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Eating at shows

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    Eating at shows

    Ever since my pony days I have had issues with eating when I am competing. I just cant eat because it makes me feel very sick, but then I get in a downwards spiral of my hunger also making me feel more sick but I can't eat cause I'll be sick. I have gotten better at consuming something when I first wake up before I start getting too anxious about the show, but it is only a minimal amount and takes me a good hour to make my way through it all. After I am finished for the day I will happily eat whatever. The issue I am having now that I am competing multiple horses is that I am busy for the majority of the day with no moments long enough for me to feel okay eating, and then I just get fatigued because I have nothing to fuel me.

    My question is what does everybody eat/drink/consume to have enough energy to compete without really having to eat large quantities or is easy on the stomach?

    Could you use energy bars and sports gels? They would be small but provide a lot of calories for the size. The gels might feel more like a drink rather than food. Could you do a substantial smoothie in the morning with fruit and yogurt/tofu for substance and protein? Again, it might feel more like a drink to you and not trigger the anti-eating feeling as strongly. Are you currently able to hydrate well even if you cannot eat?

    Then maybe look into sports psychology techniques for handling this type of nervousness. I'm sure a lot of athletes experience this and I bet there are tons of tips for working through it and getting to a place where you can eat while competing.

    Good luck!


      I’ve found in the past that I don’t really have breakfast before a show. Once we had to travel early though and I was told I should eat something so we stopped at McDonald’s and I got a yogurt and hash brown... not ideal in health and energy, but I’m used to skipping breakfast and running on low energy.

      Try small (and I mean SMALL) energy bars. Meaning maybe five bites and you’re done. Eat multiple ones if you’ve got room. Sometimes eating several of something small helps.

      Energy shakes or something like them would also maybe be worth a try.


        I would have to be dead in order not to eat, LOL

        Have you tried food replacement shakes (like Complan?)


          I have this issue as well, which is compounded by the fact that I have several medications I have to take with food every morning. I event so if my ride/s for the day are early enough, sometimes I will just wait to eat and take my medications after (for example, this is pretty normal on xc day if I go before 12 noon). However, if that isn't possible, I've found that I can usually manage to chug down a good protein or nutritional drink even when I can't eat anything. I used to drink the Starbucks protein drinks as they were just like coffee with added protein, but those are hard to find now. Organic Valley and another company make a good protein drink in various flavors I can get at the local grocery that go down well. This gives me just enough boost to get through my rides and is a good option for taking my meds.
          I have Higher Standards... do you?

          "For the love of my horse, I know who I am."


            As a high school swimmer I really struggled with this (and I was swimming 4.5hrs a day, so not eating was *not* a good option).

            I found protein shakes (especially ones made with almond or other non-dairy milk) to be fairly easy to eat; and I would use those as a breakfast most of the time.

            Another thing that helped me a lot at all day meets was just letting myself relax about food, and not try so hard to eat as much "proper" food as everyone else was.
            For me, I felt sick because I was anxious, and trying to force myself to eat was just adding to my anxiety. I switched from worrying about getting "enough" calories, to finding foods I could eat at all, and allowed myself to just have a bite here or there all day. Lots of small snacks (like a few bites or less) was the key for me, and then I slowly started being able to eat larger snacks because I wasn't making myself feel worse every time I ate!
            Simple sugars are helpful, and your body is probably not that efficient at metabolizing proteins when under stress anyways.
            My favorites were grapes, clementines, goldfish or oyster crackers, chocolate milk or lighter protein shakes, and Gu energy gels and gummies.

            For me, it was really important that I could have foods right in front of me, and that I could eat in very small amounts. The smaller portions didn't bother my stomach, and if I ate lots of small portions, I never felt that bad by the end of the day (still tired, but not exhausted/hangry). Just a few grapes or crackers would keep my blood sugar up, and help my body metabolize pre-existing energy stores effectively.

            My new favorite nervous-stomach foods are the lemon luna bars (citrus doesn't make me feel as sick as other flavors), and Bel-vita breakfast biscuits, those are very crackery in texture, so I find them easier than granola bars.


              I have an Atkins bar in the morning. The protein sustains my blood sugar pretty much all day and I don't get sick from not eating. Just in case, I always bring a few peanut butter filled pretzels, but I usually don't need them.
              Allah took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it, and created the horse. Thou shall fly without wings, and conquer without any sword, O, Horse!
              Anonymous Bedouin legend


                Depends on my ride time, but often just a banana before. I also always bring a Cliff bar and gatorade with me.


                  I always keep a stash of granola bars and protein bars in my tack trunk at shows. I try to always eat breakfast, but sometimes the morning gets away from me and I'm getting ready to do something big and realize that I'm starving but have no time. Being able to grab a bite when I need it really helps....and even if I don't feel like I "need" it in the moment, I can force myself to eat a couple of bites when I know it will help in the long run.
                  Flying F Sport Horses
                  Horses in the NW


                    Nuts? I love Tamari Almonds


                      I used to feel the same way showing in summer where it was very hot and humid. Not so much anxiety but still had the sick feeling. Liquids were easier. Or small calorie dense things. Same for when I took up cycling for a while. Something like energy chews, sports jelly beans, drink mixes, even a soda or candy bar. I did eventually get to where I could eat something small but a little more food like for early breakfast.