PHOTO BY SEYRAN MAMMADOV/THE VARSITY BLUES

Food equates to energy in an athlete’s world. Sandakie Ekanayake crafts her diet so that she can balance her athletic endeavours as a lock for the Varsity Blues women’s rugby team and a member of the Pom Team.

As most rugby games take place in the afternoon, Ekanayake’s main focus before a game is breakfast. Tea is a must in the morning for Ekanayake, game day or not, and is the beginning of her daily routine. Ekanayake says that her morning nutritional focus is on carbs, protein, and fats. She likes to begin the day with breakfast foods like eggs and bacon or sausages.

As a commuter, Ekanayake’s quick on the go snack is peanut butter and jelly. The blend of protein and carbs is important to her diet.

Following her mantra of balance, dinner the night before the game is just as important. Consuming carbs is key, so Ekanayake sticks to rice or pasta. Her biggest stress though is to stay hydrated.

Staying hydrated is crucial for an athlete’s body, and so is getting protein before a game. Prior to the start of a game, she tries to consume simple carbs like a protein bar.

Her eating habits aren’t too regimented, but she does her best to stay constant in season and off season by eating healthy year round.

Like many of us, Ekanayake has a sweet tooth and her cheats are sweets. She believes it’s important to have a healthy relationship with food.

Because of her increased training and field time, “the biggest thing [in season] is just eating more frequently and eating more food,” Ekanayake says.

According to Ekanayake, she is “not too strict in season” as the main importance for her “is simply eating more food so that [she’s] eating enough to replenish what’s being used up.”

“It’s easy to lose energy when you’re doing that much work,” she adds.

From lifts, to practice, and always being on the go, “Staying hydrated and staying fueled is not as easy as you would think… given the schedule of being a student athlete and you having other commitments on the side as well,” Ekanayake admits.

One thing that can severely alter a diet is recovering from an injury. Ekanayake speaks to this as she recovers from a recent back injury.

“It’s very hard to change your diet after injury,” Ekanayake says. “I was still eating like a high performance athlete even though I didn’t need anywhere near the same amount of energy.”

While she admits that it’s “easy to fall off the wagon here,” she says that she tries to avoid inflammatory foods as she recovers.

Being adequately fueled, maintaining a healthy routine, and knowing which foods provide essential vitamins and protein is crucial to Ekanayake’s success not only on the field, but also in the classroom.

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