This summer, I spoke at a high school elite basketball camp and a grade-school basketball camp about…
I know. What kid actually cares about this kind of stuff?
Well, you can imagine why I was both enlightened and perplexed.
Enlightened: Because I could share all of the mistakes I made and possibly impact their health at such a young age! (Oh, if only I knew then what I know now…!)
Perplexed: Because where do I begin covering “healthy eating,” when these kids are taught a curriculum of eating grains and drinking cooked milk, and fed pizza as a ‘vegetable’ in their school lunches?
How should I present the information to KIDS, when their parents make so many of the grocery and meal decisions?
After much contemplation, I stuck to the broader topics of athlete myths, truths, and facts surrounding sugar, fat, and carbs for performance.
And surprisingly, my doubts about getting the message across were trumped by lightbulbs going off…and engagement.
To one group of 45 kids all basically drinking Gatorades or Powerades (with them raised in the air after I asked!), I explained:
- That these drinks have more sugar than a candy bar.
- And they’re loaded with food dyes linked to behavioral disturbances (think A.D.D. and A.D.H.D.).
- So, if the goal is to be a high performing machine and Gatorade actually harms health and recovery, then, why drink it?
The lightbulbs started to go off…
One bold 12-year-old even asked about diet soda and diet sports drinks, “Because I heard they have ‘aspartame’?” (I think my jaw dropped at that question…!)
Educating kids about healthy food is a difficult task, but it should and could be simple.
What is “healthy food?” It’s real. It grows… It’s not from a cardboard box or a bag. It is the medicine that fuels performance. Way, way more than exercise.
The following 11 simple sports nutrition truths that I put together for both campers and parents are simple, too.
If you’re an athlete or know someone who is, please; heed this advice for the health of it. And share it! It may just spark some more lightbulbs…
My hope is to raise awareness – whether young or old, whether a weekend warrior or professional athlete – that YES, our bodies are machines on the field and court.
However, they are first and most importantly machines for US; what we put into them greatly affects our bodies and brains both immediately and especially long-term.
- For 5 ways to fuel for performance, recovery, and immunity, read here.
- For a professional athlete’s journey to a gluten-free, dairy-free, whole foods diet, read here.