Eating to Win

A low additive (not fully failsafe) eating plan for sporting teams


Canberra Teeball coach Sheryl Sibley wrote the information sheet below for her Under-10 Girls Teeball team in the 2004 competition. 'I knew the girls would have to maintain focus and stamina, so I requested a junk food ban 2-3 weeks before the competition', Sheryl explained.

The ban paid off. Sheryl's team went on to win all 9 matches in 3 days to become undefeated ACT champions.

'These were all normal kids who had never been diagnosed with anything, yet the parents could see a difference' said Sheryl. 'It was a long, tough competition, but everyone was happy. There were no tears or complaints afterwards as often happens. The girls showed exceptionally sustained skill, focus and teamwork, beyond what you would expect for their age'.

Telling the team members and parents

Three weeks before the competition, Sheryl gave players the information below together with a covering note to parents, explaining the advantages of additive-free eating (better coordination, concentration, cooperation, improved stamina and better able to cope with heat stress), and encouraged them to become 'additive spotters' by checking labels.

She told her team that if they wanted to eat junk food, they would probably be sitting on the bench, as there was no way they would be performing at their optimum.

Player support

The players also encouraged and kept a watch on each other - 'you don't need gatorade cause if you drink too much it will make you feel sick', 'don't eat that... you'll be on the bench and you won't be able to play!', 'hey, we can eat this if we don't get the flavouring!', 'are any of these lollies ok to eat?' (they checked everything over the weekend), 'I can't eat it now, but I can eat it after the carnival finishes'.

Under-10 boys team

The information below was handed out later to the boys under-10 team. After losing their first two games, the boys made a noticeable effort to stay additive-free. They won the next seven games in a row, including the final, to become the Under-10 Boys Teeball Champions.

More information

For more information, contact Sheryl S This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Dear Parents:

Thank you for your effort in considering and working towards an Athlete Friendly diet in the lead up to the State Championships.

We KNOW that this is time consuming and hard work, we know there is a lot more effort in ‘cooking it yourself’ as opposed to ‘picking it up on the way home’.

We also know that you and your Athletes have made a commitment to participating and doing well at this tournament, and we know that in terms of stamina, endurance, performance and even just ‘feeling good inside your own skin’, the elimination of additive laden, highly processed food is EXTREMELY beneficial.

These budding Athletes will be better for it, and their chances for both team and personal success will be optimised. We want these kids to succeed in every aspect: physically, emotionally, personally and as a team.

A further guideline: "What to eat during the Tournament" will follow shortly, after you’ve had some time to absorb the current information and ask any questions. Further information relating to additives can be obtained at the website

We look forward to the State Championships being a healthy, positive and fun experience for EVERYONE!


Where to buy: (details from your local failsafe contact)

Preservative Free Bread- (NOT fruit loaves, flavoured breads, bread with cheese, ham, etc.)

*Brumbies Bread
*Bakers Delight

Preservative Free Sausages-

Preservative Free Margarine-

* NUTTELEX available at Coles and Woolworths


Fuelling your Body for a Top Carnival

The following guidelines for what to eat over the duration of the Softball Carnival have been compiled with input from:

NRL Sports Dietitians
Royal Prince
Alfred Hospital Allergy Clinic
Australian Institute of Sport Nutrition Department

Athletes should eat little and often throughout the tournament, in preference to fewer large meals. The aim is to have a steady, even supply of fuel for the body, rather than sudden surges of energy followed by a dive.

A surge and dive cycle leads to impaired on field performance and concentration, and will also affect the athletes’ enjoyment of and participation in the Competition. It is for this reason that lollies have been omitted from the lists – lollies lead to the surge and dive cycle; are made with additives that can affect behaviour, concentration and performance; and the greater the number eaten, the greater the impact on the athlete.

Carbohydrate needs are better served by choosing other cereal or grain based carbohydrate-rich snacks from the list – they will also fill your stomach for longer and release energy in a more stable fashion.

The best drink for the duration of the Carnival is WATER.

It should be sipped frequently throughout the day during games and warm-ups, and also through the evening to ensure good hydration and assure the body’s ability to cope with heat, nerves and perspiration.

As far as surviving a tournament goes, it is best to be prepared and bring your own supplies with you, rather than be at the mercy of whatever is available when you get there. If you prepare your food to bring, then you are in control of the ingredients, the freshness, the taste AND the time you eat – no waiting in a cue to buy food and then not being able to eat because it is time for the next game. Always include a bit extra than normal to cover the unexpected.

