Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. That’s the old saying! This couldn’t be more appropriate for nutrition knowledge and the practical skills of cooking, food preparation. Champions are made in the kitchen! Ok, there’s a lot of training and hard work alongside that; it’s not just nutrition. But it IS important because EVERYBODY eats!
Where Do I Start?
Learning culinary skills is great for building independence, knowledge, confidence, and discovering new tastes, foods and methods. This can transfer into later life and “feed you for a lifetime!”. This also shows those around you that you are interested in making a positive impact on your everyday life, training, and performance with sports nutrition and can really impress with your dedication. Parents have a big role. Young athletes will get older and need to provide for themselves. A few ideas are:
- Food Hygiene: General knowledge on food hygiene, hand-washing, different coloured chopping boards.
- Food Preparation: Cooking temperatures, food storage and containers
- Raw vs Cooked: Vital yet often forgotten - you should keep these separate!
But Cooking is for Chefs, Right?
You can move onto cooking meals once you are confident you have the basics right. You don’t have to be a Michelin-star chef to get started. Nor do you have to begin with a three-course banquet. Simply getting in the kitchen is a good idea for youth athletes! You could start:
- One meal at a time: begin by making a simple breakfast like scrambling eggs, wilting spinach, and making toast. Then moving onto lunch by chopping mixed salad and veg, choosing seasonings, and protein sources etc.
- One method at a time: gradually move away from the microwave (although it can be great for frozen veg, breakfasts etc!) and step towards salad preparation, slicing bread, the something more complex like using an oven for roasting veg or potatoes, pan-frying meat or fish, or boiling some rice safely.
- Favourite Food First: Getting younger athletes in the kitchen with something they love can be a great way of sparking an interest. This could be a staple spaghetti bolognese, baking a fruity flapjack or simply beans on toast. It’s a start! Show them the way and it might just fuel interest in what the next recipe is. You could choose one or two meals the family likes and cook together, or you could search different, new recipes and say, “this one next time!”.
Article by Liam Oliver.