Tailgate Pre-Season is Here, Rev-Up On Healthy Tips With Sports Nutritionist, Caitlin Petit
‘Pre-Season’ is just around the corner. College athletes from throughout the country will be reporting to their official team sports fields. High school athletes at local schools will resume with strenuous daily training, player development, hard work disciplines. All athletes will be paying close attention to nutrition for optimal performance readying for the fall sports season ahead.
For parents, ‘Pre-Season’ means some thought and hard work readying in the preparation of the once or twice weekly Team Family Tailgates following the sports events over the next few months of the season.
Besides cleaning coolers, grills and assorted equipment, Menu Preparation is also in order.
Today, Sports Nutritionist, Caitlin Petit of the Summit Sports Training Center in Villanova, PA plays in on the Team Family Tailgate with some of her own personal experiences as well as ideas encouraging the healthiest benefits to the players and their families. Of course, Caitlin also provides a recipe favorite, No Bake Chocolate Nutty Bars, a healthy treat for rewarding the success of the day.
Petit, a former Lacrosse Player competing in four NCAA Final Four Tournaments for West Chester University has always found inspiration and commitment to the health and nutritional aspects surrounding athletics and holds a Bachelor’s Degrees in both Exercise Science, and Nutrition and Dietetics along with a Master’s in Nutrition Education.
Petit explains that every athlete has specific needs related to their physiology in the science of nutrition. ” Optimizing performance through nutrition can even depend on the type of sport played, the level of play, even the position athletes play on a team can require specific needs,” she said.
So how about about Team Family Tailgating? How can families maximize the needed nutrition at Tailgate meals following a sporting event, especially since this is a community event offered to suit a large group? “Actually when it comes to Tailgating,” said Petit, “maximizing nutritional needs at the Post game is really easy to achieve simply by providing a broad range of balanced dishes and targeting the common basic principles among the food groups, proteins with carbs while offering a variety of fruits and vegetables.”
Fondly remembering Team Family Tailgates from her college athletic days playing Lacrosse, Caitlin does not hesitate to include her own fond memories and the sincere appreciation players always have from among the many parents consistently providing dishes throughout the seasonal sports season. “We got to know all of the parents on our team and their specialty dishes too,” she said “and we would always look forward to regularly seeing them and some of their specialties which became our favorite dishes on the Tailgate Table.”
“We also loved the ‘Takeaway Bags’ on Games where we would travel on the bus,” continued Caitlin. ‘Takeaway Bags,’ also a part of the Tailgate tradition, involves providing assorted foods packaged together for each of the athletes to snack on during the travel circuit. Petit thinks that these are best when filled with lots of flavorful yet healthy snacks. Some ideas for the ‘Takeaway Bags’ include homemade granola, nuts, dried fruits, sturdier fresh fruits as oranges, bananas, apples, and one of Petit’s personal favorites included anything that could be dipped with fruits, vegetables, crackers, or pretzels such as Peanut Butter cups, even cheese.
So what does Sports Nutritionist, Caitlin Petit recommend among the food groups as the best Team Family Tailgate dishes on the seasonal sports table? For one, foods that contain protein, assisting in muscle recovery, foods such as those found hot off the grill, the burgers, chicken, or veggie burgers for vegetarians among the team. Next, Caitlin suggests that table set-up is important, especially if your team arrives at the table before the grilled foods are ready, “there should always be something quick and easy that is healthy to snack on until the food is ready, foods such as a fresh fruit bowl, or fresh vegetables with a dip.” Petit said. These foods can also help to sustain players who might need a few minutes to rest before diving into a meal.
Petit believes the most important aspect of the Team Family Tailgate table is providing a good balance of healthy foods and understands that many people also enjoy a little bit of sweet dessert too but promotes a healthier option as the recipe provided today with the Chocolate Nutty Bars.”We had a couple of favorite dessert specialties at our Tailgates prepared by some of the moms on our lacrosse team and we used to look forward to them, beyond that, too many desserts, particularly anything processed is just not good for anyone.” She said. Besides then, Caitlin shares her once firsthand sports experience following an overload of sweets among she and fellow teammates ending with “well, too many desserts either in the ‘Takeaway Bag’ or on the Tailgate Table can just really make players feel a bit sick.”
There are some facets of food following training or games that is generally most commonly known such as not overloading on carbohydrates that could play a toll on the digestive tract, incurring too much fiber in the system all at once. Still, Petit concurs that among the many Tailgates she is familiar, most parents of college athletes already know how to prepare healthy foods for athletes and the athletes already have the built in structure and training knowledge on what best food choices are.
And for high school Tailgates? Petit, who is familiar with training high school athletes readying toward college level play suggests that coordinators on high school Tailgates should always provide a selection of healthy foods following sporting events, even when students are going home after the game.
Topping Petit’s list on the High School Tailgates priorities is limiting the selection of sweets and desserts, particularly those processed, and offering hydration drinks that do not contain sugar, offering plain water, or electrolyte enhanced water in coolers.
Creating a winning Tailgate, just like ‘Pre-Season’ involves hard work and preparation but making it easier is knowing that providing a balance from among a broad variety of offerings on the Tailgate Table offers the maximum nutritional benefits for Players, Coaches, Staff, Families and Fans alike. Have a great season ahead. Go Team!