Registered dietitian, Stephanie Miezin, joins the TrueSport Expert Series to share practical tips for how we can fuel our young athletes with foods that are both healthy and delicious.
Learn more about Stephanie Miezen.
Kara Winger: Hey, I’m Kara Winger, your host for the TrueSport Expert Series 2022. We are here to talk to Stephanie Miezin about how to make nutritious food taste delicious. Thanks for being here, Stephanie. –
Stephanie Miezin: Yay. I’m so glad to be here and to be able to talk with you about this topic. I love sharing ideas on this because I think it’s so important to help people eat more healthfully, right? It has to taste good. And so I think it’s a really fun one.
Kara Winger: Well, and my relationship with food has come so far. Being a woman athlete in a sport that is more power based. So maybe my body type is a little bit bigger and that is completely OK. Every body type can be successful in every sport, but I really did kind of limit myself for a while and that resulted in one of my first major injuries. And then I have come a long way with my relationship with food ever since. And a big part of that is making food taste delicious. It can be great for you and fuel your body really well, but it’s also important for it to taste good so it keeps you coming back for more. So, what are some ways that people can do that, make healthful, nutritious food taste great?
Stephanie Miezin: So many ways. So I think number one is realizing that, like every step in the process of making food is an opportunity to add flavor. Right? It’s all about flavor. And so, that can look like so many things. It’s like starting with ingredients that are super flavorful, like getting a tomato that’s ripe if you can, versus one that’s still pink and not going to have that sweetness that you’re looking for. So, really choosing ingredients the best that you can in your environment. And then can we season them to get ready for cooking? So beyond salt and pepper, right? Trying to explore a little bit with some spices. I mean, we just pick up one at the store. Next time you’re there, you’re like, I don’t know how to use this one. I’m going to figure out cumin this week, right? Or some of the spice blends can make it easy, too. And then focusing on technique, I think cooking technique is really key because if you understand some of the core cooking techniques, you can cook anything without a recipe, right? Like if you’re focusing on how do I really sear and develop that flavor and that caramelization, then maybe you don’t have to add a bunch of salt later to make up for that flavor that you’re missing. And so I think just like understanding technique is so huge and that’s that food literacy, just understanding food can help you make decisions and really build that flavor and then feel like I know how to do this. And it’s exciting because it tastes so good.
Kara Winger: Well, and it’s such a cool parallel to sport, right? As an athlete, you develop skills, you’re learning as you go and as you become a better athlete, an older person like in your sport. Same thing with each step of the food process, like you said, like you’re maybe marinating your steak and then you’re slicing it super thin with your knife skills and then you’re searing it in the pan with your olive oil and your other spices. But until you really take that leap and immerse yourself in the whole process, you maybe don’t get the satisfaction of each step building on itself.
Stephanie Miezin: Yeah. And I think sometimes too, especially with social media, there’s a lot of pressure that your food has to look a certain way because you want to take a picture with your friends and whatever. Sometimes. But we don’t have to go that far. It’s like the food is for us and for us to enjoy and to nourish ourselves. And so it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just starting somewhere and being in the kitchen can be really like overwhelming if you’re not used to that environment. And so it’s OK to like not have great knife skills and say, OK, I’m going to work on this and OK, I’m going to work on this one technique of roasting or whatever and just build on those skills.
Kara Winger: Yeah, very cool. My husband is absolutely the chef in our family. I’ve come really far, but my specialty, like you said, it doesn’t have to look great as long as it tastes great and you know that it’s fueling your body well. My specialty is the bowl of calories. So many different forms, get the protein in there, get the carbs in there, probably there’s going to be cheese if it’s a meal that I’m making, and I will enjoy the heck out of that bowl.
Stephanie Miezin: Yeah, and it’s going to taste good, right? Or else we’re not eating it.
Kara Winger: Yes, 100%. And for me, that’s a time saver, too. Like, I don’t have a bowl for salad and a plate for my protein and something else to take up a lot of dishes. I can consolidate everything into that bowl for me. So what are some other time saving tips also? You want it to taste great, fuel you well, but you don’t have that much time. What do you do?
Stephanie Miezin: Yeah, there’s so many things you can do. And I think the convenience of a lot of semi-prepped or pre-prepped foods at the store make this so much easier than it used to be, like even just getting a package of pre-cooked vegetables. For some people, like that’s what they need to just be able to get vegetables in that meal because they don’t want to cut up peppers or know how to cut up peppers, maybe let’s say, right?
Kara Winger: Or they’ve had every intention to cut up those peppers, and then they rot in the vegetable drawer every single time. So, the pre-cut, phenomenal. Personal experience.