Canteen type food should be avoided. Pies, hotdogs, sausage rolls, sausage sizzles, chips, lollies and soft drinks are NOT good fuel for a body in the middle of a competition. These foods tend to be higher in saturated fat, sugar and salt; higher in additives and preservatives; more expensive and do not provide adequate nutrition for athletes trying to compete in a round-robin style competition. Canteen choices should be limited to sandwiches, bread rolls and bottles of water. Keep in mind that eating a ‘junk’ choice at the end of each day is not wise – what you eat tonight fuels your body for tomorrow, and you need the best possible start. If you are craving ‘junk’ treat yourself at the completion of the tournament, not in the middle!

You don’t have to go over the top with your food selections, just be aware and make suitable, sustainable choices. If you put time into being prepared for eating during the tournament, then it will complement all the hard work you have been doing during the past months of training.

You owe it to yourself to have the best experience possible!

Appropriate Breakfast Suggestions:

Pancakes with cereal, fruit, vanilla yoghurt and milk. Cereal could include porridge, add toast if you need to. Make your choice according to your appetite and nerves – DON’T force yourself to eat a large breakfast if you are not hungry – a small starter, followed by a snack a little later may suit some athletes better than a feast! Don’t forget WATER all day – keep juice as a one off.

Appropriate Lunch Suggestions:

sandwiches or rolls, with fillings like mashed banana, cheese and salad, egg and salad, home made rissole (cooked the night before) with salad on a roll.

Fruit such as pears, bananas, red apples (give grapes and green apples a miss as they can cause stomach pains if there is not much else in your stomach). Don’t go for spicy or rich fillings. Yoghurt to accompany sandwiches and rolls at lunch, and if you’d rather have your bread plain, you could include some carrot and celery sticks, cheese and a boiled egg. Three bean mix in addition to lunch will offer carbohydrate and protein.

Appropriate Dinner Suggestions for Before and During the Carnival:

Simple meals such as a plain BBQ with salad, bread, plain pasta or rice. Forget about using special seasonings: plain and simple is a good rule of thumb during competition – there is no need to eat ‘pasta till your stomach pops’, and spicy or rich foods should be avoided – sleep is vital and shouldn’t be compromised by consuming a spicy or rich dinner – it will be hard enough to sleep well due to pre-tournament excitement and anxiety.

Desserts could include rice pudding or bread and butter pudding (omit the dried fruit due to preservatives) or a simple homemade apple crumble with some vanilla yoghurt or a little plain vanilla ice cream (colour free such as Peter's Original Vanilla, or Sarah Lee French Vanilla). Again, yoghurt is a suitable addition to dinner time.

Snacks throughout the duration of the carnival should be chosen from:

Plain rolls and bread, (if you don’t like them plain, then you could add a bit of jam or honey), pikelets are great – easy to eat and light on the stomach, plain cake, scones, rice cakes and corn cakes, plain rice crackers, plain salada type crackers, home made oat bars or anzac biscuits, fruit to accompany the above suggestions, a handful of nuts if you have no allergies to worry about – cashews are easy on the stomach. You could also try the plain ‘Delico Rice Pudding’ snacks to complement your snack choices, and for those who like little else, plain biscuits like milk arrowroots are also useful.

***Try using the following brands to avoid unnecessary colourings and preservatives:

Nestle Naturals Yoghurts, Delico Ryzogalo/Rice Pudding, Arnotts Plain Sweet Biscuits, Bakers Delight Plain Breads, Erindale Bakery Plain Breads, Brumby’s Plain Breads, SunRice plain Ricecakes, Sakata Plain Rice Crackers

Good Luck for Your Competition!


Additives most likely to cause problems (a laminated card for schools)


Some useful recipes (from the Failsafe Cookbook by Sue Dengate)

Rolled oat bars

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 cups rolled oats
150 g pure butter (eg. Butter Soft)

Combine flour, oats and sugar in a bowl. Melt butter, add golden syrup and mix into dry ingredients. Press into slice tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown. Cut into bars while still hot, leave to cool before removing from tray. Makes about 20.

Quick processor scones

3 cups self raising flour
¼ tsp sea salt
1-2 tbsp pure butter or Nuttelex margarine
about 1 cup of milk

Put flour, salt and butter in food processor and process until blended. Add liquid slowly until dough sticks together in a soft, wet clump. Knead on a lightly floured board, roll out, cut into squares or with scone cutters, place on a lightly greased oven tray and bake in a hot oven 230°C for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm wrapped in a clean cloth in a basket or freeze and freshen up in the microwave. Good with butter, golden syrup or jam. These are popular for afternoon tea and suitable for lunchboxes.


