National Nutrition Month: Youth Athletes

Good morning!

I hope all is going well on your side, wherever you may be :)

Since March is National Nutrition Month I thought we could tackle the tough call of youth nutrition.

Our youth athletes nutrition needs differ from that of us old fogies, so we need to address some common concerns and mistakes as well as some thoughtful ways to help our young athletes thrive.

WATER.

Youth athletes (aged 8-18) dehydrate much faster than adults. In fact, they can dehydrate 40% faster than most adults in the same sport. So, it’s very important that we encourage our athletes to stay hydrated in a variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Nix the sodas on game and practice days.
  • Pack a bottle of water for lunch.
  • Remind them to get a drink from the fountain EVERY time they pass it.
  • Pack or take water to them for the game and/or practice.
  • On very hot days or practices lasting longer than 60 minutes, make sure they have a beverage to replace electrolytes. I prefer G2 for my athletes, but regular Gatorade is fine and can be watered down to reduce the sugar.

As you can see, it’s not about the time spent practicing. The majority of youth athletes ENTER practice and games already dehydrated! If you have a young athlete in your home, the responsibility is YOURS to educate them on hydration and cut the sugar and sodas out to ensure proper mental focus and muscle repair during periods of training and playing. Encourage them to drink throughout the day and they will begin to feel and see a difference in practice.

Pre-Game/Practice Fuel

Unfortunately, here the schools will not allow student athletes to eat prior to practice or games. Since lunch times often fall before noon and practice can extend past 6, many athletes are under nourished during game time and practice. If the school doesn’t allow it, what can a parent or guardian do? Lucky for us, we have resources to help :)

Many companies such as Gatorade now offer pre-game solutions. Gatorade has a carbohydrate chew that is safe for youth athletes (12 and up) and provides fast digesting carbs to fill the glycogen stores in the liver and muscles. This is precisely where we get energy. Youth can run out of these stores faster than adults simply due to the growth process. The trick with these is to remind your student to drink LOTS of water with the chew, otherwise it can upset the stomach.

A more whole foods approach can be found in certain bars.

My favorite for my guys is the Come Ready Nutrition Bar.

Come Ready Bars

I’ve spoken about this bar before and truly believe in it. It has a very good nutritional profile with ingredients you recognize. The taste is far beyond other bars on the market AND if you get them from your local Costco (mine is in the Galleria area in Houston), you pay less than $1 a bar….that makes it easy to share with the whole team. Go YOU!

If Costco isn’t working for you or nowhere near you, I recommend a virtual trip to Bodybuilding.com

Now, if your athlete has an issue with gluten** you’ll be glad to know that Come Ready Nutrition now has gluten-free kids bars that can help to fuel your athlete without the fuss. Check out more on those bars HERE.

Timing is key, so I have my kids take a bar to school. Before practice they can usually eat 1/2 the bar while dressing and then they eat the other 1/2 after. During games, I take a bar and meet them at the bus. Just last week my daughter had a tennis match and the coach told her she couldn’t eat her bar on the bus, so my daughter ate it with lunch (they love the bars). SIDE NOTE: most coaches have English or Math degrees and know NOTHING about nutrition. You CAN take food to your child pre game or practice….that is YOUR right as a parent or guardian. Moving on…..that match my daughter had a very hard time focusing and her energy was all over the place. THIS week, my husband took a bar to the match and she ate it when she got off the bus….her doubles won and she had focus and energy to spare.

Hydration and nutrition play the largest role in energy output, yet we do nothing to equip our athletes for success. Give them a fighting chance to be the best they can be!

Remember, nutrition matters :)

 

**Another side note here, because as a professional I feel it must be said: IF you think your child has an issue with gluten, PLEASE have them take a simple blood test with their doctor. By preemptively pulling gluten from their diet because you read something on Google, you can actually end up doing more harm in the long run. I know gluten-free is a big deal right now…..but fat-free was big in the 80′s so please proceed with caution. Same goes for yourself. If you think you have an issue, ask for a test from your doc to confirm.