Stephanie Miezin: Yes. I also really like the idea of some sort of prepping ahead. But I don’t think you have to necessarily do the whole meal prepping thing. There’s a style of like food prepping that I always I like talking about because I come from restaurants originally like working as a chef. And so this is restaurant-style meal prep, as I call it.
Kara Winger: And talk about timesaving, you got to be quick.
Stephanie Miezin: Exactly. And this is how restaurants get food on your plate so fast. And so you take the major components of your meal like your carbohydrate food, your vegetables, your proteins, maybe your sauce or something. And especially for those the carbs, the proteins, and the veggies, if you kind of cook them off and don’t add a ton of specific seasoning, just do like general simple seasoning, then you can use that like grilled chicken, let’s say. And you can cut it up next time it’s time to make a meal and saute it with peppers and onions and cumin, and then make it into fajitas. Or you can add soy sauce and rice vinegar and sesame oil and make it into like an Asian-style dish. And so by simply seasoning your core components of the meal, you can have both convenience and variety for the next couple of days because you just need to kind of assemble and add the final flavors when it comes to making it. So I think that’s a great strategy for people who want that convenience but don’t want to have lasagna for eight days.
Kara Winger: Right. And the timesaver part of meal prepping can sometimes feel so daunting on that Sunday when you have hours of meal prep ahead of you. I don’t love that personally. So that tip is fantastic. Do a little bit of it, know that you have flexibility.
Stephanie Miezin: Yeah. And I also recommend sometimes to do like your grocery shopping for the week and your meal prep on separate days.
Kara Winger: Yes. Yes.
Stephanie Miezin: Because after you go to the grocery store, yes, I’m just like, I’m so tired. I have to cook for four hours now. So I think splitting it up just kind of helps to share that burden a little bit. And then you don’t have to spend so much time in one of your days off.
Kara Winger: Yes. More variety in your life and in your meals for the rest of the week.
Stephanie Miezin: Yes. What are some of your favorite ways to make healthful foods more flavorful and delicious?
Kara Winger: You know, my favorite snack recently is cottage cheese, apples, pistachios, and not just that, but a little bit of cinnamon. So you talk about spices. Like, I wouldn’t have put those ingredients together. I read it in a magazine years ago, and I was just looking for something new. I’m somebody that isn’t afraid to, like, pick the weirdest thing on the menu. So I was like, let me just try this thing that sounded not delicious. Fantastic. Cottage cheese is packed with protein. It feels like dessert because there’s that cinnamon component in it. But there’s this salty crunch of the pistachios. It’s phenomenal. I love it so much.
That sounds so good.
Kara Winger: But what are some other ways like YouTube videos or learning from someone else that you can kind of build confidence in those new skills?
Stephanie Miezin: Yeah, I think there’s so many resources from YouTube to so many different social media channels where you can find people who are teaching those skills and there’s just more and more of that every day. And so I think like seeking out people that are really touching on those foundational skills and also trying out recipes. And like you were saying, if you have a recipe as a guide, I think that can be helpful because then you’re not just winging it, you’re like, well, I have no idea this is going to be edible at all. You at least have that guide of the recipe. And so it’ll probably turn out OK. And even if it’s not perfect, it’s probably going to be at least edible and you’re going to be learning in the process. And next time, it’ll probably be better. And I think giving yourself a little bit of grace is important because it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a learning thing and we’re constantly practicing, right?
Kara Winger: Mm-Hmm. And that’s such an athlete thing too, like to learn a new skill you have to try it. And I think in our culture with a lot of different things like, oh, I’m not good at that, so I can’t do it. Like, why not? Why can’t you learn from someone else or a YouTube video or whatever? And that’s what I try to model after my husband, too. Like, he’s very good at just like learning something from the internet, giving it a try, probably going to be good at it. And if not, we’ll be better the next time. So, having the bravery to, like, put one foot in the kitchen and pick up the knife is really the first step. And you get better as you go. –
Stephanie Miezin: And it’s just a skill like anything else, it seems intimidating because there’s knives and fire. And yes, we need to be careful. But you can learn any skill, right? And it’s just investing that time and saying, I can do this.
Kara Winger: Well, and I love kids that love to cook. Like, I was never that person and I didn’t really, I didn’t help. Like, I don’t know. I don’t know what that was, but like, it would have been really cool to have those cooking skills before I went to college and had to learn them right? And I just I love watching my nephew kind of learn that like he asks to bake cookies and gets to watch the process and just again see where food comes from and package it in a way that you then digest, you absorb, and I just start that young.
