For the past 15 years, I have been married to a Sports Performance Dietitian who’s now the Director of Sports Performance Nutrition for the University Of Texas Athletic Department. It’s an understatement when I simply say, “I really scored big in the relationship department”. It would take hours for me to explain all the amazing benefits I feel I’ve received living with an amazing woman who’s passionate about helping others fuel their body for performance and good health. In my world of obstacle course racing, competing in ultra-long endurance races like the Death Race, World’s Toughest Mudder, The Suck, trail races, upcoming 260 mile canoe race, training HS and college athletes, coaching boot camps, running track, and lots of training, she has provided me with so much support and education in the area of proper fueling for high performance and recovery.
I’d like to discuss nutrition around the house and restaurants for our youth. We have a nine-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son who love a wide variety of many different types of food. They are even up for experimenting with new foods and menu items at restaurants. This isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a struggle we see many families working through with their kiddos, and in many cases themselves, and we are passionate about helping people in this arena. Here are a few things we feel are important to help you along this road. As parents and athletes (we are all athletes), we both have great respect for food and its ability to fuel our mind and body. We both enjoy trying foods, recipes, and menu items that are popular in other cultures and over time, our kids have started to enjoy a wide variety of food. We consistently tell our children there are no “bad” foods but there are foods we should enjoy more than others and “fun” foods should be enjoyed in moderation. We try to consistently model healthy eating habits and when we enjoy a “fun” food together, we really enjoy it with no strings attached (gotta go run this off or that was my cheat day, etc.). Because they’ve seen us doing it their entire lives, it’s normal for them to sit down and enjoy a salad with about fifteen different vegetables thrown in.
We don’t follow fad diets, talk about certain foods having magical powers and others being evil. We talk to our kids about the nutrients (carbs, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water) food provides. For example, carbs are presented as a great source of energy for all the fun activities and sports they are involved in. We don’t prepare something different for our kids around meal times. They eat what we eat and if they say they are full, they can be excused from the table. When they come back 30 minutes later and say they are hungry, they can have more of what we just ate.
Restaurants can be challenging. Many restaurants have kid menus that aren’t centered on the menu items available to the adults. They have the typical items they know many kids gravitate toward. A good option can be to order one adult menu item and have the kids share it. There are other examples but long story short, what’s normal to them is what we’ve modeled as normal to us. Like anything else in life, good habits don’t happen overnight. This has taken many years of consistent modeling and it means we have to take the time to communicate with them and be graciously stern on occasion. We see a lot of value in slowly but surely developing eating habits that will fit into their lifestyle long term and provide excellent fueling for all the sports and activities they enjoy and sustaining a healthy life. We are far from perfect and we definitely don’t strive for perfection, but it’s an area we have fun with.
Fueling for high performance and a long term healthy lifestyle can be a ton of fun. My family and I love enjoying good food together. We hear about and see so many situations where food creates challenges with families. Let us know if you’d like to discuss family nutrition in greater detail and we’d be happy to help you. We’re a minor train wreck in other areas of life but this is an area we can help you with. Much love and peace to you all and I hope to see you at many races this year.