A word from a physical therapist and specialist in weight loss
As a parent, I want to see my child succeed. Period. That is it.
So it definitely stings when I see my child upset, or not progressing as well as I or she would like, especially in the physical realm. I want to see her do the handstand that she really wants to accomplish! I want to see her beat the boys in races, I want to see her lead her team and be the best player on her team! Not so much because I care about how she does (I care most about her effort, but that’s a different blog post!), but because when she does well, it brings excitement, happiness and general feelings of joy to her and improves the way that she views herself!
However, I also know that there is so much more to it than that. I know that the few hours per week that she spends in the gym are not enough to get her where she wants to go. Sadly, many parents will try to just bring their child to the gym more. “If 2 hours per week is good, then 6 is better”… “If lifting 10 pounds is good then lifting 30 is better”… Unfortunately, this is just not the case.
You see, what you do OUTSIDE the gym has far more effect, simply based on the VOLUME of time that there is. In 2 hours you cannot undo what happens for the other 24 hours in that day. This means that there must be a very focused effort on what happens in the other 22 hours of the day….simply put, nutrition matters!
Now I’m not saying that children need to be on a special diet (Interestingly, diet is defined as “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats). But I am saying that children need to be on a consistent diet that looks like the following….
Children need protein. Full stop. Their bodies are growing and they need protein to repair and build tissues so they can be healthy, active and thriving humans! The BEST sources of protein are lean meats. Children should avoid supplements as much as possible because they are just that, supplements. They are made to supplement what they are lacking in their diet! There are many people that feel that meats are not the most optimal source of protein…that’s a different blog post! But suffice it to say that meats are the MOST COMPLETE source of protein a child can take in! Don’t spare the meats!
Simply put, if it grows on a tree or in the ground, it is a good option for your child. If you take it out of a package or can’t pronounce the ingredients that are listed, it is not going to be a good option for them. Produce contains good sugars, fiber, water, vitamins and minerals that are key for your kid’s development. The body can use all of it well and quickly and then be rid of the waste. Generally, packaged foods alter the hormonal balance of kids, causing them to act out in different ways, have poor sleep patterns and gain weight.
Finally….this is a simple one, but it is not easy!
Water is CRUCIAL to your health and wellness and maybe even more so to your child’s! Water forms the majority of the tissues of the human body. This means that it needs to be constantly replenished with more water. You can take in water in your foods (especially fruits and vegetables) but especially in what you drink. However, many parents allow their kids to take in sugary drinks like sodas, “sport drinks” and other drinks that have lots of sugar and sugar substitutes as well as caffeine and dyes.
So remove the sugary beverages, watch your child’s ability improve!
That’s it! It is that simple! Feed your child protein (as natural a protein as possible) and produce (as un-fooled-around-with) and water! The rest of it is not right to help your child with their fitness and performance goals!
Notice, I did not talk about HOW MUCH to eat. That’s because I’m not worried about that with kids! Protein and produce are full of protein and fiber, which are incredibly filling! It is very hard to overeat these types of foods. For that reason, I don’t recommend utilizing a counting methodology to track intake levels.
There will be lots of naysayers to this philosophy. Some may say that dairy is crucial to development, but I disagree, as there is nothing in dairy that cannot be found in whole food versions of protein. Some may want to make this more complicated than what it needs to be, but the simple and most direct answer is usually the correct one as well.
Work to implement these changes with your child and watch their performance, attention and strength improve dramatically and help them to realize their goals in whatever they want to do!
If you find that you need more help, feel free to reach out by clicking the “Book a Free Intro” button above!
-Josh Boynton, PT, DPT, OCS, Cert. DN, CF-L2, CSCS
Owner, Backward Arrow Health Lab