Stephanie Miezin: Yeah, I think it’s so important for kids to get in the kitchen and for families to like see the importance and like the potential of those moments because it’s family bonding, and it’s also life skills that you’re teaching kids for the rest of their life and that connection to food and where our food comes from. And I used to teach these cooking classes to small children. And before the classes, we would go into the little garden and everyone would pick their zucchini. And then we would go inside and cut it with butter knives, which is always fun. And then they would eat the zucchini, and the parents would come and say, this kid would never have eaten the zucchini. But it was that connection of like, I saw where this food came from. I prepared it myself. And just if you can get kids in the kitchen to learn those like confident skills and see that connection, that they can be part of it. I think it’s so huge and just sets them up for a healthy life. It’s those life skills, right?
Kara Winger: Yeah. And I love that grassroots like that plant is where this food came from. I finally had an opportunity to garden in the summer of 2020. Just home alone. And I have this picture of me with my first pea harvest. It’s one pea and I am overjoyed. It was so fun and I loved it so much and I am very excited to do it again. I haven’t had time since, but yeah, starting that early would have been great. This has been so helpful to learn about our relationship with food, nutritious food that can also be delicious in so many different ways. But I really love that message that you can make it whatever you want when you have the skills to fuel your body.
Stephanie Miezin: Yes.
Kara Winger: Yes. So thank you so much for joining us, Stephanie. This has been TrueSport Expert Series 2022, making nutritious food also delicious.
Registered dietitian, Stephanie Miezin, joins the TrueSport Expert Series to share practical tips for how we can fuel our young athletes with foods that are both healthy and delicious.
Learn more about Stephanie Miezen.
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Hi. I’m Trevon, Trey, Jennifer. Team USA wheelchair basketball player, paralympian, and true sport athlete. Today, I want to talk to you about goal setting. And there are three things that I would like you to know. First, successful athletes set goals and a planned roadmap. Second, goals should be written down, assessed over time, and changed if necessary. And third, goals need to be challenging in order to be worthwhile. As a freshmen at Edinboro University, I was a part of a team that made the national championship game. And at that time I recognized I was the low man on the totem pole, but I felt in my heart that I knew my dreams were so much bigger than winning a national title. I wanted to make Team USA. I knew what achieving my lofty goal was not going to be easy and that I would need to work hard every day.
So, as a reminder, I created a pyramid of goals that I kept right above my bed. This pyramid reminded me of the accomplishments that I was working towards and visually represented my need to create a solid foundation underneath me before reaching the top. In the bottom roll of my pyramid of goals I listed goals such as obtaining my bachelor’s degree, becoming a scholar athlete award recipient, and becoming an All-American. The middle row listed winning a national title and playing for a professional team. And at the top row, the most challenging of them all, I listed becoming a gold medalist for Team USA.
By understanding that there are smaller stepping stones to achieving my ultimate goal of being on Team USA, I was able to stay motivated and to stay focused on completing the smaller stepping stones fully before moving onto the next one. Now I’ll be the first to admit that not every goal that I listed on my pyramid was accomplished, but seeing my goals every day when I went to bed, I was able to push through the days that I felt like doing nothing in hopes of achieving the bigger picture. Remember, create a clear goal roadmap, assess your goals often, and continue to challenge yourself. I hope that you never stopped dreaming big or reaching for the stars. And I look forward to seeing where your roadmap takes you.
Hi, I’m Kara Winger, Olympic javelin thrower, and true sport athlete. Today I want to talk to you about body image and I have three things I’d like you to know. First, healthy thoughts often lead to healthier bodies. Second, there are varying body types and no one’s body is exactly like another. And third, true beauty goes deeper than the skin. As a multi-time Olympian, I’ve experienced a lot of variation and progression in my training. My coaches and I adapt to my training frequently, all with the goal of supporting my long-term success and health in the sport of javelin. I’m talking to you about body image today because sometimes even with the best of intentions and a common goal in mind, the changes you make to your training habits can prove to be detrimental if made for the wrong reasons. In the lead up to the 2012 Olympic trials, I was told in order to improve my performance on the field, I should try to become a leaner, skinnier version of myself.
So I changed my diet. I went along with what I was being told to do, even though I’d had great success at a slightly heavier weight and higher body fat percentage, and became much leaner than ever before. It seemed like a successful change at first, but I didn’t have nearly the results I’d had before. And I believe becoming leaner than my body naturally wanted to be was what caused my ACL to tear. In the end, it cost me heavily going into the 2012 London games. The takeaway for me, and hopefully for you, is that it’s important to know what works for you and your body and to not compare yourself to others. You should do your research and experiment with your diet to find what makes you feel the best, rather than focusing on what you look like. Today, if I feel like having a chocolate chip cookie, I have one, just not every day.
