We recently caught up with Les Canadiennes de Montreal registered dietician Pearle Nerenberg, who presents our newest guest post about her journey, and how to plan a little more, hit the drive through a little less while delivering great meals for our growing athletes.
Because as parents, we understand we are doing our best to manage the family's hectic schedules of careers, school, sports/activities, groceries, cooking, cleaning and yes...sleeping occasionally. So any help with proper meal planning is a good thing.
Diary of a Sports Dietitian - Memories of Fast-Food Bus Stops, Making it Big, and My Wish for You
By: Pearle Nerenberg, Masters Level Sports Dietitian
I can vividly remember a time when I was 15 years old. The well lit, bright red and yellow, fast food menu called out to me to make my choice, or as I saw it, to choose my poison. This wasn’t the first time that my well meaning hockey coaches had put me in this position. Hockey and healthy food options did not mix when I was a young hockey player. There was often a post-game meal at a fast food place. Unfortunately, I would eat like a bird, too frozen and afraid to make the wrong choice so I made an even worse choice, I made no choice. In those moments I had no idea I was risking everything I was working for - my ticket to University hockey by denying my growing body key nutrients.
I didn’t grow up eating meat and the food served in most fast foods places just didn’t seem like food to me.
When I left my parents nest for a shot at success in a fancy New England prep school, I was still their vegetarian daughter at heart. I craved real food options because a part of me knew that real food, not highly processed food, was how I had gotten to where I was.
I grew up in hockey. And, in rural Quebec, we are not known for eating healthy food. To this day, most arenas near my hometown still struggle to offer much more than hot dogs and greasy poutines (heart-attack in a dish). I had 2 outstanding parents who went against the norm in my area and raised their kids on whole grains, tofu, and salad. I am not saying we ate that every night, nor did we eat perfectly every night, but 90% of the time those types of foods found their way to my plate and in my body. These early habits shaped my life and literally made me into a successful athlete.
I was the only girl playing hockey in my league at the time. I did more than keep up with the boys which was surprising to many. Seriously, I was tiny (always the shortest in my class). How could such a tiny person out skate them, out hussle them? I imagine I just had more energy than the boys! I made the elite boys travel teams using hand-me-down gear and never had a new pair of skates until I played D1 hockey in University. My best tool was my diet.
I should not have gotten noticed. But one of the best universities in the world noticed me.
I have been told my energy and hustle is what sets me apart from other hockey players. This must be why I got noticed by Cornell because it was NOT my finesse, my hands, or my shot - oh my poor sad shot in high school (more on this another time!). I was lucky, despite having to eat occasionally from fast food places in high school, because I was noticed. Then, I was recruited, and the real athletic challenge began.
When I played for Cornell I literally never missed 1 game or practice in 4 years. Who does that in a division 1 college sport? And, trust me, I got A LOT of playing time so I had plenty of chance to get injured or sick from exhaustion. None of those happened.
I had incredible energy because I had learned the secrets of sports nutrition through my experience and then through advanced nutrition degrees.
By the time I finished my nutrition degrees, I could not wait to share all my secrets with others. It was like I had this key that I wanted to give to everyone. When you first start anything, you are unsure what exactly to share, how to do it, and you are scared no one will even care. It’s been 10 years since I left elite hockey, finished my education, and started sharing the information I learned. I have taken this time to get to know people, to try out programs, to become a mom, and to formulate my most impactful offering ever. And I hope you know how hard I am working to make it simple my busy friends!
When I first started coaching nutrition I was so excited to share everything I learned my clients often walked away with too much information. I have learned from my mistakes.
Now, I know simple is better, simple is doable - attainable. So here are 3 simple steps you can take! Yes, I’m giving them to you. All my hard work. I want you to have it now, not later, so you can get started today.
1 → Start by just looking at the Eat 4 Performance Foods List I would like all athletes to target eating these foods 90% of the time, just like I did growing up.
2 → Next, you can use my starter week planner to get some meals and snacks ideas that are constructed for young athletes. Eat 4 Performance Meal Plan Inspiration
3 → Join me as I offer advice to your special family life. You can join my facebook group (as I continue to give away my tips and tricks - every week! This is where we meal plan, get recipes, compete for the best breakfast ;)... and either win a prize or simply win at life.
Eating for maximum energy IS winning and I would love you to join me in winning at nutrition.
Pearle Nerenberg, MSc RD
Masters level Sports Dietitian and life-long Hockey Expert
Pearle is a registered dietitian located in the hockey hot-bed, Montréal, Québec. She holds the International Olympic Committee’s sports nutrition diploma to top her advanced nutritional science degrees from Cornell University in Ithaca NY and McGill University in Montreal QC. She is the dietitian for Les Canadiennes de Montreal and has been a regular nutrition expert on local media outlets.
She designed a nutrition coaching program where she focuses on working with families and teen hockey players. Pearle has a special expertise in hockey as a veteran collegiate hockey player. She co-authored Eat This for Performance in Hockey in 2014, which has guided numerous young hockey players to eat for performance and she founded the club for Eat This for Performance in Hockey which offers the hockey community a way to connect with sport dietitians qualified to work with hockey players.
Pearle’s nutrition coaching advice is further enhanced by her experience as a mother of 2 active children. Pearle is regularly found experimenting in the kitchen making simple dishes that both fuel performance and taste great.