Many athletes believe eating in the afternoon is sinful. They self-inflict "Thou shalt not snack" as an Eleventh Commandment. Then, if they succumb, they feel guilty. Or more likely, younger players do not plan for after-school eating, and then train on empty.
Hunger is neither bad nor wrong. It is a normal physiological function. You can expect to get hungry every four hours. If you have lunch at 11 a.m. or noon, your body needs fuel by 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.
If you think of your afternoon fuel as a "second lunch," you'll end up with wholesome food--a second sandwich, a mug of soup, or peanut butter on crackers. In comparison, "afternoon snack" suggests candy, cookies and sweets--the goodies craved by soccer players who eat too little at breakfast and first lunch.
The preferred solution to sweet cravings is to prevent the cravings by eating more food earlier in the day, and having a second lunch later in the afternoon. The second lunch maintains afternoon energy and helps prevent evening over-eating.
"When I was on the Boston Breakers, Nancy taught us to eat two lunches," WPS forward Amy Rodriguez said. "It's good to eat the same amount of food four times a day instead of a little bit in the morning and then a lot towards the end of the day."
Read more tips like these in "Food Guide for Soccer--Tips & Recipes From the Pros" by Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, RD. The book addresses nutrition questions and concerns of soccer athletes of all ages, and offers almost 50 recipes from players in Women's Professional Soccer. Find the book at NancyClarkRD.com or at Amazon.com.