I first met Frank Vatrano when we were in high school and he was playing for the National team in Michigan. After his first full season at UMass Amherst, Frank was given an offer of a lifetime. He was about to live out the dream of every hockey player of playing for his home-state NHL team. Our small town of East Longmeadow was filled with excitement and pride as Frank finished off the 2015 season with the Providence Bruins.

In the past, Frank's diet was of an average student-athlete. But after entering the NHL, Frank turned into a healthy well-balanced eater. He was on-the-go most of the time and didn't think much about the nutritional value of his meals. Our dates almost always concluded with dessert and we didn't ever think twice about it. Now, we only order dessert once in a while as a treat. 

Unexpected Changes

Once signing with the Bruins in March 2015, he was placed on a strict diet and the results showed quickly. The guy who used to hate vegetables and smoothies had a reality check.

Being one of the most determined people I know, I knew he would take it seriously and step his game up to the next level. His nutritionist put him on a no-carb diet for his first summer as a Bruin. That left him with the only option: start trying new things. 

In order for Frank to compete at the top level of hockey, his diet needed to be altered in some ways. He learned to like different vegetables and new foods. Every time I visited him, there was a new food he found out that he liked. His hard work on and off the ice paid off when training camp came that September. He was 20 pounds lighter and ready to have a rewarding season.

Now, a year and a half later, he's a smoothie loving, tomato eating, carb-conscious athlete. He reaches for healthier options that will leave him feeling full for longer. 

New Tastebuds 

cereal, muesli
Rebecca Moses

For breakfast, Frank usually stops at a local juice bar thats near the practice rink. He's a new regular at Energize Boston. The guys working there know his usual açaí bowl order before he can even reach the counter. I tested this place out over the weekend and you should definitely give it a try if you're in the area. 

Being so busy during the season, he still needs his coffee fix. His new order at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts contains less added sugars and milk instead of cream. 

Lunch is usually a quick salad or something small. We visited Sweet Green in Boston this weekend and got salads with protein. This salad chain is a "make your own" salad type quick serve restaurant. It's a great healthy option for lunch and their salads are always fresh. They have locations all over the map.

salad, chicken, tomato, vegetable
Rebecca Moses

Frank usually needs a snack to get through until dinner time. He'll most often reach for a Green Mountain Creamery Greek Yogurt. They have some great fall flavors right now including pumpkin. It's a New England company based out of Vermont. They pride themselves on using the purest ingredients in their yogurts, one of them being fresh VT milk. Luckily, these yogurts can be purchased at specific stores across the New England area. 

But first, Breakfast

GrnMtnCreamery on Pinterest

For dinner, Frank will usually have a protein such as fish, steak, or chicken with a large portion of vegetables. When we're out to eat, he'll substitute his starch or pasta side for an extra side of vegetables. At home, his mom now swaps pasta with spaghetti squash so Frank can still enjoy her homemade meals.

His go-to dessert after dinner is Cool Whip with fresh strawberries. Sometimes he'll add peanut butter or chocolate chips to switch it up. It's a healthier option that easily takes care of your sweet tooth. 

Fat People Food

on Pinterest

During the season, Frank's diet is more lenient on what he can and can't have because he is doing so much physical activity during practices and games. He sticks to a much more strict diet throughout the off-season.

With some experimenting, Frank was able to find new dishes he liked and is now more open to trying new things. He was able to find healthier options by swiping one thing for another. Frank learned how important it is for athletes to maintain a healthy diet.

Today, he's in the best shape I've ever seen him in and sticking to his nutritionist's advice. His health conscious decisions even rub off on me sometimes (unless there is truffle mac n' cheese involved).

Five years later, we've both made some changes to our diets. Some more strict than others. (I probably have more cheat days than I should but whatever.) My will power is much weaker than Frank's. It just goes to show that exercise isn't the only key to staying healthy and keeping in shape. Nutrition and healthy choices play a huge role as well.