As the sport dietitian for Oregon State University’s athletic program, Christina Weston spends her more than 80-hour work week managing the meals for the Corvallis, Ore., school’s 17 varsity teams. Here are her tips on how operators can help keep athletes performing their best.
How is working with student athletes different than working with students?
Their needs are completely different. Compared to an average student who may work out six to eight hours a week, student athletes work out 20 hours a week. They also travel, and they have meetings, study hall and rehab on top of being a full-time student.
How can other foodservice operators better serve their athletes?
Realize that a meal for an average student would be a snack to an athlete. Getting foods that the athletes will eat is most important, as they need thousands of calories at the end of the day. After that, it’s about working with the athletes and educating them to make the best choices possible for their specific goals out of the foods they will eat or enjoy.
What are some of the ways you encourage athletes to eat healthy?
It’s only difficult for a select few; for the most part, they want to eat healthy for themselves. I start with educating the athletes on small things; [for example,] before practice you need simple carbs, and protein after practice. At meals, I focus on getting color on their plate.