Thanksgiving Tournaments: Turkey and Soccer — How to Make It Work.
How can you enjoy a great Thanksgiving meal with your family and perform at your peak level the next day at a youth soccer tournament? Especially a College Showcase?
Nutrition expert Heather Mangieri, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN — Author of FUELING YOUNG ATHLETES and CEO/Nutrition Consultant at Nutrition CheckUp shares her valuable insights on how to survive Thanksgiving tournaments while still celebrating the holidays.
Related Article — Soccer Players: Fueling for the Last 20 Minutes
Thanksgiving is a wonderful family oriented holiday which focuses on time spent at the dinner table enjoying a scrumptious meal that often leaves everyone feeling contentedly stuffed — more desirous of being a couch potato than a super athlete on the pitch.
Thanksgiving is not the day to be thinking about your diet; it is time to be spent with friends and family, enjoying foods you might not enjoy other days of the year.
Problems with performance will surface when you allow a holiday to become a holi-season.
The most important nutrient to focus on is fluid! All that extra food and socializing can quickly result in ignoring fluid intake, and that will definitely result in fatigue and lack of focus in the days following.
When it comes to eating, enjoy, but be mindful. It doesn’t feel good to stuff your body full of food, and it won’t benefit your soccer tournament the next day either. Rather than loading up at one meal, eat a typical portion or maybe a little more, enjoy all of the flavors, and consider how you will use those foods to fuel your tomorrow.
Take a turkey sandwich to your tournament and make a to-go meal of all your favorites.
What can you eat without remorse?
Remember that fat fills you up – fast!
The key to understanding how a food fits is knowing how it was prepared. Many Thanksgiving foods fit nicely into a performance fuel plan.
For example, white meat turkey breast is a lean protein that provides very little dietary fat. Fried turkey, on the other hand, will contribute added fats. Both are great sources of protein, but too much fried foods will fill you up, leaving less room for other goodies.
Same goes for potatoes. A baked potato provides the carbohydrate, potassium, and fiber that I would highly recommend for an athlete, without any added fats.
Compare that to the cheesy potato dish common at holiday meals, and you will fill up faster. Again, both choices provide carbohydrates, potassium, and fiber, but if you are not mindful of your portions, the higher fat dish can leave you feeling full before you get to the pumpkin pie.
Does Turkey really make you sleepy?
Rumor has it, turkey makes you tired, but that’s not the case.
Before you blame the Thanksgiving bird for your fatigue, let me explain. Turkey contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which the body uses to produce serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a role in mood. Serotonin is then used to make melatonin, the hormone that controls sleep.
Though turkey carries the reputation of being rich in tryptophan, it has about the same amount as other meats. If you want to feel energized all day long on Thanksgiving, have your turkey but fit in some activity and loads of water too.
Pecan pie or pumpkin — which is worse and why?
Pumpkin – because it’s my favorite! But seriously, it’s not the pie but the size of your slice that will impact how you feel.
Be mindful and don’t feel as if you need to eat dessert immediately after dinner.
Give your body a few hours to digest and absorb the nutrients from your meal before you dive in for more.
Does drinking a lot of water help? Can I flush this overindulgence out of my system?
Water is a natural energy booster, so make sure to be mindful of your hydration plan, even on the holiday. While it won’t flush the food out of your system, it will keep you properly hydrated, and that’s a priority for every day, not just game day.