 

 

Youth Athletes: Sports Nutrition and Training

Happy Monday!

I’m getting back into the swing of things since the Summer is winding down (sad, but so true). Today, I’m going to start off August with info on Youth Athletes. Your kid (if you have contact with ANY young athletes, this will help you!) can benefit greatly from proper knowledge on training and nutrition as the sports seasons start to come into full swing. Some youth prefer seasonal sports such as football and basketball, while others can play soccer or baseball seemingly year round. If you know youth (I’ll be working mainly with ages 8-17 here) then the knowledge you will gain during this month will prove priceless in keeping them on top of their game and injury free. Let’s get started!

Parents and Caregivers:It’s NOT about you…

Harsh start, I know. Here’s the real deal though: your kids chosen sport has nothing to do with you. If they chose baseball because it was your idea and your hopes are hung on them going farther than you did and reliving your glory days….it will end badly. Usually resulting in pushing too far which can ultimately lead to life long injury. Our jobs as parents and caregivers are to encourage them and help them along their own path…not relive our own.

Nutrition is PARAMOUNT during the training season.

Developing solid nutritional habits is the most important step you can take during training. They can run faster than anybody on the planet, but poor nutrition will outrun even the fastest kid. This can be difficult to understand as most people equate nutrition with weight. Nutrition is way bigger than weight, it’s about preventing injury and creating an environment in which the body can fully thrive. For example: a water loss of 10% (this is before the thirsty feeling kicks in) can cause delayed reaction times and dizziness. This means that if your athlete starts the game slightly dehydrated they have a higher chance of injury due to overcompensation. Too few carbs in the diet can lead to the body pulling from muscle during a training session or game. When the body begins to eat its own muscle, we experience painful cramps that can slow us completely. The body hits survival mode and your kids could be the one hitting the grass in severe pain. Poor refueling after training or games will result in muscle loss and encourage more catabolic behaviour within the body. The result? Your athlete will slowly begin to think that they aren’t “meant” for the sport…refuel properly and they have the best chance for keeping the muscle their body is trying to establish and raising the bar on the game itself. All because you rock as a parent :)

Consider hiring a professional.

PROFESSIONAL is the key term here. Interview the person that may be working with your athlete. Don’t assume they are qualified just because they work at a gym or for a sports facility. I know a lot of completely unqualified people who work in those arenas. It’s a simple question: are you certified to work with youth athletes? Follow up to a yes: May I see that certification? Aside from that, feel free to ask for records of CPR certification, insurance and any other specialties. I believe in making it a point to ensure you are hiring somebody who knows what they are doing, especially when it comes to your kids.

Educate your athlete.

The number one thing I have learned in working with young athletes is that mom and dad can’t just fall back on the Nike slogan JUST DO IT. Kids are ripe for planting knowledge. Explain to them WHY they need to drink their water. Explain the benefits of potassium and sodium in the diet. Explain why that double meat fast “food” burger isn’t nearly good enough to refuel after training. Size your response to questions based on your athletes age. My kids started learning about nutrition very young and now, they get it. They understand why they need to pay attention to their bodies and they dig the fact that we don’t do fast “food”. Why? Because it’s NOT food! It’s processed junk and the body would rather not use it to fuel muscle, so it gets stored. We have burgers…but they’re the really good ones :)

Every week I’ll bring you a recipe for pre-training/pre-game. This week:

Protein and Carb Pancakes

Both of my young athletes (and myself!) LOVE these things. They are the proper ratio of proteins to carbs (60/30) with just a tiny bit of fat (10) since you don’t want to train or play on a fatty stomach. Serve these 30-60 minutes prior to training/gaming and your athlete will be ahead of the pack already.

Ingredients:

2 whole eggs + 4 egg whites

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (you can use gluten-free if needed)

cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, etc for spice

OPTIONAL: 1 scoop whey protein, flavor of choice (I only recommend if your athlete is over 10 years old and pretty active)

milk of choice until consistency meets how your kids digs their pancakes (my kids like them pretty thick)

Mix together and cook in pan or on griddle until slightly golden brown.

