and

2). challenge phase. 

You begin with eliminating High FODMAP foods for 4-6 weeks, if you notice a remarkable improvement, it’s time to challenge!  You will begin to see which FODMAPs are triggers and your tolerance level.  Yes, tolerance level!  That means you don’t need to follow a Low FODMAP diet indefinately.  Remember, alot of these foods contibute to good gut microbiome.  So, let’s not eliminate!  It’s about figuring out what YOUR triggers are, then finding your tolerance level.  You may tolerate a slice of wheat bread with your eggs in the morning, but have some awful digestive sympotoms after consuming a large pasta dish with a garlic sauce – that’s a no, no for me!

Consult with a Registered Dietitian prior to initiating a Low FODMAP diet or any elimination diet.  








Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Helps You Make Nutritious Food Choices and Aid in Recovery

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Helps You Make Nutritious Food Choices and Aid in Recovery

Everything you do affects your body’s ability to perform at peak efficiency including getting a good night’s sleep. By making sleep a priority, you set yourself up to get the most out of every workout and build muscle more efficiently.

Sleep Helps You Get Stronger and Faster

Many athletes are more than willing to push themselves harder in training by lifting more weight, running an extra lap, or fitting in another training session. While a good work ethic is crucial to building a strong body, you have to balance all that hard work with enough rest. Otherwise, all those extra hours training might start to work against you.

Training your body by lifting weights and running sprints wears down the muscle tissue. You get stronger when the body not only builds those muscles backup but builds them bigger and stronger. When does that important work take place? You guessed it–while you sleep. Adequate rest, including sleep, is necessary to further improve recovery and performance.

Sleep Helps You Make Nutritious Food Choices

Sleep also supports a well-balanced eating plan that includes the right amounts of protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruits. Adequate sleep helps regulate everything from food cravings to your responses to those cravings. When you are sleep deprived you are more likely to make less nutritious food choices with foods higher in fat and sugar.

Depending on your age, you should be getting anywhere from seven to tens hours of sleep every night. If you’re doing heavy physical training, you may need even more for your body to keep up with the demands you’re putting on it. Studies have shown that athletes who get more rest perform better in competitive situations. All that hard work pays off when you give your body everything it needs, including nutrtion and sleep.

How to Get More Sleep

Creating the right conditions can help you not only increase the amount of time you sleep but the quality of that sleep as well. Start by making sure you have the right mattress as an old lumpy mattress might be getting in the way of the rest you need. Your sleep might also be enhanced by finding a mattress that caters to the way you sleep–side, back, or stomach. Other ways you can enhance your sleep include:

  • A quiet, cool room. Ideal sleeping temperatures range anywhere from 65-72 degrees, but some people sleep better with it even colder.

  • Dark or dim conditions. Sleeping when it’s dark helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm. The darkness signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Blackout curtains work well for those sensitive to any light. They also help regulate the temperature of the room.

  • Skip the e-reader. Reading a book before going to sleep is a good way to help the body and mind relax. However, the bright light of an e-reader has been shown to throw off your body’s sleep cycle by making it believe it’s time to be awake. If you want to read, try a hard copy to help your body stay on schedule.

  • Clean mattress and bedding. If you wake up stuffy, you may need to clean your mattress. Dust and skin cells can build up and interrupt your sleep by causing allergies. Wash your sheets and mattress cover regularly. Be sure to vacuum your mattress every few months.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep!

Holiday Stress Getting You Down?

Holiday Stress Getting You Down?

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year.   Unfortunately, the holiday season can also be the most stressful time of year..  As your December calender fills up with shopping, school concerts, holiday parties, cookie swaps, dinners and worry about budgets, it can be very stressful leading up to the final enjoyment of the holiday season.  With all the excitement and booked schedules, self care often takes a back seat.

Tips for Self Care this Holiday Season

1.  Be in the moment – Try not to think about the next thing you need to do and enjoy this moment right now!  

2.  Lists!  I am a big fan of lists.   Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, I break out the paper and pen and make a list.  It helps me organize all my to do’s and nothing feels as good as checking each item off the list!

3.  Take the time to fuel well – Knowing this time of year includes many idulgences, does not mean you need to forget all about fueling yourself with nourishing foods.  Continue to eat balanced meals and snacks w/ protein, fiber, and healthy fats.  This will keep your energy level up and prevent overindulgences.  

4.  Take time for you – If you can’t fit in a full workout, then fit in a mini workout!  20 minutes of movement; walk, yoga, HITT, spinning, or running will help decrease stress, aid in digestion, and boost your mood.  I treat my self-care as a selfless act, because I know when I am taken care of,  I can take better care of those around me.

5.  Learn to say no – To maintain balance during the holiday season, you may need to say yes to some and no to others.  You will feel better to commit and show up versus canceling as you took on too much.  

