Healthy eating is essential for athletic performance.

I love to brag about my children. My 14-year-old son is the athlete. My 12-year old daughter is the musician. I am lucky to have such variety and success in my life! My son is currently participating in track for the second year and I've begun researching eating habits that are important for this sport. Following is the advice I have to offer for the young track athlete:

1) The best thing to do is eat a variety of healthy, well-balanced meals.
2) Do not skip meals.
3) Eat four to six meals per day or three meals with snacks in between.
4) Eat healthy snacks.
5) Always eat breakfast.
6) Eat a variety of foods including carbohydrates (oatmeal, whole grains, pasta, etc.), proteins (chicken, fish, lean beef) and legumes, fruits, vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc).
7) Eat lots of fruit and vegetables. The richer the color the better, as this is a sign that the food has a high content of vitamins.
8) Avoid an excessive amount of highly processed foods, specifically those high in sugars, oils, fat and flour.
9) Eat a sufficient amount of protein for your activity level and specific needs.
10) Eat or drink something within 30 minutes after your workout. This will drastically reduce the time needed to recover.
11) Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Better yet, bring a bottle of water with you everywhere, especially to practice.

Eating right will provide a number of benefits, such as consistently better practice sessions (which in turn leads to consistently better races), quicker recovery from practices and races, and increasing your body's ability to prevent injury. Athletes will both feel better, and perform better. Perhaps the non-athlete should follow these guidelines as well?