According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, “In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.” So, certainly getting kids in the pool and getting them exercising is important.
However, exercise is only one component of creating a healthy lifestyle. When my daughters were younger, I specifically remember this one 10 & under swimmer on their summer swim team. Every time I saw him outside the pool, he was eating some kind of junk food. At team events, he piled up more food on his plate than I did. There was no mystery to why he was overweight. Should someone have said something if not to him than to his parents?
While we have to be cognizant of Body Shaming, shouldn’t we be allowed to set some guidelines that apply equally to everyone? My daughter’s current high school coach brought in a nutritionist to talk to the team as a group. I thought that was a good way to address the issue of nutrition.
While I’ve heard horror stories about coaches trying to control what their kids eat, perhaps creating a “Healthier Snack Bar” at meets offers a simple way of introducing kids to better alternatives.
So, let’s look at some snack bar options. Here we have pop-tarts, donuts, gourmet muffins, and bagels. Looking at Fat, Sugar, and Calories, the blue berry bagel is the clear winner here. I was surprised to see that the muffin was the worst option of the those listed.
Next, we’ll look at cereal bars vs. candy bars. The cereal bars contain approximately half the calories and one-third the fat of the average candy bar. The Kind bars contained the least amount of sugar, but any of the cereal bars list were better than the candy bars.
My daughters don’t tend to eat a lot of salty snacks at swim meets, but I always see chips, etc. available at the snack bar. The pretzels and popcorn have fewer calories and fat than the others listed. Whether fewer carbs or less fat is more important is where I’d need to talk to a nutritionist.
When it comes to hydration, water is the best option for the average swimmer regardless of what all the performance drink commercials say. My daughters don’t like the way that gatorade makes their stomachs feel when they’re racing. Based on sugar content, juice isn’t any better for you than soda.
Now, let’s say Swimmer #1 has a Muffin, Snickers, Cheetos & a Sprite and Swimmer #2 has a Bagel, a Kind Bar, Pretzels, & a Water. Swimmer #1 has consumed more than twice as many calories and almost 10 times more fat than Swimmer #2.
Plus, this is just a snapshot. If they eat this way at the meet, they probably have similar habits at home. It’s definitely an uphill battle, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do better, eat healthier, and be good examples to our swimmers.