Don’t let the stress get you down.  This should be the time of year to slow down and enjoy time with friends and family.  Prioritize your time, take time for you, practice gratitude.  Those who practice making time for themselves, have improved health, less anxiety, and are more optimistic.  This holiday season is the perfect opportunity to experience the joy of gratitude and self care!  

Wishing you a Very Happy Holiday and a Healthy New Year!

Building Better Nutrition 

Gingerbread Granola

Gingerbread Granola

Chicken Fajitas with Mango Cucumber Salsa

Chicken Fajitas with Mango Cucumber Salsa

An Athletes Secret – Binge Eating Disorder

An Athletes Secret – Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder – A compulsive drive to eat and continue eating well beyond feeling full and consuming ~3,000 – 6,000 calories in one sitting, usually alone.  Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S., effecting 8 million Americans, yet it is the least talked about.  There is alot of misconception and stigma when it comes to binge eating;  it is not a true eating disorder, no willpower,  lack of control, or that you have to be living in a larger body.  

Eating disorders do not discriminate.  Athletes are especially at a high risk for developing eating disorders due to the natural pressure they face in their sport.  Middle school, high school, collegiate, weekend warriors, or professional athletes are all at a high risk of developing an eating disorder which gentics and environment plays a role.  Athletes in asthetic sports are at an even higher risk; ballet, long distance running, wrestling, swimming, gymnastics. 

At a high level of training, athletes often follow a strict diet.  Any type of restrictive eating, even unintentional, can backfire and increase the urge to binge.  A binge is much different than overeating or emotional eating.  Having a large bowl of ice cream after a tough day is an example of emotional eating, while consuming a half gallon of ice cream then moving on to a box of cookies can be an example of a binge.  Binge eating disorders are reoccuring and on average lasts at least once per week for 3 months of consuming an excessively large amount of food in a short period of time and is characterized by experiencing a lack of control and significant distress among binge eating.  While overeating is a challenge for many Americans, recurrent binge eating is much less common and much more severe.  Atletes with binge eating disorder are at a high risk for injury, poor recovery, poor performance, and psychological problems.  

It is often difficult to identify an athlete with binge eating disorder, as their weight is often  at a healthy weight.  But, they may start to socially isolate themselves from food events, skip meals, or overtrain to compensate for their binge.  Family members and roommates may notice large amounts of food disappearing or empty containers pushed to the bottom of the trash.  Remember, people with binge eating disorder are ashamed and feel they have no self control.  Coaches who are in frequent contact with athletes may notice signs of an eating disorder as well. 

5Warning Signs:

 1.  Eating too little in front of others.

2.  Training to hard and excessive.

3.  Increased focus on weight, shape, size, and appearance.

4.  Stress fractures and overuse injuries.

5.  Missing large quatities of food.

It is important to have a discussion with an athlete who is showing signs of an eating disorder such as binge eating.  It is imperative an athlete receive the treatment they need for support and recovery.   If you know an athlete exhibiting any of these signs, it is best to seek help from a Registered Dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition and eating disorders to help the athlete build better relationships with food and their bodies.  

Thanksgiving with an Eating Disorder

Thanksgiving with an Eating Disorder

Thanksgiving, a time to give thanks for all you have and enjoy the day eating delious food with loved ones. Sounds good, right? This holiday can act as a huge trigger and bring alot of anxiety to those suffering with an eating disorder. The entire day is allegedly built upon the foundation of food. The expectation is to eat, A LOT! 

For the many struggling with eating disorders, this day can be very overwhelming; eating off schedule, eating risk foods, food prepared by others, worrying about what and how much they eat before the holiday even started.  Then add the stress of being “watched” by family members.  And of course there is always diet or weight talk by some relative!  “I’ve gained 20lb this year, starting new with my diet after the holidays”, “I’ve been eating so good all week so I can indulge today”, “I’m starting my 3 day cleanse tomorrow”, “You look so skinny have you been eating”?  There always seems to be some kind of conversation regarding weight, diet, and exercise.  I’ve heard it in my family as well, and I quickly give the evil eye and change the subject.  Nope, sorry, I will not allow this conversation in front of my chidren or be the topic of conversation on a day I am looking to relax and be thankful for all we have.  In fact, I will not engage in fat talk or the latest diet trends anytime!

Take the focus off the food, calories, and weight.  Enjoy being with family and friends and take pleasure in honoring your hunger with nourishing foods as you should any day of the year.  

Tips to Survive Thanksgiving for those with eating disorders or disordered eating:

1.  Steer Clear of  Negative Body Talk!  Don’t allow others to make comments about how bad or good they’re being, how they need to work off the food tomorrow, or how they worked out this am to stuff themselves.  When others start using negative body talk, shift the conversation!   Let’s talk about what we are grateful for.

2.  Don’t Restrict!  Restricting before a holiday meal is a sure way to lead to a binge.  Eat a balanced breakfast and premeal snack.  People talk about Thanksgiving dinner like it’s the last meal.  But, there are no rules stating you have to eat yourself to the brim.  Eat as if it is any other day.  

