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Nutrition Education

UMD Athletes learn about cereal nutrition
July 24, 2017

Dining Services and UMD Athletics continue their partnership to incorporate lessons about healthy eating into athlete training.

Over the summer Alyssa Hammitt, Dining Services dietitian, and Meghan Deering, dietetic intern, have completed a three-part nutrition series with the Men’s Basketball team, a smoothie question and answer session with the Women’s Basketball team, and a Bulldog Bite taste test with five of the UMD athletic teams. “We are trying to reach athletes where they are and give them nutrition knowledge they can apply to their daily lives,” said Alyssa.

UMD softball players cooking

UMD student-athletes, Sam Hartmann (l) and Natalie Wright (r), stir fry veggies.

When Alyssa was hired in 2016, Donnie Hermanson, athletic trainer, reached out to Alyssa to continue and expand the recently piloted nutrition program for athletes. Donnie shared, “We wanted this partnership not only because it could help to give our athletes the edge during competition, but more importantly to help build a solid foundation of nutrition for the rest of their lives.” To date, nutrition education has been provided to eight UMD teams. Alyssa meets with teams for a three-part series which includes a nutrition presentation, grocery store tour, and cooking lesson.

“The topics of the nutrition presentation are specialized for each team. Men’s basketball learned the fundamentals of sports nutrition, while the women’s hockey team focused on recovery nutrition.  For women’s soccer, I led an interactive discussion about intuitive eating,” said Alyssa.

The basics of sports nutrition are sinking in. At the recent Bulldog Bites taste test, one athlete joked, “These plates didn’t have enough colors on them,” referencing a previous sports nutrition presentation where they learned the importance of getting at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Donnie shared, “The athletes have commented on how Alyssa explains nutrition in a way they can understand and apply to their everyday life.”

The grocery store tours provide an opportunity for athletes to ask questions about specific foods, while being able to compare the nutrition panel with other options. The cereal challenge is always a tour highlight! Athletes are asked to find a cereal with less than 10g of sugar, at least 3g of fiber, and at least 5g of protein. Pulling boxes off of the shelves, reading the nutrition panels, and being surprised by the contents has led to new cereal discoveries.

Cooking lesson favorites include smoothies, post-workout bars and bites, and microwave egg recipes. Fast, easy, and nutritious is a winning combination for UMD athletes! “Recently, an athlete told me recipes need to take less than five minutes to make,” said Meghan. Given this feedback, Alyssa and Meghan are expanding their recipe suggestions to include more quick, complete meals. Each semester they look to further develop and expand the program. This fall they are starting a monthly nutrition newsletter so athletes have access to nutrition information year-round.

As the athletes gear up for a great season, Dining Services is ready to help them fuel up for peak performance. “We will continue to work so that every student-athlete and team has the opportunity to attend one of these programs to not only help their athletic career, but their life following athletics,” said Donnie.