Parent Dining Questions: Answered! [Part 2] Nutrition for Student Athletes

Bird’s-eye view of students eating a college dining services meal.

Welcome to the second blog in our series Parent Dining Questions: Answered! Today we’re going to talk about the concerns of parents with student athletes.

Our experts see this question often:

“My daughter is an athlete, and she needs nutritious food. Will she get enough good food?”

Answering this question at face value (“She’ll have plenty to eat! We have [x number] of dining locations, and we offer an unlimited meal plan!”) may not settle parent fears. We’ve found that answering the “question behind the question” is more effective. The parent is really asking: “Can I trust you to feed my daughter the way I do at home? How can I be sure she isn’t going to go hungry and that she’s equipped to excel?

Our college and university foodservice directors assure parents that their student athlete has what they need to excel by talking about Education, Nutrition, and Options.



Ensuring that athletes get the nutrients they need relies first on educating them about how to eat and why. At Creative Dining, our corporate dietitian educates our dining team leaders and equips them with an “Eating for Peak Athletic Performance” document to share with student athletes. This resource details the ins and outs of what to eat, what to stay away from, and why it matters as an athlete.

What resources does your hospitality partner offer? Mention these.

Food Tracking

We also suggest that athletes keep a food journal or use food-tracking apps like My Fitness Pal to track their intake and help them keep an eye on nutrient levels.


Offer Healthy Choices

Since athletes need nutrient-dense food to perform at a peak level, it’s essential that any dining program provides a variety of fruits and vegetables (at least five servings of each per day), plenty of whole-grain carbohydrates, and healthy proteins.

Talk to your hospitality partner about how you can highlight the nutritious options provided.

Limit Refined Options

We also encourage athletes to limit refined grains and sugars as many nutritionists refer to them as “empty calories” that therefore should be avoided.

Mention to parents that your dining options not only offer healthy choices but also limit access to unhealthy ones.


Unlimited Meal Plans

Unlimited meal plans are an effective way for athletes to eat at every meal period and have a bounty of options. Mention to parents that they can also consider adding dining dollars to the athlete’s plan so that they have access to food options outside of meal periods.

Retail Options

Check with your hospitality partner to be sure there are plenty of healthy options in your campus retail environments as well so athletes can access nutritious food outside of dining hall hours.

Check out the next blog in the series, Parent Dining Questions: Answered! Part 3. Did you miss Part 1? Find it here!

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