3. Honor Your Hunger and Fullness.  Allow yourself to eat when feeling hungry and listen to your body when it say’s you have had enough.  You do not need to eat it all today, as you can have some again tomorrow.

4.  Partner Up!  Have someone to lean on that truley understands what you are going through.  Either someone physically there or someone you can call or text.  Step away and use your coping strategies.

5.  Affirmations!  Put an end to the  negative thoughts and replace with positive affirmations, “Food is not the enemy, it is nuturing and healing”, “I am strong, fierce, and brave”, “I am worthy of love from myself”.

6.  Forget The All or Nothing Mindset.  Depriving yourself of special holiday foods or feeling guilty over a food choice is not helpful.  Listen and be in tune with what your body wants and needs.

7.  Remember the Reason for the Season.  Although it seems Thanksgiving is all about food, try to remember what it is really about.  Focus on what you are grateful for and honor your journey to recovery by eating foods you want, listening to your body’s cues, keeping your support system close by, and avoid engaging in “fat talk”. 

Remember, the food you eat and your size does NOT define you or your worth.  Enjoy the day and have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!  – Suzanne Iovanni, Building Better Nutrition

Orthorexia:  When Healthy Eating Makes You Sick

Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Makes You Sick

A preoccupation with healthy eating can lead to a form of dysfunctional eating called orthorexia. It is on the rise and the athletic population is at a higher risk. The condition starts as an innocent attempt to improve nutrition and/or performance.  Yet, it often leads to elimination of too many foods or food groups, labeling food as good or bad, clean, pure, or correct.

Can healthy eating really be a problem and turn against you?  If it becomes an unhealthy obsession that impacts one’s social life, self-esteem, and anxiety, then yes, it can be a problem!  ‘Ortho’ means correct and ‘rexia’ means desire.  In other words, a desire to be correct.

In our current food-obsessed culture, it can be a slippery slope with healthy eating.  All sorts of people (non-nutrition experts) are pushing fad diets, cleanses, fasts, sugar-free, flour-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, you’ve heard it all, right?  When someone needs to follow a restricted diet due to health or multiple food allergies, they are followed by a registered dietitian to ensure adequate nutrition intake.  But, when you log on to social media and keep seeing posts or articles from non-nutrition experts putting the fear of food on you and making you feel bad for eating a processed food, or asking you to spends lots of money on a special supplement or drink (which is processed by the way), don’t listen, just delete.  

Many of my clients suffer from orthorexia, although they may look happy on the outside, they are hurting on the inside.  I met with a teen yesterday, whom  I’ve been working with for the past few years.  Although he continues to struggle with some anxiety and negative thoughts around food, he is recovering from orthorexia.  He is a bright, athletic, popular teen and he stated to me that he would have full blown panic attacks if asked to eat a homemade cookie.   He was at his lowest point when his orthorexia was high, he socially isolated himself from friends, avoided doing things he loved if it involved eating away from home.  He did not enjoy holidays due to the high anxiety he would have from eating non-pure foods or foods prepared from someone else.  I am happy to say he has worked very hard and has been persistent at fighting this disorder!  

Recovery from orthorexia does not mean you can not eat healthy, nourishing foods.  You will still heat healthy, but the difference will be your understanding of what healthy eating is.  You will realize that food will not make you a better person and you will not base your self-esteem on the quality of your diet.   

If you find yourself tying one fad diet to the next, or find yourself with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating, please seek help by a registered dietitian who specializes in disordered eating.  Orthorexia is a serious disordered eating pattern that can have mental and physical health consequences.  You may know alot about food and food science, but the information you receive may not always be accurate as the information may come from non-reputable sources.  When following social media, look for nutrition advice from qualified nutritionists.  




What is Intuitive Eating?

What is Intuitive Eating?

Forget the rules, restrictions, and control!  Intuitive eating is an approach developed to help people heal from the side effects of dieting.  We are born as intuitive eaters, it isn’t until rules and restrictions (DIETS) are set around food that we lose our inner intuitive eater.  Diets often result in repercussions – labeling food as good and bad, restriction leading to binging, feelings of failure if you eat a “bad” food. An intuitive eater honors their hunger, respects fullness, and enjoys the pleasure of eating.  Listen – really listen.  Focus on the diverse, delicious, nutritious foods you CAN have, rather than what a diet tells you, you can’t have!  When you eat nutrient dense whole foods, focus on how well you feel and realize you deserve to feel like the best version of yourself! Be kind and nurture yourself.  Eat well to feel well and this will inspire you to exercise and motivate you to sleep soundly.  It’s a journey to get back to intuitive eating and it starts with rejecting diet mentality and make peace with food by allowing unconditional permission to enjoy and eat all kinds of food. The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

  1. Reject Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise – Focus on How You Feel
  10. Honor Your Health

Let’s build BETTER NUTRITION not perfect nutrition.

Reference:  Intuitive Eating by E. Tribole and E. Resch.

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