Top with fruit (bananas rock!), natural honey or natural maple syrup.

The natural sugars will help with energy, but don’t overdo as too much sugar can upset the GI tract during vigorous activity.

 

 

Come back all month for more on keeping your athlete on the top of their game!

Michelle

Nutrition for the Next Generation

Nutrition Essentials

When it comes to feeding your family, there are some essentials to keep on hand and in mind so that everybody stays healthy:)

  • Wash and chop vegetables beforehand so they are readily available. Most grocers offer already prepped veggies too. Place them in baggies or reusable containers at eye level in the fridge. That way, when a snack attack hits, you’re ready.
  • Wash fruits and place them beside the sink. I have a fruit bowl beside my sink and keep it stocked with oranges, bananas and apples. Berries get washed and placed in the fridge. Watermelon and other melons are portioned out into containers and placed in a prominent place. That way when we get hot from playing we can easily get some healthy fuel.
  • Add some flavor. Both of my kids take veggies and a fruit to school every day. The veg is in a baggie and I always put a lemon and lime slice with them. The kids LOVE this as they can squeeze the slices over the veg to give it a better, more refreshing flavor.
  • Make your lean proteins in advance. I grill/broil chicken breasts, slice them, then place them in containers. This way I have them on hand for quick grab-n-go lunches and also ready to go dinners.
  • Keep plenty of frozen veggies on hand as well. This way you’re 5 minutes away from adding vegetables to your dinner. Nix the butter laden ones and go for fresh. Place them in a small pot with some chicken stock and play around with fresh herbs to season them. We really love fresh rosemary and parsley with our mixed veg.
  • Keep high fiber, whole grain crackers and breads on hand in the pantry. These help to fill you up and give you energy too.

Should you choose to keep treats in the house, go for some that have at least SOME nutritional value: dark chocolate, dark chocolate covered almonds, dried fruits, granola bars, protein bars, etc. keep these in a container in the pantry. i use a large white bin and keep it above eye level. That way these treats are there when we really want them, but we are less likely to eat them first.

Keep in mind that staying healthy is not as difficult as most think it is. With a small amount of planning and some dedication it is the easiest part of your day!

Stay healthy!

Michelle

 

How to feed your youth

One of the biggest debates that resides in the minds of parents and caregivers usually has to do with the nutrition of those in their care. I mean, it stands to reason right? We spend a lot of our time feeding ourselves and our loved ones. With childhood obesity on the rise, nutrition is honestly the forefront of winning this ever-growing battle. As parents and caregivers we have the ability to set our children up for a lifetime of good health OR a lifetime of poor health. The choice is all ours.

So, let’s start with the basics. The first fact is that we buy the food in the house. I mean, I don’t send my 10-year-old to the store alone to pick up that weeks groceries. So, the first thing is to make sure that you are involved in planning the food for the week. Think ahead, just like you would if you’re planning a big road trip. Make sure that you have PLENTY of healthy snacks on hand at all times. Fresh fruits and vegetables are very appealing to young taste buds IF they are already washed and ready to go. I wash my fruits and veg after the store trip, then chop them up and put them into small containers. These containers are then placed in a prominent place in the fridge: EYE LEVEL. Yes, I know there are several drawers for this purpose, but when was the last time you dug into the drawer as opposed to hitting the chips in the pantry? Yeah, EYE LEVEL. The bright colors and freshness of the produce has been shown to create an immediately favorable response. That means if it’s available and ready to eat, kids will reach for it!

Another tip is to limit the amount of processed junk that is allowed to hang out in the house. It doesn’t mean that chips will never again cross the threshold of your kitchen, BUT it does mean that in the fight to better health, these foods are limited and no longer deserve permanent residence in your bread box. You and child deserve better food and better health, simple as that. So the chips, cookies and candies are bought only on special occasions. This will begin to treat the emotional dependency on food for comfort.

