Health and Safety Resources

 Healthy Recipes for Athletes with Dairy, Soy, and Gluten Restrictions
(8/25/2022)
 
   

Healthy Recipes for Athletes with Dairy, Soy, and Gluten Restrictions


Recipes for snacks and meals that are soy, dairy, and gluten-free


It can be hard to make meals that are healthy and satisfying for athletes with certain food restrictions. But with a bit of prep and pre-planning, you can easily have snacks and meals on hand that are soy, dairy, and gluten-free.

TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian and the owner of Elite Nutrition and Performance, has a few easy recipes to try.

Coconut Yogurt Parfait
Layer yogurt-berries-granola-yogurt-berries-granola into a bowl or glass for breakfast, or into a container for your athlete to bring to school for a quick lunch.

Coconut yogurt is a great option for athletes who can’t eat dairy, but if your athlete isn’t restricted to dairy-free options, Greek yogurt is a great source of protein. In general, avoid yogurts that are packed with added sugars. Ideally, get a plain yogurt that’s unflavored, then add your own sweetener with a bit of honey or maple syrup and a splash of vanilla extract.

Berries: Let your athlete choose their favorite berries. Blueberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries tend to be the heavy favorites in parfaits, but if your athlete prefers chunks of kiwi instead, go for it! An easy option for busy parents is to buy frozen mixed berries, then prep the parfait the day before, so the berries have time to defrost in the fridge. Frozen berries can actually be better because the juices tend to run more and blend the whole parfait together.

Granola: To add more satiating carbohydrates and satisfying crunch, you can buy gluten-free granola, or easily make homemade gluten-free granola with under 10 minutes of prep. If you do want to make your own, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a bowl, combine gluten-free oats with a drizzle of maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a dash of salt, and any chopped nuts that your athlete enjoys. Mix together until the oats stick together with that maple syrup. Spread the mixture thinly out on parchment paper, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the granola is dry and can easily be pushed around the pan. After baking, you can add in any dried fruit that your athlete enjoys too. You can do this once a week and have tasty homemade granola for days!

Even easier: Forget making granola, and instead just cook up some gluten-free instant oatmeal with a splash of almond milk, a spoonful of peanut butter, a sliced-up banana, some mixed berries, and a dash of maple syrup.

Build-Your-Own Rice Bowl
For lunches, rather than trying to recreate a grilled cheese sandwich for your gluten or dairy-free athlete, why not opt for something that’s easier to meal prep once a week, and doesn’t require any substitutions? Rice bowls are perfect for parents making lunches for multiple kids, since they can be made in bulk and stored in the fridge for a few days, and they’re easy to tailor to picky tastes. They’re also a fun meal to meal-prep on a weekend, since you can get your kids involved in the process. Have them help prep the ingredients, then build their own bowls. Start with a base of brown or multigrain rice for a complex carbohydrate that will leave them feeling full throughout the day.

Add your protein: this could be beans, grilled chicken, canned salmon, or tuna—whatever protein your athlete enjoys.

Add vegetables: opt for fresh or sautéed vegetables. Peppers and onions that are quickly sautéed make a great fajita-style bowl, while spinach, arugula, and romaine can add a nice crunch. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers are also nice additions.

Add crunch, zest, and fun: Some fun topping ideas can include chopped nuts, crushed tortilla chips, avocado slices or guacamole, pickled jalapeños, and cheese or vegan cheese.

Make your side dressing: A small container with salsa or their topping of choice can be stored separately to prevent everything from becoming soggy.

A few simple dinner ideas
Sometimes, thinking about cooking gluten and dairy-free for dinner can feel overwhelming, but really, it doesn’t have to be. Most meals can easily be tweaked to avoid gluten, soy, and dairy if you’re cooking at home. In fact, a gluten-free athlete in the house can actually be a benefit because it forces you to get a bit more creative with vegetables and alternatives to bread and pasta. Ziesmer recommends:

1. Grilled chicken with plain Italian seasoning and salt and pepper with roasted broccoli and a baked potato (the potato and broccoli can be chopped, sprinkled with olive oil, and wrapped in foil, then tossed on the grill for a meal that requires almost no cleanup)

2. Gluten-free spaghetti with meat sauce (just hold the parmesan!) 

3. Breakfast for dinner with a veggie scramble. First, chop up a potato or sweet potato and put into a covered pan on medium with some olive oil and a bit of water to create steam for faster cooking. Then, chop up the veggies that are wilting away in your fridge—things like peppers, spinach, onions, zucchini—and once the potatoes have started to soften up, add the veggies to the pan. Once the vegetables are soft and wilted, crack eggs over top and scramble as needed. You don’t need milk to make a great scramble! Scoop onto plates and season with salt, pepper, and maybe a bit of chili or oregano for a small kick.

