Great quantities and many different choices of food. You can serve yourself as much as you like from a neverending supply, and there are so many nice things to try. Many athletes find that they lose the plot in such circumstances—because it’s so easy to eat more than usual, and more than they need.
- Limited access to food outside designated eating times. If the dining hall is only open at certain times, athletes with enormous energy needs may not be able to consume enough food at the customary three meals and may lose weight.
- Different and unusual foods. It can be challenging to find a counter laden with new foods and dishes. You may be reluctant to experiment when it comes to trying new foods, or maybe you are unsure of their nutritional value. This can lead to weight loss or failure to meet nutritional goals.
- Lack of supervision. Many athletes come unstuck when they first move to the dining hall and find that Mum is no longer around to make them eat their vegetables.
Distraction from other athletes. Surrounded by the eating habits of a large group of people, you may find it hard to concentrate on your own nutritional goals. And, given the competitive nature of athletes, it isn’t surprising that official and unofficial ‘eating competitions’ can take place.
Eating for entertainment. An athlete may not have much time or scope for leisure activities during the day. If the dining hall becomes a substitute, he may demolish a lot of extra food in the name of relaxation and recreation. Faced with these challenges, athletes must take special steps to use the dining hall to its optimum potential. Checklist 8.1 will help you make good decisions. Note that many of these ideas come in handy in any buffet dining situation.