6 Tips To Improve Your Child's Nutrition This Summer
Next week our Summer Performance Camps (ages 10-13 and 14+) start up here at DSC and we cannot wait to get going!
Every summer kids of all abilities work hard at DSC to improve their athleticism, speed, strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, and injury prevention...and have a blast doing it!
It is incredible to see the progress our campers make, not only in their performance but also in their confidence over the course of the program.
One area (just as important as our youth's fitness) which we are going to work hard to improve this summer, is our camper's nutrition. Research shows summer is the unhealthiest season for our kids to due easier access to junk food and sugary drinks, less sleep, and more screen time.
We are excited to announce we will be including nutritional guidance to our camps, covering a variety of topics like how and why to eat a balanced breakfast, pre/post workout & game nutrition, healthy snacking, hydration, and more.
Now is the time to set the foundation for a life of healthy nutritional habits!
In fact, research has shown eating the right foods at a young age can:
Create long-term healthy eating habits
Help children maintain a healthy weight
Prevent and decrease the risk of various diseases and illnesses
Improve digestive health
Improve sport performance (speed, strength, stamina, injury prevention)
Improve brain development
Improve cognitive function (memory, attention, learning, attention, mood, anxiety, etc.)
Yes, the foods our youth consistently eat play a massive role in both their physical and mental development and well-being.
It's fascinating the more we learn about nutrition, the more we learn it's much more than just about weight gain and weight loss.
Proper nutrition improves everything from our child's development, to their mood, to their grades, to their performance on the field.
Now, we know what you're thinking. Your kids are picky eaters. Don't worry, you are not alone as most kids are.
Today we're going to help make things simple and break down how to improve your child's eating, step-by-step.
To get your children started, we've created a list of 6 tips to improve your child's nutrition this summer.
1| Lead By Example
You've probably heard the saying that you are the sum of the people you spend the most time with.
Well, it is true after-all.
Dr. David McClelland of Harvard University discovered after that 95% of our success, or failure, is determined by the people we spend the most time with. For your kids, that's you.
It's important to understand that in order to help our kids eat better, we need to set the example as parents and adopt a healthy lifestyle of our own. Set the tone, and your kids will follow.
Believe it or not, your kids are watching what you do, how you cook, how you eat and how you prepare food.
Much of how our children grow up is based upon the things and habits they observe us doing as parents vs. what we say.
What types of foods are you eating for breakfast?
What kinds of drinks are you having?
How do you shop and prepare foods?
What are your portion sizes like?
In what setting do you eat your food? Always on the go? In front of the TV?
This is the most CRUCIAL step in helping our children eat better.
For example, start simple by letting them see you consistently eating a healthy breakfast in the morning, preparing your meals for the day or week, drinking water, including a vegetable into your meals, etc.
Set your child up for long-term success by leading by a positive example when it comes to eating healthy.
2| Chase Progress, Not Perfection
Overhauling your child's entire nutrition isn't the best idea out of the gate. It will cause push back and make them feel overwhelmed, just as it would for you or me to do that.
This is the #1 reason why diets fail. They typically go from 0 to 100 and expect you to change all of your eating habits in a day.
To seek a sustainable approach, remember that real change and improvement comes from the accumulation of small wins.
This is known at the compound effect.
Instead, focus on small victories or improvements, day in and day out. It can be as simple as substituting a water for soda or juice at one meal per day. It can be recreating their favorite junk foods with healthier versions like making baked chicken tenders at home instead of grabbing the fried ones at the store.
Or sending your kids out the door with a belly full of protein-rich Greek yogurt and berries instead of that sugary cereal.
Making sure dinner each night is cooked at home.
Incorporating a vegetable they enjoy into their meals.
The beauty of these small, micro-level improvements is that they add up and build on each other.
Slowly, these improvements become habits.
By gradually lowering the amount of empty calorie snacks and drinks our kids consume and replacing them with more nutrient-dense, real foods, we can make a vast improvement in their nutrition over time.
3| Cut the Sugar
Cutting sugar is going to be one of the most powerful tools in improving your child's nutrition and overall health.
Eating excessive sugar has been shown to:
Cause sugar addiction
Increase depression and stress
Increase risk of illness and disease (did you know obese teens are already showing signs of heart disease?)
Increase insulin resistance
The biggest sugar-loaded foods are things like desserts and drinks like soda and juice.
Where it can get complicated is where food companies add sugar to foods we might think are healthy.
For example, you most likely would not let your child have dessert for breakfast, right?
As crazy as it sounds, many kid's cereals have more sugar in them than the dessert they eat.
To limit sugar:
Limit fruit juices and soda - stick to mostly water
Dilute sugary drinks like juice and chocolate milk
Choose lower-sugar cereals - introduce oatmeal and berries
Break the habit of nightly dessert
Have low sugar snacks like nuts, beef jerky, protein bars and fruit & peanut butter handy
4| Make It Easier to Eat Better
Recently researches asked kids about their breakfasts.
They started with what did you eat.
Here are some of the most common answers:
Honey Nut Cherrios
Then researches asked why they ate those foods.
Their answers: 1) It was there. 2) I was in a hurry. 3) It tastes good.
We as parents have control over those answers, especially numbers 1 and 2. We control what foods are in our house and if there are sugary, salty, junk foods in the house, they will eat it.
Start small by making healthier versions of the food they like easier to choose.
Have fresh fruit pre-cut up and ready in the fridge.
Switch to buying a healthier, less sugary cereal option.
Make some hearty muffins at night to have ready before school.
Have healthier after-school snack items available like string cheese, trail mix, protein bars, beef jerky, protein smoothies, or dinner leftovers.
Add a side of fruit to their morning toast or bagel.
Switch their morning juice out for water.
Aim to make it a little easier, healthier, and more accessible.
5| Include Your Children
One of the best things you can do to get your kids eating better and thinking about what they put into their body is to include them in different aspects of the process.
Take them grocery shopping.
Have them help you pick dinner recipes for the week.
Teach them how to cook and create their own meals and snacks with fresh, real ingredients.
Teach them why eating nutritious foods are important and what impact they have on their body.
This will have a profound impact on the nutritional habits they will have for life.
By including your children in the planning, preparing and cooking, you can make it fun for them. They will be instilling better habits, learning about food and how to make better choices. Their involvement helps them be active participants instead of having these better habits "forced" upon them, which for many results in more accountability and therefore better results!
This will make for great family time as well. :)
6| Join our Summer Youth Performance Camps
In just a few weeks our Summer Youth Performance Camps will be starting up for ages 10-13 and 14+.
We are excited to announce we will be adding a nutritional education component to the camps.
Each week we will be providing healthy recipes and nutritional information on topics like:
Starting each day with a balanced breakfast
Pre and post-workout nutrition (how to fuel your body to perform)
How to eat on game-day
How to read food labels
How to build protein smoothies
Our goal is to educate our campers on the importance of proper nutrition (especially how it relates to athletic performance), teach them how to make better choices and ingrain lasting nutritional habits.
If we can build a foundation of healthy nutritional habits now, our kids will be off to a great start for their future!