Takeaway
Rather than constantly trying to replace dairy, soy, and gluten with processed options like vegan cheese or gluten-free pasta, opt for simple whole foods and meals that skip those ingredients altogether when possible. Making your own allergen-free options, like a gluten-free granola, not only avoids added sugars and processing, it also allows you to create combinations that your athlete will love. And it doesn’t have to take much time!




TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 Coach’s Mental Health: How to Set Healthy Boundaries as a Coach
(7/28/2022)
 
   

Coach’s Mental Health: How to Set Healthy Boundaries as a Coach


Helping coaches understand how to set—and stick to—boundaries with athletes, parents, administrators, and even with themselves.


Creating strong boundaries is an important and often overlooked piece of the coaching dynamic. A lack of boundaries can not only impact a team’s success, but also lead a coach to experience burnout and negative mental health effects. Here, TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, is helping coaches understand how to set—and stick to—boundaries with athletes, parents, administrators, and even with themselves.

Why does a coach need to think about their boundaries?
As a coach, a lot is expected of you. But of course, you aren’t only a coach...you likely have many other responsibilities in your life. “Ultimately, coaches have lives, they have families, they have spouses, they have their own spiritual lives, and they often even have other full-time jobs outside of the sport,” says Chapman. “Like athletes need to be able to leave a bad practice or game on the field and move on, coaches need to be able to step away from the team as well. When coaches don't set healthy boundaries, that can create emotional dysregulation as well as strife within the team. And in many ways, it can create a negative relationship that affects performance.”

How to set boundaries with your team
A healthy coach-athlete relationship is one that is well-defined and has specific boundaries. Many student athletes unfortunately put their coaches in an almost parent-like role in their lives, but that can be problematic for many reasons. “Oftentimes, we have unrealistic expectations for coaches, because in many ways, people expect coaches to parent their kids. But coaches aren't responsible for that. Coaches are responsible for enhancing the development of the student athlete by teaching them discipline, camaraderie, teamwork, and communication, which are those skills that they won't learn necessarily in other settings. And that's why being an athlete is so incredibly rewarding: If you have the right coaches, you learn those things.”

However, that doesn’t mean responding to emails from athletes at 3 a.m. or talking to teachers about getting athletes extensions on papers they haven’t done. Make sure athletes know what they can expect from you, and keep those expectations the same for the entire team. No one athlete should get special treatment or extra allowances from you.

How to set boundaries with parents
This can be really hard to navigate, Chapman admits. Some parents want to be involved with a team for good reasons and with the best intentions, but it’s better to set a blanket boundary for parents rather than allowing some to participate and not others. “Draw a line in the sand about the boundaries that you will maintain throughout the season with parents as it relates to interacting with you as the coach on an individual level, as well as their interactions with players, parents, and officials,” says Chapman. Start each season by informing parents of your boundaries for them: Can they be at practice? What do you expect them to do on competition days? Should they email you about their athlete?

How to set boundaries with administration
“Coaches have a really delicate interplay with school administration, since the administration is responsible for their livelihood, but the coach might also be the mediator between the administration and a student, or administration and a parent,” says Chapman. To create boundaries and consistency, consider having all the coaches at your school or within your club get together to create a set of ideal boundaries between yourselves and the administration and present them as a united front.

For school coaches, this could include establishing your ability to bench or suspend any athlete for misconduct. This might help if, for example, you have to bench your star player for skipping too many practices, but he gets reinstated by the school administrator who wants the team to win the statewide championship. “Things like that undermine a coach’s authority and can lead to burnout or worse,” says Chapman.

How to set boundaries with your own goals
It might sound strange to set boundaries around yourself, but when it comes to goal-setting, you do need to set some healthy expectations around performance and outcomes. If you don’t create a boundary between how the team performs and your personal goals for coaching, you’ll often end up frustrated and/or putting too much pressure on yourself or the team.

