Dining Area Khelo India University Games at the ongoing Khelo India University Games in Bengaluru, which has a participation of over 3,800 athletes, the organisers have emphasized the nutrition and dietary requirements through a scientifically-planned food menu for the participants. Namratha Pramod, Nutritionist at Sports Authority of India, Bangalore, who was involved with the planning of the menu at the KIUG 2021 since the tournament was announced, explained the strategy that went into devising the menu.
“We took care of several elements including the macro and micronutrients in every food item that we are providing. We also took care of the hydration of the athletes ensuring they receive juice, milk, and whole fruits which they can carry with them at the competition,” Namratha said.
Sports nutritionist, who worked with IPL players, consulted to devise menu
Sodexo was asked to assist SAI with the catering at the KIUG 2021, and they held discussions with a renowned sports physician and nutritionist Dr Divya Purushotham, who has also been a consultant with Karnataka Cricket State Academy, apart from several IPL and hockey players. They devised a proposed menu for the KIUG and presented the same to SAI. Further consultations were then held with SAI nutritionists to devise the final menu.
Dr Purushotham is the founder of Sano Holistic Nutrition Clinic, a health clinic specialising in providing a scientific-based nutritional approach for sports and lifestyle.
“We worked with them on finalising the overall menu, taking care of the number of calories, carbohydrates, and proteins present in a single meal,” Nitin Trikha, Country Director, Sodexo Education Services, said.
The long-winding process has reaped the rewards as the feedback from the athletes and the coaches, across all the venues, has been quite positive regarding the food being served to the athletes. While a protein-centric diet is provided to non-vegetarian athletes with multiple options of chicken and fish on the menu, there are also protein-rich options available for vegetarian athletes such as Jothi V of the host university.
“For me, since I am vegetarian, there are vegetarian options such as Paneer and Dal, which are provided in ample quantity to make up for protein in our diets as well. We are also being served milk, eggs, and juice on a regular basis for good muscle recovery,” she added.
For Wrestlers, Boxers, and Weightlifters, who require to maintain strict weight limits, there are also options on the menu to cater to their needs, so that they can achieve the desired results.
“If any wrestlers wish to reduce or maintain weight, they have options in the menu to take food items which will help them do so. There are also a lot of fruits and salad options,” Deepak, who will compete at the 87kg Wrestling event, representing Gurgaon University, said.
Dining area for Khelo India University Games (Source: KIUG press release)
To go a step further, technological measures were put in place to ensure the athletes are aware of the nutrients they are consuming in every meal. “Every day, we are running a video on LED of the nutrients present in the food items present in a meal at every venue. So, if any athlete is weight conscious and/or requires to maintain their weight levels to compete in competitions, they can pick and choose accordingly, referring to the nutrients intake they need from the screen,” Namratha explained.
Another major thought process that went behind the scenes while designing the menu was catering to athletes coming from all the different parts of the country.
“We took care of the fact that athletes are coming from pan-India to give them a taste of what they eat and what they are comfortable with. Since Bangalore is hosting, we have also included several dishes of Karnataka such as Akki Roti, or Jowar, etc., to give the athletes a flavour of the state,” she said.
“We have received the feedback that even if an athlete is from Amritsar or from down South, or East or West, everyone is liking that there is something for everyone in terms of flavour, nutrition and varieties, which is consistently being offered on a day-to-day basis,” Dhruvi Jain, Head of Marketing and Comms, Sodexo Education Services, added.
“The system that they have created here is according to food and dietary requirements. They have clearly taken tips from top nutritionists. All athletes are quite happy,” Inder Datta, UCM, Delhi University said.
Special attention is also being given to the fact that the food being provided is of top quality and the athletes are not facing any kind of medical issues after eating them.
“Samples of each food item is that being served in every meal are collected and stored in a refrigerated container. In case of the outbreak of any kind of gastroenteritis, vomiting, loose stools, etc. The samples will be checked for sample analysis every day, in all the three meals by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to maintain the standard of food quality,” Ms. Pramod said.
A lot of medical personnel have also been stationed at every venue to take care of athletes who may suffer injuries while training and competing. Several medical universities from across the city have associated with the KIUG 2021 to provide all forms of medical support to the athletes – including nurses, doctors, physiotherapists, and pharmacists. Medical vans are stationed at all the venus for medical emergencies with top-level medical equipment, and medicines for the athletes, who may suffer sprains while competing.
“First volunteers will inform us if there are any injuries. Then, with the assistance of our medical staff, which involve physiotherapists, nurses, and doctors, we will take them off the ground. Ambulances have been provided at every venue for medical emergencies,” Dr Gokul Reddy, BMCRI, said.
The medical team’s response time has been immediate throughout the tournament so far. Dr Sudip Chaudhary, PT, from Rajiv Gandhi Medical University, Bangalore, said – “It is the best medical care that is being provided here. I was at the football ground one day. We were giving immediate care to all the footballers, with all the important equipment they need.”