SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — One of the most important things a parent can do is to help their children develop healthy eating habits.

When it comes to kids who are active and involved in various sports, good nutrition is critical.

Many parents have had their share of challenges when it comes to getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. A well-balanced diet can be so elusive for kids sometimes.

According to one local sports nutritionist, good nutrition can not only improve a young person’s overall health but sports performance as well.

24-year-old Emily Sheehan, Director of Sports Performance at Riverfront Sports, knows what it takes to be a well-trained athlete.

As a young girl, Emily was a standout on the basketball court, for Dunmore High School and The University of Scranton.

Emily’s enthusiasm for sports led her to a career in sports nutrition here at Riverfront Sports in Scranton.

She helps boys and girls ages 11 to 18 with their strength and conditioning training.

“Just how I was fortunate to have with all the coaches I had so I wanted to be that person for someone else and help them develop into a better athlete,” Sheehan said.

In addition to being a certified sports nutrition coach, Emily recently added author to her title.

Sports Performance Nutrition for Athletes is a guide to healthy nutrition, and it also features healthy recipes. Emily believes you are what you eat.

“If you put the right things in your body if you fuel your body the correct way it gives you more of an opportunity to optimize your performance,” said Sheehan.

And optimizing your performance comes from a healthy diet that consists of three main food groups, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

“We want to push protein after you work out, after a game, once you break down muscles you build it back up with protein,” Sheehan explained.

Tips Eli Yusavage has followed. This 17-year-old high school senior is a shooting guard for the Valley View Cougars, plus plays travel basketball.

With a goal of a district championship on the horizon, this player isn’t taking any chances.

“Before Emily, I was eating a lot of junk food. Every teen eats junk, seeing her I knew I needed to get down to what’s right, lots of protein,” said Yusavage.

Even Eli Admits, maintaining a healthy diet is a slam dunk for his performance.

“We didn’t have any players hurt, we’re all healthy, we saw huge growth in our game,” Yusavage said.

Emily advises parents to be role models, and she says don’t give kids a lot of junk food options. If you eat healthily and exercise, chances are your kids will emulate you.

You can pick up a copy of Emily’s book, Sports Performance Nutrition For Athletes, for $60 at Riverfront Sports in Scranton.