“As a coach, your goals shouldn’t be focused on the team’s outcomes in competition,” Chapman says. “Instead, coaches need to set goals that show that their coaching is working and improving. This might include practical process goals like boosting percentages of shots made in a game, but it can also include things like communicating your emotions effectively as a coach and helping your players do the same. A process goal for that could be deciding that at least once in every single team meeting, you ask athletes, ‘What is an emotion you experienced today at practice? How did you respond?’” Make sure that your goals enhance team culture and help your athletes develop as both athletes and humans. It’s also beneficial to communicate these goals to others, especially administration, to ensure that your values are aligned.

Owning your mistakes

As a coach, ensuring that your athletes don’t view you as an infallible, always-perfect person is important for both their wellbeing and your own. It’s tempting to set up a boundary that blocks athletes from seeing any part of you that’s imperfect, but that kind of boundary isn’t healthy for anyone. “Know when you need to show your athletes that you’ve messed up, since that lets them see it’s okay to make mistakes and that it’s important to own those mistakes,” Chapman says. “It’s also important to know when to apologize, and when to let athletes know you’re struggling.”

Of course, this is context dependent: You likely don’t need to apologize to your kindergarten soccer team for a call you made that caused them to lose the game. But you could explain a mistake you made in designing a play to your high school football team.

The importance of sticking to your boundaries
Boundaries only work when they’re clearly defined and respected—most importantly, when they’re respected by you. It’s tempting to allow for exceptions, such as a late night call with your star athlete who’s going through a tough time, but that doesn’t do you or your team any favors in the long run.

Takeaway
As a coach, it may feel like you struggle to find the right boundaries, and to maintain them. But by setting clear boundaries and expectations early, you’re not only helping yourself and your mental health, you’re helping your team members, parents, and school administration.



TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 6 Healthy Snacks to Keep in Your Sport Locker
(7/14/2022)
 
   

6 Healthy Snacks to Keep in Your Sport Locker


Here are six snacks options that are shelf-stable, energy-packed, and tastebud-approved.


As an athlete, it’s recommended that you eat every three hours throughout the day, so it’s important to find snacks that travel easily, offer the right nutrients, and actually taste good, too. When it comes to nutrition, the goal is to find snacks that fill you up and keep you energized through an optimal blend of mostly carbohydrates, plus some protein and fat to help you feel satisfied for longer.

Here are six snacks options that are shelf-stable, energy-packed, and tastebud-approved.

1. Trail Mix
Trail mix is the easiest shelf-stable snack that can hit all the right notes: sweet and salty, plus a great macro and micro-nutrient nutritional profile for a busy athlete. Even better, it can be easily stored, transported, and eaten anywhere.

Here are a few of our favorite ingredients to include to maximize satiety and taste:

● Protein/Fat: Nuts and seeds are your best friends for protein and fat, and will help you feel full for longer. Walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and almonds are all great options here. The more varieties you include, the better, since each nut and seed has a slightly different micronutrient profile.
● Carbohydrate: Depending on what you prefer, add carb-based options like raisins, dried goji berries, dried cranberries, banana chips, chocolate chips, Chex mix, and pretzels. You don’t need to add M&Ms to make a trail mix that contains carbs, though there’s nothing wrong with sprinkling a few in!

2. Granola Bars (done right)
Granola bars are obviously the easiest shelf-stable and locker-friendly go-to, but be careful when choosing one. Some granola bars actually have more sugar than a candy bar! Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietitian, suggests checking the nutrition facts label and looking for granola bars that have less than 10 grams of ADDED sugar (listed below the total carbohydrate/sugar count on the label). This will help you avoid bars that are packed with cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup, while still containing plenty of carbohydrates like oats and dried fruit for energy. Carbohydrates are never your enemy!

3. DIY Energy Balls
If you eat your locker snacks on a daily basis, you can have slightly less shelf-stable options like DIY energy balls. Your energy balls can be made with just a few ingredients and a food processor: no baking required! In a food processor, Ziesmer suggests blending dates or raisins with your favorite nut (like cashews) along with shredded coconut, rolled oats, a bit of salt, and even a pinch of cocoa powder. Blend until they’re smooth, adding more dry ingredients (the nuts, oats, and coconut) until the consistency is thick enough to be rolled into small balls. Put them in the fridge to set, and then store in an airtight plastic bag or container in your locker for up to a week.

