If your child wants to run faster, jump higher, swim harder or throw better, spending more time at practice and the gym are likely the first ideas that come to mind.
But according to the authors of the newly released Feeding the Young Athlete, what your kids are eating may be the key to better athletic results. “No matter what age you are, eating better is one of the easiest ways to improve your performance,” says Bastyr University faculty member Cynthia Lair, CHN, who wrote the recipe and guidebook with former Bastyr faculty Scott Murdoch, PhD, RD.
“If your child is running out of energy in the second half of a game, or even 20 minutes into it, these are food issues,” says Lair, director of curriculum for Bastyr's Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Culinary Arts program. “There’s a good chance they just didn’t eat enough at breakfast.”
Teaching Youths the Power of Food
As the parents of young athletes, Lair and Dr. Murdoch wrote the book with their own experiences in mind. They offer lists of foods to buy at the store, what to pack in your kids’ lunch box, recipes of foods to fuel them up before games, and where and what to eat when you’re on the road.
But the book isn’t just for young athletes. Lair says the tips and recipes in the book are applicable to anybody who exercises, including herself.
“I use all the advice in the book. If I’m going to go to an exercise class, I make sure that I eat an hour-and-a-half before it begins,” she says, explaining that eating too long before or after that window decreases your ability to use that food as energy.
One of the bigger goals of the book is simply teaching healthy eating habits at a young age.
“When we wrote this book, we saw an opportunity to educate parents and kids about how food affects performance,” Lair says. “When a child or teenager can actually see their performance improve because of what they’re eating, it changes their relationship with food.”
Too often, people wait to begin watching what they eat until they’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes or other illnesses that can be prevented through diet.
“This is a way to get people interested in what they’re eating,” says Dr. Murdoch co-founder of the meal-planning website NutriStyle. “It’s hard to get kids change what they eat to prevent heart disease.”
First Book of its Kind
Lair and Dr. Murdoch wrote the first edition of Feeding the Whole Family in 2002.They both had sought out such a book to help their own kids perform better on the field — and found there was no such book available.
“There was so little known about children and sports that we actually had a hard time finding research for our book,” Dr. Murdoch says.
What they found was a lot of scientific jargon that few parents would find helpful. Between Lair’s culinary focus and Dr. Murdoch’s science background, they were able to translate the jargon into user-friendly language appealing to both parents and children.
Their new reissue of the book from Readers to Eaters takes the user-friendly approach to the next level, with the addition of color, attitude and a lot more about nutrition.
“In 2002, we kind of closeted the idea of whole foods because it just wasn’t in the mainstream,” Lair says. “It was really fun to rewrite this knowing that it’s now completely acceptable to talk about quinoa.”
Recipes range from Whole Grain Banana Flapjacks and Blast Off Banana Date Bread to Samurai Salmon and Avocado Bowl and Big Mo Minestrone.