This is a hot take and may be hard to hear for some athletes.
Just because you are meeting your physical goals, doesn’t mean you don’t have a disordered relationship with food.
There is so much more to being healthy and fueling your body properly than just meeting your physical goals. Being healthy involves having good mental, emotional AND physical health.
Why This Matters
Many athletes carefully monitor their body and intake since they need it to be in prime shape for their sport. For some athletes, this focus on nutrition leads to positive changes to their diet and lifestyle. Athletes will benefit greatly if they fuel themselves properly and do the correct things off the field. But for some athletes, too much focus on nutrition can be more harm than good. Misinformation, lack of guidance or a hyperfocus on their nutrition can lead athletes down a dangerous path towards disordered eating in athletes.
Eating disorders impact 13.5% of athletes, with female athletes making up 45% of this statistic. These conditions can break down an athlete’s body, ruin their chance at playing, and even claim their life. This is why it is so important to catch signs of disordered eating and thoughts before they progress into a clinical disorder.
Do You Potentially Have An Unhealthy Relationship With Food?
Here are 4 signs of disordered eating/behaviors in athletes that may suggest your current nutrition approach is not the healthiest:
- You are always thinking about food throughout the day
- You are overly preoccupied with your weight/body composition
- Food constantly causes you stress
- You purposely avoid food at team dinners or special events
If any of these signs sound like you, I challenge you to re-think your approach.
What You Can Do
You might have started out on your nutrition journey motivated for weight loss or physical goals, but if these goals begin to take over your life (or your thoughts), your journey isn’t over! You deserve to be the best you from a mental, emotional, and physical health standpoint. A strong fueling foundation and sustainable fueling plan can help you achieve these goals.
If you think you are struggling with food and nutrition, please reach out for help! Talk to a coach, a trusted friend or family member, or your healthcare provider. You do not need to, nor should you, work through this challenge alone.
Working with a nutrition professional, such as a sports dietitian, can help you create a plan that allows you to progress as an athlete, but also support your mental health and a healthy relationship with food.
At Reilly Beatty Sports Nutrition, we help you do just that. Our programs help you learn to fuel with foods that you love and are free from restriction. Athletes’ lives completely change on and off the field after joining. If you are ready to see these results, our team of Sports Dietitians is accepting athletes to work with us 1:1 or in the low-cost nutrition program, the Performance Fueling Club this summer. Click here to find out more about our programs and what is right for you.