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Fueling Victory: The Mount Hires a Sports Dietitian

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Juniors and seniors on the Mount women's lacrosse team worked with Lindsey Field, MS, RDN, LD, Mount athletics’ first sports dietitian, to plan healthy meals for the team to share and then shop for ingredients.

“There’s no such thing as a bad food; every food can fit into a healthy diet,” said Lindsey Field, MS, RDN, LD, Mount athletics’ first sports dietitian. Her goal is to deliver the education and expertise necessary for student athletes to fuel their bodies and compete ferociously.

nutriion-lax-waldren-in-text.jpgIn 2017, Mount St. Mary’s University received a one-time special distribution of $218,403 from the NCAA to support student-athlete nutrition—enhancements that would also positively impact the entire student body. The funds were allocated for the direct benefit of student athletes’ academic success, life skills, career success and health and safety as well as athlete-focused diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Diet and nutrition are paramount to the 471 student athletes on the Mount’s 24 Division I varsity sports and two premier sports. “The university realizes the important role of nutrition for student athletes to be successful both on the field and in the classroom,” said William Davies, vice president for business and finance. “Lindsey is a critical resource to ensure our student athletes and all our students understand how to fuel their bodies to perform at peak levels.”

Field has served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Science teaching anatomy and physiology, exercise science, nutrition and lifestyles and first-year symposium. She has also worked with Mount athletics for two-and-a-half years as a sports nutrition consultant. Through the NCAA funds, Field can focus her experience, time and energy to enhance nutrition education, implement new programs and build partnerships that better serve all students.

Her nutrition talks are popular. During the lunch rush, swarms of students make their way through Patriot Hall. She’s seen guiding members of the baseball team through the cafeteria, answering questions and identifying food stations they should frequent after hard practices or competitions.

This field trip complements her team talks, where student athletes learn about basic nutrition and the advantages of eating regular meals, staying hydrated and focusing on their recovery after practices. She describes how micro- and macro- nutrients work in the body, explaining how nutrients from foods they eat can help them meet performance goals to increase muscle mass or recover quickly from strenuous exercise.

“Most athletes, depending on the sport, want to become bigger, stronger, faster. If they’re not careful with what they eat and the timing of eating those foods—that can help or hurt them, depending on their goals,” Field explained.

What’s on their plates is important, but educating student athletes on why they should choose to eat certain foods over others is key. “There are a lot of mixed messages out there so I try to translate the latest scientific evidence into practical nutrition recommendations for performance,” she said.

While there are unique challenges for each sport, body composition and individual need, Field expresses the long-term benefits of student athletes developing healthy relationships with food.

As a registered dietitian nutritionist, she’s trained and credentialed to provide medical nutrition therapy to help manage and treat medical conditions. “I do this for my athletes just as I did for my patients when I worked in a hospital setting,” she said. When appropriate, Field refers student athletes to her colleagues in counseling services.

“Some athletes suffer from chronic medical conditions just like anybody else,” she added. By working together with student counseling services, a student athlete can get the emotional and psychological support in addition to the proper nutrition. Success is a team effort and that’s why she’s making connections inside and outside the university, Field said.  

Director of Athletics Lynne Robinson, C’79, MBA’83, said it’s been wonderful having Field as part of Mount athletics for the past two years. “We are very excited for her expanded role as the department’s sports dietitian. Her passion and expertise in the area of sports nutrition have been an invaluable resource for our student athletes and coaches.”

Field continues to listen and be a resource for coaches on how to stock better pre- and post- nutrition snacks in their fueling stations and assist with meal planning.

nutrition-lax-weis-cart-in-text.jpgOn a recent afternoon, Field met with juniors and seniors from the women’s lacrosse team. Together, they worked to plan the meals they cook for the team and create a grocery-shopping list. Voices from the locker room echoed down the hallway as a strategy emerged. The discussion focused on healthy recipes, food groups, nutrients and what they wanted to cook. Then they put the knowledge to practice and headed to Weis in Thurmont to shop for ingredients.

Field is also working with Aramark, the Mount’s dining services vendor, to add educational signage in the cafeteria and have a chef provide food tastings and cooking demonstrations.

“I work for the athletes,” she summarized. “I want them to be happy with their performance. More importantly, I care about them as people and their overall well-being.”

7 Tips for Making Mindful Decisions about Your Nutritional Health 

  1. Don’t skip meals.
  2. Adopt the 80/20 rule: Eighty percent of the time eat for health, performance and to meet your goal. Twenty percent of the time you can splurge a little.
  3. Stay hydrated.
  4. Listen to your body: Be sensible about food choices and sensitive to your body’s needs.
  5. Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups.
  6. Participate in regular physical activity.
  7. Don’t buy in to the latest fad diet or supplement.

 Tips like these can also be found on Field’s Instagram account @mountfuel.