Before a session of FitKids last week, one of the kids asked me what would be a good snack to eat before class. I loved that he asked, because it was his first time at CrossFit and he was anticipating some tough physical activity and wanted to make sure he was prepared. What a cool thing to be 10 years old and be making a connection between nutrition and fitness!
I talk a lot about nutrition and food choices with my own kids, mostly because as long as they’ve been alive, I’ve been on a fitness/nutrition journey that is always evolving. Being curious, they’d ask me why I suddenly wouldn’t have a cookie or eat bread during a Paleo challenge at the gym. These have been such great moments to talk about food choices with my kids in a healthy way. Instead of telling them I am “on a diet,” I can talk about my fitness goals and how my food choices are so important to those. We talk about macronutrients on a basic level — getting protein, carbs and fat from more fresh foods than packaged foods, when possible. We also talk about what happens after a soccer game when the post-game snack is juice boxes and cookies (really?!) and how filling up on sugar instead of fuel makes them feel tired and cranky and that those things made me feel the same way.
I am not a nutritionist and could always learn and do more to improve my own kids’ choices, but the one thing I can try to do is help them make the connection that food is fuel. Do you love to play Little League for two hours? Can you be the best player if your fuel is a candy bar and a soda? After a few times of making that connection that what they put in their body had a negative effect on the way they were able to play a sport or enjoy time at an event, hopefully they will start to make the right choices on their own. But they need more information than, “That’s not good for you.”
I’ve been thinking about the Lurong Challenge starting up, and how it is the perfect time to bring your kids and families in on what you learn along the way. And as you continue to learn about nutrition going forward, let them see that, too. There is not really one way that works for anyone, but teaching kids that this is one of the most important ways to take care of ourselves and live fit, healthy lives is such an amazing gift to give.
Some resources I have found helpful:
Lilbeasts.com (tons of info about kids’ nutrition and fitness)
Nomnompaleo.com (really interesting lunch box ideas)
Superkidsnutrition.com (more info about nutrition, talking with kids about food, etc)