Potions are usually out of control for most of us. I know I can put away MASSIVE amounts of food if left to my own devices! When in doubt, use your hands as your guide. Protein will fit in the center palm, veggies take up 2 handfuls, grains are a closed fist, and fats are the tip of both thumbs. This holds true for your kids as well. Far too often we as parents give our children the same amount we eat and sometimes even more. We over feed to show love (totally different post!) and this causes a world of health issues. Stay within your childs portions and when they aren’t hungry, don’t force them to eat it all. In our home, we simply put leftover food away and if my daughter pops up “starving” an hour later, we reheat. Most times kids just may not be hungry at the time. If your child is chronically not hungry, look at the amount of snacks being eaten as well as the amount of movement between meals. Ever notice how little Timmy is famished when he gets home from school, but after a snack and some TV he’s not interested in a healthy dinner?

Last, don’t put your child on a “diet” of any kind. Children need to focus on the nutrients they get (adults too, but again: different post) and by placing children on any type of diet, we cut out essential nutrients that they need to grow. This will affect growth of healthy tissue as well as brain function. So, let the focus be on gaining more access to better nutrition and they will be set for life :)

Be sure to check back tomorrow for a fun family game that incorporates fitness into game night!

In good health,
Michelle

The BEST Medicine

There is a growing trend in the United States that many have gotten on board with far too quickly. It’s skirting. Yes, I said skirting. What is that? That’s where there is a predominant issue that people skirt around instead of attacking it head on. There are far too many people who don’t want conflict and FAR too many parents and guardians who just don’t want to put up a fight. Now, before I dive in to what could possibly be the most informative blog I’ve written thus far (wow, strong promise) I need to tell you that these truths are not limited to those struggling with obesity. When I speak of nutrition, I am talking about the health and wellness of every age, size, shape, and sex. OK, ready for some serious eye-opening? Let’s jump in….

1. Did you know that food is medicine? This is not some new age drama ok, that is real. I have come to the realization that on the day we go over how the digestive system works, we skip all the important stuff and most people were seemingly sleeping. You see, in grade school (and all the way up really) we are taught about the body “systems” right? All separate, all functioning independently. So, when we end up disease ridden, it gets confusing! What, when, how, how much and how well you eat effects your entire body. I had NO idea until I became a nutritionist. I thought of food the same way most of you do: it’s just food. What does it matter? Oh, it matters all right. Scientists are studying the affects of certain foods EVERYDAY and have made some amazing discoveries. Shall we

* Of course, most of us know that good old-fashioned oatmeal (not instant) was the first food to receive a superfood status due to its ability to lower cholesterol. This is due to the fact that oatmeal has large amounts of fiber (both soluble and insoluble) that help grab on to the “leftovers” that tend to pile up in the internal organs, specifically the small and large intestine. Did you learn that in school? Didn’t think so. We’re taught that food goes in one end and out the other. PLEASE! We are far more complex creations and it’s time we learn that! Oatmeal has also been praised for its prevention (note that prevention is based on studies denoting the diet and lifestyle of individuals who avoid disease) of certain cancers, namely colon, rectal, colorectal, and stomach. Gives oatmeal a more favorable lighting right? I enjoy mine every morning.

* Cabbage is the most recent food to join in the fight against cancer. Although scientists are still uncovering the reasons (high vitamin content being one, probiotic probabilities being another) cabbage has been proven to prevent certain cancers including colon, colorectal, rectal, breast, thyroid and even skin cancer. Cabbage has also shown signs of aiding in cancer treatment for those with cancer of the intestines, colon, etc. especially when the cabbage is fermented (sounds gross, but it’s just like pickled cabbage). So, cancer prevention and treatment makes that cole slaw a little more appealing right?

* Yogurt. I’m talking plain, Greek yogurt here people. You start adding problems with the flavors. The probiotic in yogurt helps aid in digestion and eases many of the symptoms of digestive system discomforts such as bloating, sensitivity to foods, and even water retention. Though the scientists are still out on the effects yogurt has on certain diseases, it is a great food to add to a healthy diet.

