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SF 0008: Can Athletes be PICKY EATERS?

Can Athletes be PICKY EATERS?

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The Question:

He’s a very picky eater and he doesn’t like eggs, bananas or milk. He often says he’s not hungry after practice…what can I do?

The Answer:

Hello again and welcome back to the Stay Fueled Podcast! My name is Dr. Joshua Eldridge and I am the founder of Stay Fueled. And today we have another parent question, and this one comes from Katie. And Katie says, “My son is a very picky eater. He doesn’t like eggs, bananas or milk. He often says he’s not hungry after practice.”

Hey! Thank, Katie, for your question. And yeah, we hear this a lot, picky eaters. That’s a tough one. Your athletes have to get the calories and the nutrients that they need to perform in athletics. Especially difficult ones like football, gymnastics, hockey, track. Those are high intensity, high demand sports that if our athletes don’t have the proper nutrients, they’re going to injure themselves, and we don’t want to see that happen.

So here’s the deal. In my house – I don’t know how many of you guys are going to like this philosophy or not – but in my house, if my daughter comes home and it’s gymnastics day and she hasn’t eaten her food throughout the day or let’s say she doesn’t want to eat her pre-workout snack, what I tell her is, “Hey, Breezy, you don’t have to eat your snack. You know what? That’s completely up to you. But if you don’t eat your pre-workout snack, you’re not going to gymnastics.” And I just lay it down for her that way because at some point as a parent, you’re going to have to make the hard choice, “Do I just kind of skimp on their food, on their nutrition and send them to practice anyway, or do I take an active stand to making sure they get what they need?”

So there’s going to be some of that there and that’s kind of having to play hardball with your young athlete. But as the adult, you’ve got to take that stand and know that nutrition is the most important thing for your young athlete because it’s not just about the sport that they’re going to play. It’s also about school and them developing properly because many of us are putting demands on our young athletes and we don’t even understand the consequences of overtraining and them not recovering properly. There can be effects that last many, many years if we don’t make sure that they get the proper nutrition. So there’s that.

The next thing is – so we’re going to kind of go back and talk about nutrition now instead of parenting – but try introducing him to new foods, but be patient. It takes around 20 times just trying something before people adapt to food. And that’s just being able to take it in and not even like it yet, but just be kind of accepting of it.

And then the third thing that I would put out there is once you find something that they like that’s nutritious, you may have to stick with it and just ride that horse all the way to the finish line. Make sure that you find the foods that they like. Maybe they like yoghurt and granola more than apple and it doesn’t contain any of those other things. It’s a milk product, but most kids don’t associate yoghurt with milk too much. Especially something like Greek yoghurt. You can talk about how great it is. It’s just like ice cream. And you get foods like that, something that they really like, and you can utilize that.

And you might have to utilize it all the time, but I would rather them have their caloric needs met so that they can perform in sport, be protected, go to school, have  an awesome day at school, be able to learn and maintain and develop properly as a young athlete.

So that’s my opinion on picky eaters. We have to kind of introduce them to the new stuff while giving them the calories maybe with some nutritious stuff that they like and taking a hard stance with our young athlete.

So thank you again for joining us. If you have a question for us just like Katie did, make sure you head over to our site, And on the right hand side, there’s a place where you can leave a voicemail for us. I would love to get your question and I would love to feature it right here on the Stay Fueled Podcast. That would be fantastic and I would be excited to do that.

The other thing I really recommend that you do, if you haven’t signed up for our three-part series on recovery on how to help your athlete recover like a champion and like an Olympian, then go over to our site, sign up for our email newsletter and get the three-part series on nutrition. We’re going to deliver that right to your inbox so that you can be better prepared for what your athlete is going through during their practices.

This has been the Stay Fueled Podcast. My name is Dr. Joshua Eldridge, and I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow right here on the Stay Fueled Podcast. Have an awesome day!.

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  • Katie Berryhill

    Thanks for answering my question! We’ve done the “you’re not going to practice if you don’t eat enough” bit. It tends to work, but then we’re dealing with a surly teenager. Sigh. Just found a recipe for sweet potato protein muffins that I’m going to try tonight.

    • Joshua Eldridge

      You bet Katie…and, my athletes are young and not teenagers so I’m not sure that tactic will work in 10 years! I really do applaud your courage and hard work as a mom…It’s not easy and we all need to support each other as we work hard to protect our children.

      Make sure you share the recipe if you like it! We always love new and great recipes!