"Obstacles are those really frightening things that become visible when we take our eyes off our goals"
In the most basic sense of the word, food is energy. All food contains a given number of calories and calories are the fuel that powers our minds, bodies, and spirits through our busy days. But not all food calories are created equal. This is where nutrition comes into play. Nutrition is the science, or study, that deals with food and nourishment. The role of nutrition in your athletic training is so crucial that if you aren't properly fueling your body you will struggle with getting out of bed in the morning, sitting through class, and "acing" the exam you have that afternoon. Moreover, by the time you make it to practice or competition that evening, you will be in no condition to give it your best shot.
Your diet is a controllable factor that can determine whether or not you are prepared to perform at your utmost ability. Once you gain an understanding of nutrition concepts, you will be equipped to make food choices that will allow you to set yourself up for your best performance of that day. But eating healthy shouldn't be a "game-day" occasion. You must put these concepts into practice daily as nutrition makes up 60 to 80 percent of your total wellness and physical being. By applying healthy eating habits you can perform at your highest level each day, in any situation. Additionally, you decrease your risk of certain diseases including coronary heart disease, diabetes, and obesity among others. As a young athlete your most immediate benefit will be seen in your improved athletic performance.
Using the Food Guide Pyramid
Food is the energy that powers and moves you. Every food you eat has energy that is measured in calories. This is the energy you need to fuel your mind and body. Along with properly fueling your high performance machine, YOUR BODY, we must look at what foods provide those calories. Not all foods are created equal!
The Food Guide Pyramid was created to help guide people to understand how to eat healthy. A rainbow of colored, vertical stripes represents the five food groups plus fats and oils.
When you look at the picture of the Food Guide Pyramid, it should make you think of four important things.
Exercise is an important factor in any healthy lifestyle plan.
There should be variety in your food choices - a well-balanced diet means eating a variety of colorful foods from each of the food groups.
You need more of some food groups than others. For example, the orange/grain section is much larger (meaning that you need more of this type of food) than the purple/meat, beans, fish, and nuts section.
Not all foods within one food group are created equal. You can see that each colored band starts out with a wide base and moves up to a much smaller point. For example you might find a slice of apple pie in the thin part of the fruit category because while it contains fruit, it also has a lot of added sugar and fat. A whole apple, however would be found in the base of the fruit group, meaning that you could consume more of this food in an overall healthy diet.