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Cross Country/18yr old son/Nutrition/College

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  • Cross Country/18yr old son/Nutrition/College

    We shipped my son to college last week. Wow how time flies. Roughly only 1 hrs away so weekend trips to and from wont be so bad.

    He ran CC and track throughout High School, primarily long distance running. Hes in very good shape with a great physique. But now hes realizing he is running with guys at the next level. This being his first full week of training has been brutal for him.

    Side note: I began eating primal Sept/16/2011 with good results. Ran across a success story on MDA and made the switch. Enough about me.

    His food intake has been the typical high school kid diet, i.e., cereal/oat meal for breakfast and a crappy school lunch, back in the pantry after school then a primal dinner with the exception of some type of filler sometimes bread, rice, potatoes, pasta. He actually has a very open palate and eats like a horse just like most active kids his age. The problem is when youre a teenager the convenience factor of crap food trumps preparing something not crap. And now since hes in a dorm Im thinking food preparation will be limited.

    Sounds like the only nutritional advice his HS coaches ever said was to load up on pasta the night before a meet and drink plenty of Gatorade/Powerade. Maybe his college coaches will provide some better nutritional guidance?

    So after seeing good results with my primal nutrition I naturally tried to push him away from the pantry and more towards the outside aisles of the grocery store. I have read articles on MDA covering endurance training and nutrition, however, I am trying to see how the recommendations I have been reading can work for a college kid in a dorm.

    Im thinking now is not the time to suggest major changes to what he eats but maybe tweak it a bit. Things like increasing or paying more attention to foods with higher sodium, magnesium, potassium and ditching the Powerade and replacing it with coconut water or simply water and a banana. The Powerade is going to be tough. I am also reading more about training low on glycogen and running on fat (provided he can get good fats), then boosting the carbs (starchy roots, tubers, fruit, rice) a few days before a meet to increase glycogen. I forgot to mention he is on a meal plan, we just have yet to see what types of food the school offers.

    Am I anywhere close to a good plan for an 18yr old? Or is some of what Im thinking just not necessary for an active 18 yr old athlete.

    Any comments/suggestions?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    First off, does your son have any interest in being primal/paleo? If not, this is a pretty bad time to try and push anything on him -- going off to college is a big and potentially stressful time period, and a diet overhaul along with it could prove to be a bit too much. If he wants it, though, there are ways to be primal while attending college.

    It would be a rare school meal plan that is 100% primal. Even my school, which offers some of the best quality school food I've heard of - grass-fed, local, designated GF food area, etc. - cooks everything in canola oil (it's good for you, dontcha know). There are a couple options while staying on school-cooked food:
    1) Have your son talk to the chef. Depending on the school and food provider, they either may be willing to switch up things for him (i.e. butter instead of canola) or they may not be.
    2) Just go for the things in the caf that look the most primal, and not worry about what it's cooked, O3:06 ratios, CAFO meats, pesticides, etc. It's four years of his life -- it won't kill him.

    Depending on his school, it may or may not be possible for your son to cook his own foods. I'm guessing there would be a kitchenette with a microwave at the very least, to which a toaster oven with a bake and broil setting could be added for not a whole lot of money. You'd be surprised what you can make with those two appliances - slow cookers are also another easy option. I've found that (budget-wise) a Weston A. Price-style way of eating is a lot easier to maintain than Paleo (although Primal comes close). May or may not be an issue.

    His dorm may have a kitchen with a stove/oven in it. It really depends on the school/dorm. A word of warning - even if there is a kitchen with a stove in the dorm, it's worth checking to see if it's rated to cook in or not. The kitchens in my school's dorms are just "warming kitchens", meaning they don't have vents to get rid of smoke. And his dormmates would not be amused if they have to evacuate the building because he set off the fire alarm.

    You said he's in good shape. Honestly, he shouldn't be worrying about macros - if he's in shape and running CC, he'll be fine eating real foods. That being said, I think the pre-race pasta loadup is standard college fare for CC, as well as things like beer. I've been told that CC team pasta dinners are a bonding thing, and I know drinking is, so if he does eat primal(ish?) then the 20% is an important thing to remember.

    I guess the most important thing I want to say here is that your son is an adult now -- which is a fact that sometimes parents can be reluctant to acknowledge. It's wonderful that you want him to to eat well at a time when most people his age don't, but he should really be the one on here. His health is his responsibility now. I know I'm not the only college student on here, so there are plenty of people to give tips if he wants any.