Nutritional Gymnastics- The Dos and Don’ts to give your kids the edge they need
A young gymnast’s life is full of health benefits: challenging physical exercise, discipline, and of course, FUN!
But it can also be a grueling existence for both parents and kids. From the insane amount of driving to and from practice, to striking that healthy balance of homework, gymnastics and family time, this sport requires energy and strength from the entire family.
The more sustained energy you and your gymnast have, the easier you can meet the demands of this endeavor. As humans, our source of energy and immunity is-
But what we need is more real food.
With the average American getting over 60% of their calories from processed foods, it’s no wonder we are a nation of perpetually sick people, among other possibilities, sure, but what you feed your child is critical to the immune system.
When it comes to your child’s nutrition, simplicity is best. It’s time to get back to real food.
Check out these simple tips of what to avoid and what to stock up on for the young gymnast. And it’s NOT just for the kids: following these guidelines will make your whole family healthier and happier.
What To Avoid
For years we looked for items in the grocery store with the “low fat” label. Little did we know, our true enemy is in fact processed sugar. Processed sugar not only keeps us fat and tired, it feeds disease. The energetic effects sugar brings are short-lived, followed by sharp crashes.
If that isn’t bad enough, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse found in brain scans that sugar addiction actually changes our brains the same way as frequent alcohol and cocaine use.
Children are literally the LAST demographic that should be consuming processed sugar!
Unfortunately, the sweetest stuff on the shelves is marketed specifically towards little ones to get them hooked early. Think tobacco companies and their mission to hook youngsters. It’s the same sinister agenda.
So check your ingredients. Keep the cookies, candies, and soft drinks out of the house. Your kids can’t drive yet; they’re going to make due with what’s in the pantry.
Creepy Additives: Artificial Dyes & Sweeteners
The potential harm these can inflict on children is downright SCARY! An FDA study claims that additives such as artificial food coloring and flavors can trigger or exaggerate behavior disorders and learning disabilities in children.
When you see those unusually bright pink “fruit” snacks, RUN! Don’t walk from this poison.
Artificial dyes and sweeteners are just that: ARTIFICIAL. They are NOT found in nature, but created synthetically in labs to make food last longer or appear bright pink to appeal to, you guessed it, your children.
So again, check the ingredients. Just say NO to fake food dyes and artificial sweeteners (YES that includes Splenda). A good rule of thumb used by nutritionists is if you can’t pronounce it or you’ve never heard of it, don’t feed it to your family.
What To Stock Up On
Greens & Whole Foods
Really any market near you that sells food products that don’t add artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.
Plant foods with nothing added do not contain any potentially harmful ingredients. They are also full of wonderful things called Phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals prevent disease, bolster the immune system and give the body clean, prolonged energy.
The more phytochemical you consume, the healthier you will be.
Add more fruits and veggies to your family’s plate. Take the stigma away that eating vegetables is a chore. There are countless recipes online that will get your little gymnast loving those brussel sprouts or sweet potatoes. It’s simply a matter of creativity and trial and error.
Involve your children in these choices. Experiment on this path to health with them. It’s a fun way to bond and more importantly, can set them up to make healthy nutritional choices for life.
Healthy Proteins & Snacks
Children who exercise regularly need a generous protein intake. But most people don’t know that PLANTS contain protein! We’ve been trained to think we need a huge slab of meat at every meal to get enough, but that simply isn’t the case. We have the powerful meat and dairy lobbies to thank for this.
Keeping those plates filled with veggies will supply your kids with more than enough protein for gymnastics. Wild fish is also an excellent protein source, as well as grass-fed organic beef. Since processed meat in America today is loaded with antibiotics and hormones, try to stick with organic when feeding your family meat products.
Healthy snacks are a must after school. Since we are avoiding the processed stuff, we want to again look to whole foods for snacking.
Nuts and seeds, dried fruits, and whole grains are amazing energy sources. Nuts contain healthy fats and proteins and are perfect for before practice. Encourage your kids to make their own trail mix or nut bars using the above ingredients.
For a sweet treat, blend up frozen bananas with your favorite nut butter or cacao powder. Or check online for homemade dessert recipes that use honey. For the occasional cookie, look for brands that use organic cane sugar. For a tasty beverage, make a lemonade with grade B maple syrup and lemon juice.
Get back to REAL FOOD. Yes, the supermarket is full of processed junk. Yes, your kids are going to continue to ask junk because of the eye-catching marketing of food companies. Let’s not forget the addictive properties of sugar either.
However, you will find that more and more American parents are waking up to the dangerous effects of processed food on their children. The internet has an unlimited amount of resources to help you creatively follow the above guidelines. If you do, your family will have all the energy and immunity they need to make it to every practice, every competition.