Limits and rules
As a sports dietitian you sometimes have to play with limits and rules. Such as when a minor judoka comes to me, who is a few kilos above her target weight. As a result: if she does not reach her goal weight, it will be a championship. Discussions with colleagues (non-sports dieticians) even lead to disapproving reactions. Helping a child lose weight, is that not possible? But remember: if I don’t monitor her, she will go, the coach will go, or her parents will take measures that will not make me happy at all. If I keep control, register well, report well and above all: being in line with the coach and with the parents is only a win-win situation.
There are of course objective criteria for setting limits. If this judoka falls below the standard for weight, the entire plan will of course not go through. It is often also a question of gut feeling. How does she come in herself? How do her parents come across? With ‘must’, by whom or whatever, there is a line through the entire plan. At the age of 12, children know very well what they want.
Performance or health?
As a sports dietician you often have two thoughts. You want a) to promote health but also b) to improve performance. And they certainly do not always correspond with each other. Consider the use of sports drinks. Sometimes necessary, but the plague for the teeth for example. Consider the use of supplements. Useful and sometimes even essential to promote performance, but are we so certain when it comes to the possible consequences of long-term use? Yet I consciously go along with the search for limits. Do not get involved with the wishes of the athlete, drop them immediately. It is essential to have a sporting experience. How can you know what is going on in the mind of an athlete if you only do bank sport yourself?
Sports dietetics is a beautiful, practical subject that often seems so simple and yet is not. But examples of how small adjustments in the diet, or more knowledge, can lead to big results.
- The very talented girl who plays tennis and leaves the court without breakfast to play tennis for 1.5 hours and then eats a cookie at school only in the morning break.
- The amateur cyclist, who has such a terrible physical ability that I almost get jealous, but just sit down with mom and dad to get rid of a plate of stew with sausage and gravy before he gets on a bike for endurance training and then dives into bed. Count out your profit if you already make some shifts in it.
- That youth soccer player, who genuinely has no idea why his fat percentage is so high. And only after a long push to come up with his step nights.
There is so much more return to be made from these talented athletes. Without having to use very crazy artifacts. That is why it is so incredibly unfortunate that the path to a sports dietician is apparently so difficult to find.