Manage meal times

Author:  Sally Anderson, Sports dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist
Issue: Volume 7 Number 2

Travel is often a large part of any sporting official’s life. This means eating away from home, eating on the run and sometimes hoping that there will be something ‘reasonable’ to eat at sporting venues. Eating patterns such as this can translate to unwanted kilos. Officials need quality and consistency in their daily fuel to allow for optimum energy and health.

Following are some tips to help you choose the most nutritious meals when your officiating takes you ‘on the run’.


Car or work

Store long-life snacks, including:

  • quick oat sachets
  • apricots, prunes or other dried fruits
  • mixed nuts and seeds (single serve packets)
  • healthy muesli bars
  • low-fat yoghurt (keep in the freezer)
  • corn thins, with flavoured tuna, vegemite or smooth ricotta cheese
  • bottled water.


Coffee break

Caffeine intake needs to be monitored, as well as the calories that most likely accompany cups of coffee or tea. General rules are:

  • avoid flavoured syrups
  • order skinny or soy milk
  • have a piece of fruit, not a biscuit
  • limit treat foods such as frappes, milkshakes and thick shakes.



Do not eat at the first place you come across — investigate all of your options.

  • Choose vegetarian foccacias and low-fat rolls (boost the antioxidant and fibre content by including salad).
  • Take an apple from home to avoid tempting treats at coffee counters.
  • Eat because you are hungry, not to try and kill time. If you do have time, take a walk.
  • When fast food is the only option, check the restaurant’s nutrition information sheet. Be informed about what you are eating. Keep in mind:
    • chicken may not always be the lean choice, especially if crumbed — sometimes a hamburger may be leaner
    • if you need a tray to carry your meal, you have ordered too much
    • salads and some salad rolls can have a high fat content due to dressing or bacon bits
    • do not add soft drinks to your meal.


Eating out

Think smart about eating out.

  • If you can, walk to get your lunch, do not drive.
  • Keep take-away menus handy for when you have to work through lunch or work back.
  • Treat a nearby supermarket like your ‘fast food’ stop. Buy pre-cut vegetables, salads, low-fat cheeses, salmon, bread rolls or yoghurt for lunch. Some supermarkets even stock sushi, which is a healthy lunch option.
  • Avoid smorgasbord-style restaurants, but if this is not possible limit yourself to two trips to the buffet, use small plates and load up on dark leafy greens, carrots and bean salads. Go easy on creamy salads and dressings, and avoid potato skins and pizza.
  • Some simple tips when eating at restaurants include:
    • look for vegetarian options
    • skip the bread and starters
    • choose tomato or broth soups not cream-based soups
    • drink water, soda water or tea
    • look at meals on other tables — if they are large, choose an entree as your main meal and have a side salad or steamed vegetables
    • for dessert, opt for a coffee, a skinny hot chocolate or fruit. If you want dessert, share it.

Think about your food choices for the entire day, not just the next meal. If you know you will be eating out at night, have a lighter lunch. If you know you are going to be eating out for all your meals, then you had best make some time to exercise!

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