4. Pretzels and Shelf-Stable Hummus
If you prefer a saltier snack, a combination of hummus and pretzels is a great way to get carbohydrates, fat, and protein in a fast, easy-to-eat snack. Look for individual packs of whole grain pretzels or buy a bigger bag and divide it into single servings. The pretzels give you some quick energy thanks to their carbohydrate content, while the hummus provides a bit of fat and protein to make the snack more satisfying. Obviously, most hummus needs to be refrigerated, so make sure to look for shelf-stable single-serve containers of hummus. Once opened, don’t return the packages to your locker!

5. Shelf-Stable Chocolate Milk
For a fast hit of carbohydrates, protein, and a bit of fat, it’s hard to beat shelf-stable chocolate milk. There are a few brands that make shelf-stable packs of chocolate milk with organic dairy , or you can opt for almond milk versions if you don’t like regular dairy milk. It’s easy to keep a few of these in your locker for those days you’re running late and don’t have time to actually eat a snack.

6. Coconut Water
If you’re a fan of sports drinks, Ziesmer suggests trying the more natural coconut water, which is available in single-serve shelf-stable packs. It offers electrolytes and enough carbohydrates that make it similar in nutrition profile to a standard sports drink, but the water comes directly from a coconut. Often, you can find coconut water infused with pineapple or mango, if you’re looking for something with more carbohydrates.

Takeaways
Fueling throughout the day with healthy meals and snacks is critical for student athletes. These six snack options will travel easily, taste good, and offer natural carbohydrates from fruit and grains, as well as small amounts of protein and fat.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.


 How to Be Heat-Healthy This Summer
(7/13/2022)
 
   

How to Be Heat-Healthy This Summer


Kevin Gorey, MS
Senior Director, US Council for Athletes’ Health (USCAH)


We’ve all heard the term “Dog Days of Summer”, an idiom referring to the hottest days of the year. As the Dog Days loom, did you know young athletes are often the most susceptible to heat stress because they either don’t recognize the symptoms or feel pressured to continue practicing or playing? As a result, it is critical for parents and coaches to learn the signs and symptoms of heat illness to be proactive in prevention and having an action plan in the event an athlete develops heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Heat illnesses threaten the overall safety and well-being of your child. They range in severity from minor to life threatening, which is why it is important to know the different stages of heat illness so that interventions can be made.

Heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), heat exhaustion and heat stroke are all heat-related illnesses that happen when the body cannot properly cool itself in the heat. The body’s temperature rises faster than it can cool itself down. Exercising or playing in a hot or humid environment can increase the risk of dehydration, which can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Although these conditions are all caused by heat and a person’s inability to efficiently dissipate it, they often times cause different combinations of symptoms:



How can you help prevent heat-related illness?

On hot and/or humid days, try to do outdoor activities when it’s coolest, like in the morning or evening hours. You can also help protect your child from the sun by making sure they wear sunscreen, even when it’s overcast. Sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool down, which can cause dehydration.

Fluid needs vary based on activity, intensity, environmental conditions, body size of the athlete and training status.

In addition to encouraging athletes to drink during activity, helping adolescent athletes develop their own hydration schedule is also useful. Scheduling fluid intake will help athletes get in the habit of drinking at regular times throughout the day. The following is an example of a basic fluid hydration schedule. Use this as a guide to help athletes understand the purpose, but have them tailor the times to their school and training schedule changes:



This list is not exhaustive and does not serve as formal education. Thorough education for coaches, athletes, support staff and medical staff around heat illness should occur annually and include:

• understanding when it is safe to conduct a workout
• how to recognize signs of heat illness and initial treatment
• the importance of on-site medical supplies specific to the weather
• venue specific emergency action plans

Organizations should be able to show proper education has occurred for these stakeholders on a yearly basis.

Remember, it’s COOL to be able to prevent and treat heat illness!


https://www.childrenscolorado.org/conditions-and-advice/parenting/parenting-articles/difference-between-heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/

https://truesport.org/hydration/heat-illness-youth-sports/

https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/the-importance-of-hydration-for-young-athletes

https://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/healthy-hydration-for-young-athletes.pdf


Kevin Gorey is a Senior Director at the U.S. Council for Athletes’ Health (USCAH). Kevin brings extensive experience from both commercial health care and sports medicine to the USCAH team. His three-decades long professional experience has produced high-level results for the organizations he has had the privilege to work with.

USCAH was founded upon the need for trusted, independent athletic health care partners with the experience and expertise to advise and consult with organizations regarding their healthcare delivery system. This is why USCAH is committed to providing independent and unbiased medical expertise to organizations and individuals dedicated to the optimal health and safety for the athletes they serve. If your team or organization would like to learn more about preventing/treating heat illnesses or emergency action plans, please reach out to [email protected] or visit www.uscah.com.




