As someone who spends 100% of my coaching time working with youth athletes, it never ceases to amaze me how poorly they eat. The younger athletes age 6-10 are busy pounding candy, popcorn, and Gatorade (the “healthy” drink!), just to name a few common favorites. As the kids get older they tend to slow down on the candy, but continue to eat highly processed foods such as Bosco sticks, pretzels, pizza, etc. And once they are in high school and can drive, they start eating REALLY “healthy” foods such as Subway! Granted, Subway is better than a Snicker’s bar and a coke, but not by much. So as a parent, what can you do to provide higher quality nutrition for your family?

As a parent of 3 elite competitive children myself, I fully understand the difficulty of getting kids to eat well, and the complicated logistics of meal prep and meal planning. Especially for travel athletes who are always on the road, good food isn’t always readily available. I think the best way to tackle the problem is to try and stick to my GOLDEN RULES for high quality nutrition.


Only eat foods that:

1) Used to walk, run, swim, or fly
2) Grows up out of the ground
3) Grows on trees or bushes
4) Drink LOTS, & LOTS, & LOTS of water

Whuuuuuuut??? Yes!

Think about it, Golden Rule #1 included all meats, poultry, fish, fowl, and eggs, as well as dairy products like milk and cheeses. Golden Rule #2 includes all vegetables, herbs, grains, rice, and some fruits. Golden Rule #3 includes all the fruits and nuts. Basically, we just listed all of the REAL FOODS. All other “foods” are FAKE foods (processed foods). That means bagels, cereal, lunchmeat, pasta, crackers, candy, etc. are NOT real food and should be avoided whenever possible! I can’t overstate Golden Rule #4 enough, everyone should be drinking 1-2 gallons of water every day. Really. Your body is 70% water and it requires constant replenishing. And hey-it’s FREE!

But wait a minute you say, what’s wrong with a bagel?
Well, do you pick your bagels off of a bagel tree?
No, you don’t.
Bagels are a processed food made with flour, which comes from wheat but is a processed carbohydrate (sugar). They also have added sugar in them, as well as a ton of preservatives and chemicals. Especially if you buy the less expensive brands. Read the ingredient labels and you’ll see what I mean.

And what’s wrong with a turkey sandwich?
Sliced lunchmeats are processed with TONS of sodium, chemicals, and sometimes even sugar. Sliced turkey is not the same thing as the turkey you eat at Thanksgiving! The same goes for ham, bologna, pepperoni, salami, and so on.

Remember the Golden Rules. EAT REAL FOOD!

As we approach the Holiday Season it becomes even more difficult to make healthy food choices with all of the goodies and desserts around. But if you’re eating really well as a daily habit, a piece of pie or some chocolate won’t kill you.

So I challenge you to see if you and your family can stick to the Golden Rules for just 1 month!

I am not going to lie, this will be hard, and it will be more expensive. The up-side is that your kids will sleep better, focus better in school, and perform better in their sports.

Oh, and FYI, YOU will feel better too! You will have more energy, feel less overwhelmed, and you can take a lot of pride in knowing that you have made a change for the betterment of your family. (And your hair and skin will thank you too!)

This means you need to go grocery shopping and buy:

  • Whole Chickens (a very economical way to feed an entire family)
  • Fish, Steak, Hamburger, Pork chops, Bacon (yes bacon-it comes from a pig!!!!)
  • FRESH vegetables and fruits, NOT frozen, NOT canned, NOT dehydrated. FRESH.
  • Potatoes, brown or wild rice, beans, lentils, etc.

You need to throw away:

Pre-packaged chips, cookies, puddings, jello, pretzels, crackers, CEREAL, canned soups, frozen dinners, macaroni/cheese, all sodas, ETC.

Holy Moly but that’s everything we eat!!!!!!!

Exactly why this country has seen a 70% increase in childhood-onset diabetes, and why America as a country has just fallen to 69th in the world for expected longevity. Our average expected lifespan is 70.6 years now, compared with China and Denmark with an average expected life-span of 85.

Here are some easy meal changes to make in your daily diet:

BAD Breakfast

Apple Juice
Eat Nothing

OK Breakfast

Orange Juice


Berries (any kind)

BAD Lunch

All Fast Food
French Fries

OK Lunch

Milk or water


Leftover Chicken
Milk or Water

BAD Dinner

Frozen Anything
Mac and Cheese
Store-Bought Desserts

OK Dinner

Ice Cream


Wild Rice

The meals in the Excellent category will be extremely satisfying and will keep you and your kids from being hungry all day. The BAD meals are all sugar-heavy (breads, pastas, and cereals are carbohydrates which is just the scientific name for sugar). They cause a huge spike in your blood sugar, and consequently there will be a huge sugar “crash” about 2 hours later.

So, if your child eats a BAD breakfast at 7:30 am, around 9:30-10:00 am he/she will be STARVING, unable to focus or pay attention, and generally miserable. And if he/she follows through at 11:30 am with a BAD lunch, the cycle starts all over again. Then they arrive home from school hungry and go right for the goodies in the pantry. And then, off to athletic practice!!!!!! Uh oh……

P.S. For adults, it’s nice to know that coffee and tea come from plants! Even beer and wine are better choices than soda, just remember to limit your alcoholic intake as alcohol is a SUGAR. A glass of red wine with dinner is a much better choice than a diet coke!

Take the Challenge

Follow Coach Carrie’s Golden Rules for High-Quality Nutrition for 1 Month and tell us how it goes! We would love to hear how it helps you and your young hockey player.