Eat to Peak
Each summer, Associate Athletics Director Madge Makowske applies for and receives one of four NCAA grants to support additional education activities for Wildcat Athletics. This year was no different. The Mindful Athlete Nutrition Program, however, is special because it involves multiple partners and hands-on learning for students.
“What started as a small idea I had blossomed into a full-on collaboration with St. Kate’s faculty, student-athletes and interns, Sodexo and our registered dietitians on campus,” says Makowske.
The program aims to improve student-athlete performance and well-being — now and post college — through better nutrition. It includes a newsletter, “Snack Attack” info sessions and cafeteria placards that identify dietitian-approved meals for student-athletes.
“An athlete’s body is like a performance car,” notes Makowske. “If you put bad stuff into the car, it will not run well. The body operates the same way. You have to fuel it with healthy food, or it will lack energy and not perform well.”
Each month, Holly Willis, the assistant professor of nutrition and dietetics who co-leads the project with Makowske, works with at least 10 student volunteers to create educational materials and messages that correspond with specific monthly topics. Jordan Rice, a graduate student in holistic health studies, formats and emails the newsletter, which includes topics such as recovery meals and eating on the road. Rajani Poudel ’16, a student intern with Sodexo, helps to create the postcard-sized flyers displayed throughout the cafeteria.
“Snack Attack” events teach student-athletes about portion sizes and how to build low-calorie, high-protein snacks. For example, trail mix (mixed nuts, Craisins, popcorn and chocolate!). Students also learn what foods work best to answer the “I’m still hungry, what should I eat?” question. (Answer: Try an apple. It’s a perfect low-fat option).
“Our volunteers all bring different experiences and knowledge to our work sessions,” says Willis, a registered dietitian. “The opportunity to guide students through the process of creating educational content has been as rewarding as presenting it to the athletes.”
Registered nurse Sarah Hoyt and Sara Eisenhauer, sports information director, round out the project team.
Learn more about St. Kate’s Mindful Athlete Nutrition Program.
Stacy Dahl is a senior majoring in business administration.