1 egg
¼ cup sugar
about ¾ cup milk
1 cup self raising flour
¼ tsp salt
pure butter, Nuttelex margarine or vegetable oil (eg antioxidant-free sunflower oil) for cooking

Beat egg and sugar until thick, stir in milk, add flour and beat until smooth. Cook in spoonfuls in a hot lightly greased frypan. Serve with sweet or savoury toppings.

Big Anzacs

1 cup plain flour
2 cups rolled oats
¾ cup sugar
125 g pure butter or Nuttelex margarine
2 tbsp golden syrup
2 tsp soda bicarb
2 tbsp boiling water

Mix together flour, oats and sugar. Melt butter and golden syrup together. Mix bicarbonate with boiling water and add to butter mixture. Pour into blended dry ingredients and stir to combine. Place large spoonfuls of mixture onto greased oven tray, leaving room to spread. Bake at 160°C for 20 mins.

Wade's sausage rolls

500 g low-fat mince
3 chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Pampas Butter Puff pastry ready-cut sheets
sea salt to taste

Preheat over to 180°C. Mix mince with shallots, garlic, parsley and salt. Cut pastry sheets in half. Place a sausage shape of mince in the middle of the sheet. Roll over, prick top. Cut to required lengths. Bake 20 minutes or until cooked.

Margie's lunchbox muffins

1½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup white or brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil (eg. pure sunflower or canola)
½ cup chopped fresh or canned pears

Sift flour into a bowl and add remaining ingredients, stirring with a fork until mixed. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with canola oil and three quarter fill cups with mixture. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes.



****Basic, plain, healthy staple-diet kind of foods. YOU be in-charge of what’s added, not surprised by what’s hidden!!!****

Fresh Meat
Plain Rice
Plain Pasta
Plain or Vanilla Yoghurt
Plain Milk/Soy Milk
Mild Cheeses
Plain breads and rolls

Sugar is OK


Plain and unflavoured: Rice cakes, Corn cakes, Corn chips, Popcorn, Pretzels, ‘jatz’ type crackers, ‘ryvita’ type crackers, *Sakata rice crackers (*other plain varieties have added MSG), Arnotts plain biscuits , (eg arrowroot, not cream)
Peters Lemonade Icypoles
Plain Ice cream
Plain Kettle chips
Pascalls marshmallows (white only)
Milky Bar White Chocolate (in moderation!)
Bottled Schweppes Lemonade, not cans (no colour, no preservatives)
Home Made ‘Takeaway’: -burgers, -chips, -pizza, -chicken, -sausage rolls, -pies, -stir fries

YOU control the ingredients and fat added!

Home made Cordial
Home made or Darrell Lea butterscotch
Home made plain cake with white icing (not coloured)
Home made shortbreads
Home made Anzac Biscuits (no coconut, extra oats) or Muesli Bars made from a similar recipe.

What foods are OFF LIMITS?

****Anything with added colouring, flavouring, preservatives, flavour enhancers. Check the ingredient label! If you can tell it was developed in a laboratory or processed to within an inch of its life, then DON’T EAT IT!

Take Away Foods: McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Hungry Jacks, Pizza, Chinese, Etc., etc… includes ‘Fish & Chip Shop’ foods – all are too high in fat and additives!

TV dinners and packet meals

School Lunch Treats: Pies, Sausage rolls, Hot dogs , mini pizza, Nuggets, ‘yummy drummies’ etc, doughnuts, fairy bread, instant noodle meals, flavoured chips, flavoured corn chips, twisties, cheetos, burger rings etc, noodles with flavour sachets and other packet snack foods.

ALL Snack Biscuits: for example- Pizza & BBQ shapes, ‘…in-a-biscuit’, dippers, Savoury tiny teddy snacks etc, etc, etc.

Coloured, flavoured lollies
Coloured, flavoured ice cream
Coloured, flavoured icypoles
Sports drinks eg Powerade, Gatorade etc
Soft drink
Caffeine enhanced drinks/ energy drinks
Commercial BBQ chicken (loaded with flavour enhancers you can’t see!)
Commercial Muesli Bars (coconut, fruit and oil in these bars have preservatives, and the bars have fat added)
Bread with 282 or whey powder
Cup-a-soups, stock cubes (added flavour enhancers)

The information given is not intended as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor for underlying illness. Before beginning dietary investigation, consult a dietician with an interest in food intolerance. You can see our list of experienced and supportive dietitians 

© Sue Dengate update Jul 2004