I’ve learned what a properly balanced meal for my body looks like and I recognize food as the fuel that keeps me throwing. I hydrate and allow myself time to recover. And I listen to and communicate with my body so that I can be the best version of myself. In the end, you are in control of how you see, treat, and respond to your body. We only get one and it’s amazing to discover how many things our bodies can do. Be a true sport athlete. Love who you are in this moment and get excited for all the places your body will take you.
Hi, I’m Izy Isaksen, Team USA, Modern Pentathlon, Olympian, US Army Sergeant, and True Sport Ambassador. Today, I want to talk to you about being a good sport. There are three things I’d like you to know. First, real winners act the same toward their opponent, whether they win or lose. Second, follow the rules and be a gracious winner and respectful loser. And third, sportsmanship reveals your true character.
I started competing in Modern Pentathlon eight years after my older sister and three-time Olympian, Margaux Isaksen, began competing. I soon realized that people often compared the two of us. I would overhear spectators and teammates asking, “Who’s the better athlete,” and “Who’s going to beat the other.” Instead of letting outside pressures create a negative experience for us, I chose to practice winning and losing with grace and respect. I know that it would have been easy to let our hyper competitive mindset affect our relationship, but instead we decided to support and cheer for each other, regardless of our own performance. My experience of competing against and being compared to my older sister, taught me to focus on how to perform at my best, rather than putting wasted energy into wishing for others to fail.
I believe that sportsmanship reveals true character. So, no matter what situation I encounter during competition, I know it’s important to always treat people with respect and be a good sport. Remember, be a fierce competitor, find grace in all your victories and losses. And I hope to see you out there.
Edwin Moses: You’re a coach. Maybe what you want is very simple, for everyone to just run in the right direction, score for their own team, to try and try again and again. Maybe you want your athletes to become all stars. You want them to earn trophies, medals, win titles. You want them to reach the highest height their sport allows. And wanting all of that, of course, that’s good. But as every great coach discovers, developing a great athlete means nurturing, nurturing the even greater person within. Truth is, you have even more influence than you know.
You have the ability to affect even deeper change, to take what’s in your hands and do something even more extraordinary. You can be both the coach who provides the skills needed to win the game and the coach who helps them learn and succeed beyond the sport, to become all stars wherever they land in the future, and to enjoy their lives more now, because the confidence and courage they find working with you will stay with them when they need it the most. There are games to be won, lives to change. Coaches have the power to do both.
I’m Edwin Moses, and the lessons I’ve learned through sport have challenged me, guided me, and shaped my life forever. What kind of coach do you want to be?
At first glance, dietary supplements look the same. They seem safe and healthy, but just because the label says a product is a dietary supplement, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Unfortunately, you can’t tell whether a product is safe or not just by looking at the label. Most vitamins, minerals, fish oil, and other supplements containing nutrients are probably just fine, but supplements are not evaluated or approved by FDA before they are sold. Although it is rare for vitamins or minerals to be contaminated with drugs, there has been at least one case of a vitamin containing an anabolic steroid.
At the other extreme are products that contain drugs, stimulants, anabolic steroids, or other hormones. Even though these are not technically dietary supplements, many of them are labeled as supplements. For example, body-building products sometimes contain anabolic steroids or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, known as SARMs, or other hormones. Some pre-workout or energy products contain illegal stimulants like DMAA, ephedra, or other amphetamine-like stimulants. Weight loss products might contain prescription drugs like sibutramine, or hormones, like human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG. All natural or herbal sexual enhancement products might contain hormones or Viagra-like drugs. Products like these can harm your health and career, but they’re for sale online, in some nutrition stores, and they’re labeled as dietary supplements.
When you pick up a supplement, especially one that promises performance enhancement, you don’t know if it belongs in the “Mostly O.K.” pile or in the “Dangerous” pile. After all, two products might look the same, but one might contain just amino acids and other legitimate ingredients, while the other also contains anabolic steroids. Because of this, FDA has issued a warning about certain categories of supplements: body building products, weight loss products, and sexual enhancement products. Be extremely careful when considering a supplement in one of these categories. We strongly recommend that you avoid products in these categories.
Even when FDA tests supplements and finds dangerous ingredients, companies sometimes refuse to recall them. Sometimes, they simply repackage their product and continue selling it under a new name. Just because a product is on a store shelf doesn’t mean it is safe. You need to do your research and be an informed consumer. The dietary supplement industry is enormous. Supplements that appear to be safe could actually be dangerous products in disguise. If you use dietary supplements without doing your research, you may be taking serious risks with your health and your career. Please visit USADA’s Supplement 411 for more information about dietary supplements.