2. If food can be medicine, it can also be poison. Since we are taught that food simply goes in and out (you couldn’t be farther from the truth!) we tend to just eat whatever is handy. And thanks to generations before us making life “easier” we have eased our way into a diseased culture wondering what went wrong. Diets high in processed foods and low in healthy, natural foods rule in our nation and have caused outbreaks of type 2 diabetes, cancers, and intestinal disease. Why? Because we just want to shovel food in and get on with life. We are busy people! And when we go see a trainer to combat that extra fat in our midsection, they tell us it’s a simple equation of calories in = calories out. WRONG! They must have attended the same grade school we did….

* Scientists have found a direct link between SUGAR and CANCER. Read that again please. Now, let’s break that down. Scientists have PROVEN that CANCER cells FEED off of SUGAR. The scary thing is that this is not new news. This was proven over a decade ago yet we all still march around eating our candy and drinking our cokes. By the way, those who turn your nose up and say, “Well, I’m more of a salty person” check your treats. Processed foods, especially the salty ones, are packed and packaged with man-made sugars. What’s worse is we give this loaded gun to our kids almost DAILY. It’s like playing russian roulette with their health and it’s sickening.

The important thing to note here is that we all HAVE cancerous cells floating around in our bodies. Yep, totally true. The issue with prevention is that we’re trying to prevent them from mutating (and not the cool way like Spiderman). So, if cancer feeds off of sugar and we already have cancer cells in the body…..STOP GIVING THEM FOOD! Sheesh. By the way, I’m talking about man-made SUGAR. That’s table sugar and anything ending in OSE on the label that you should certainly be reading. Fruit has natural sugars and is a different post entirely. Oh, and those with your nose turned up because you are far better than others since you drink Diet Coke are headed down a one way path to metabolism and hormone failure so think twice. Fake sugars go in and DON’T come out, which is even worse…

* The fats to look out for are trans fats and saturated fats. PLEASE do not go fat-free, it’s bad for both your brain and your mood. Trans fats are man-made fats that came into existence in the 60′s. Hey, what else was popular then? ;) Maybe that’s where they thought them up… Anyways, they are put into food to make it, once again, easier. Ditch them to prevent cancer and other obesity related diseases.

WOW! So much info, such a long post. Why? Because I am watching people die from the fact that they were never fully told about these things and it makes me sick! We are beautifully created human beings that must take care of this creation. And if you have kids, you are responsible for setting them up with a lifetime of health. Does that mean you can never have a candy bar? Of course not! We are human after all. it means that you must start thinking about what you ingest. You don’t drink gasoline do you? But you might chug a soda…there’s no difference once it hits the internal organs. Think!

By the way, did you know that nutrition is an elective for doctors? Oncologists are not required to have it. Neither are cardiologists or even endocrinologist. Interesting…..

Food for thought: make 1 dietary change per week. Just one. Don’t be in a rush since every change you make will help you live a healthier life. Get the kids involved! Let them pick out some items for the grocery list. Allow them to pick new things to try to clean up favorite dishes. Children are sponges with this stuff and it is better to teach them young than for them to have to fight a battle with a disease they never should have had! Take responsibility and move forward!

Michelle

Welcome to YOUTH Health, Fitness, and Safety Month!

I cannot get more excited about a topic than I am right now! Of all the certifications and specialties I hold, I think youth training and nutrition is by far my biggest passion. The reasons are really hard to number, but I’m sure it’s due to the fact that I have 2 wonderful children of my own :)

So, for the entire month of April we will be discussing the following issues surrounding the health of our youth:

  • Initiating movement and making exercise fun.
  • Family fitness.
  • Special nutrition needs of youth.
  • Hydration for the youth athlete.
  • Youth sports nutrition.
  • Injury prevention.
  • Foundations for health and Fitness.
  • Family meals and kid friendly recipes.
  • Kid Fit: Ideas for finding fitness at any age.
  • Different ages and stages: recognizing when and what to teach your children about health, fitness and nutrition.

Keep in mind that you do not have to be a parent to be a positive influence in the lives of children. You CAN help improve the health of the kids you come into contact with everyday!

Check back soon for more information on youth health, fitness and safety month!

Michelle