Emily Edison is the owner and founder of Momentum Nutrition and Fitness. With over 15 years of experience as a registered dietitian and a certified personal trainer, Emily specializes in nutrition for athletes, wellness, and the management of disordered eating. Emily earned a degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Washington State University and a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition with an emphasis in Sport Nutrition from Marywood University. Emily works with G4 Athlete to provide top-notch nutritional insights to young athletes and weekend warriors.
The Path to a Nutritionist
G4: Thanks for sitting down with us, Emily. Could you tell us a little of your story? What led you to nutrition?
Emily Edison: I grew up as a competitive figure skater my whole life. I always had a real keen interest in how nutrition works in the body. My family had a big garden in the house. We really liked to have family meals. I was fascinated by the way you would perform differently if you ate differently. Not even physiologically speaking but also psychologically, your mental gain — how much that was different with eating.
I skated at a pretty high level so I got to see the rewards of that over time. We had a woman who worked with our skating team, her name is Erwina Peterson and she’s from Yakima. She was a nutritionist and she had so much passion that I thought, “Wow! This would be such a cool career!”
I thought I could do what I love — participate in sports — and teach people how they could perform better just by eating.
G4: Very cool. What happened after you earned your master’s degree?
Emily Edison: I moved back from Pennsylvania to Seattle and said, “Alright! Where’s my job?” But there wasn’t one available. Go figure, right? I thought I would just make this up as I go along.
While working other jobs to pay the bills, I kind of did nutrition for free on the side. From there I started being able to support myself. It’s kind of odd that you spend all this money on a great education and then you come out and there are no jobs. No one, at that point, offered nutrition jobs. Schools didn’t have sports nutritionists. No one was really using one. It was sort of like building your way, building my own career, creating your own job. Convincing people why they need someone like me.
The Emerging Field of Sports Nutrition
G4: That’s very interesting. Historically, there hasn’t been much thought to nutrition in youth athletics. Sports nutrition is an emerging field. How far has nutrition come?
Emily Edison: Oh wow. The term dietitian — which is what I am, a registered dietitian — has certainly come a long way. You used to think of a dietitian as someone who works in a hospital and takes care of sick people. Being a sports dietitian was unheard of 15 years ago. Now, it has evolved so that most D-1 schools have a dietitian on staff or they have one on contract anyway. A lot of the professional sports organizations have dietitians on staff.
G4: Where is sports nutrition headed?
Emily Edison: I think we are headed toward, at that higher level, every school employing someone in charge of nutrition. At the younger levels, we’ll start to have more registered dietitians in sports nutrition at the young level because with sports pressure and performance pressure, young athletes are going to have to have nutrition in order to be able to succeed as they advance.
Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes
G4: What steps can young athletes looking to advance take right now at home? Are there certain things they can use or have in the back of their mind as they consider nutrition and how it relates to their sport?
Emily Edison: Let’s go top 4. Not necessarily in this order, but I would say,
To me, a bowl of cereal is an appetizer to an athlete’s breakfast. It’s not breakfast. You’ve got to have at least three foods or food items at each meal. So it could be cereal in a bowl of milk with yogurt and a banana. Or something along those lines. It is important to eat breakfast daily.
Include at least three food items at meals and at least 2 food items at snacks
In snacks, it’s great if you combine carbohydrates with protein. So, not just an apple slice, but an apple slice with peanut butter.
Be sure to eat before and immediately after practice.
Don’t forget hydration.
G4: This is some great content!
Emily Edison: It’s important that we help athletes recognize they have to train both physically and nutritionally to thrive in athletics. Train the mind, the body, and the belly to be ready for the win!
G4: That’s very inspiring and it’s great to communicate this to people who are interested in taking their athletics to the next level but don’t necessarily know what to do to take those next steps. Thanks for sharing, Emily!