The U.S. Council for Athletes' Health (USCAH) was founded upon the need for trusted, independent athletic health care partners with the experience and expertise to advise and consult with organizations regarding their healthcare delivery system. This is why USCAH is committed to providing independent and unbiased medical expertise to organizations and individuals dedicated to the optimal health and safety for the athletes they serve. You can find out more about USCAH at www.uscah.com or by reaching out to [email protected]


 Why Coaches Should Prioritize their Own Mental Wellness Too
(6/23/2022)
 
   

Why Coaches Should Prioritize their Own Mental Wellness Too


A coach who isn’t taking time for his or her own mental health is at a serious disadvantage. Here’s what you need to know.


As a busy coach, you likely haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about your own mental health and wellness. Sure, you’ve told your athletes to seek professional help if they need it, or maybe even spent time doing group activities with your team to promote mental wellness. But how are you doing?

TrueSport Expert Kevin Chapman , PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of The Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders , believes that a coach who isn’t taking time for his or her own mental health is at a serious disadvantage. Here’s what you need to know.

You’re not invincible—and don’t have to be
“At the end of the day, it’s important for you and your athletes to understand that as a coach, you are not invincible,” says Chapman. “It’s so important to normalize having a range of emotions.”

Checking in with a professional—even before something is ‘wrong’ in your life—is a great idea for anyone. “In our sporting culture, especially for men, it can be hard to show emotion or admit that you need help,” says Chapman. If you know you should talk to someone but are struggling to feel okay with seeking help, he suggests you think about it in a new way: “I reframe treatment as coaching, or mental conditioning, or mental toughness training. That tends to feel better for many coaches."

Chapman adds, “Coaches generally understand that their athletes need to have a growth mindset  and believe that they’re capable of changing and growing. But as adults, we tend to fall into the fixed mindset even if we don’t realize it. And because of that, we actually convince ourselves that we can’t change or be flexible, or that we shouldn’t ’need to’ grow.”

Your mental health impacts your work
"In my experience with coaches, I’ve found that there's even more of a stigma with coaches seeking mental health treatment compared to athletes,” says Chapman. "I've also seen how incredibly impactful this is, because depending on the sport, a coach’s mental health might be critical to overall success, wellness, and safety on the team.” For instance, if you’re going through a tough time, you might struggle to stay on top of tactics in a fast-paced basketball or football game, or potentially even miss warning signs of injury for your athletes.

“Your functioning is impaired when your mental health is not in order,” Chapman explains. “And if your judgment is impaired, then you need to do something about it. You need to enhance your mental health and wellness. You can't be good at your craft in any capacity if your mental health is not taken care of. You can't competently do your job.”

Athletes emulate you—for better or worse
"As a coach goes, so does the team,” says Chapman. Regardless of how many mental health and wellness activities  you do with your athletes, if they sense that you’re struggling or you’re not taking your own advice, they won’t take it either. Athletes will emulate you , rather than doing what you suggest. There’s a reason for the cliche of ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ but unfortunately, that cliche doesn’t work.

“Your athletes are learning more from your example, not from what you're saying,” he adds. “No matter how many mental health exercises you lead them through, your athletes are going to follow that example. Ultimately, some coaches have this unrealistic expectation for themselves that they can't show emotion, which trickles down to the team and what we teach our athletes."

Transparency is powerful
“If you can tell your athletes that you are not okay, and that you’re struggling with something, that's going to enhance your rapport with your players ,” says Chapman. You don’t need to overshare and dig into the details, but telling athletes that something is going on will make you more relatable. “Your athletes are going to relate to you better, because everyone goes through something at some point,” he adds. "And you’ll be surprised, too: Athletes are going to rally around you. They’ll appreciate your honesty and find you more relatable as a human, which will make you more effective as a coach and a leader.”

TAKEAWAY: As a coach, you may not think about your own mental health as often as you think about your athlete’s emotional well-being, but you can’t be an effective coach when you’re struggling internally. Protecting your own mental health will make you a better coach and stronger person.


TrueSport®, a movement powered by the experience and values of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, champions the positive values and life lessons learned through youth sport. TrueSport® inspires athletes, coaches, parents, and administrators to change the culture of youth sport through active engagement and thoughtful curriculum based on cornerstone lessons of sportsmanship, character-building, and clean and healthy performance, by creating leaders across communities through sport.