Cranky SportsMom rides again! Thanks to Chaos Crew member Annie G from Calistoga for sending along this link to a piece on Forbes.com about Youth Sports and the creeping obesity of Snacking by Bob Cook, fellow anti-snacking advocate and sports dad . Annie wanted me to know that there is a new study called the Healthy Youth Sports Study by researchers at the University of Minnesota that has connected the dots between youth sports and increased calorie consumption, thanks to snacks after the game and fast food before practice and after games due to family time crunch.
I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m not. As any parents with kids in sports knows ( or really any intense afterschool activity like theater or band) , regular mealtimes and control over nutrition appears to go out the window when the season cranks up. Holding the line on good, smart nutrition can be an unpopular position in a groups of parents who, for some reason, equate good parenting with Doritos and juice boxes at 9am. But now we have some data to back up our Cranky Sportparents Stance on Snacks.
More on this week’s Chaos Chronicles podcast about this issue, as I feel like the my life this fall is dedicating to keeping my athlete sons hydrated and fed with the fewest amount of trip to drive-throughs as possible. Not an easy task when they are consuming about 4,000 calories a day. Thanks, Annie.
In an ironic twist, I’m off to a nutrition seminar geared towards moms called MomEnergy given by Ashley Koff. More on that this week, too.
For your enjoyment, the original Institutionalized Snacking Manifesto.
Mrs. Obama asked for my help the other day. Well, she didn’t personally reach out to me, but I got an e-mail from her initiative Let’s Move, so it was practically like a call from the White House. The First Lady has embarked on a mission to empower parents, schools, and communities to battle childhood obesity. She is advocating a healthier, active lifestyle for parents and children, with smarter choices and more options for food in homes, school, and markets. I am totally on board with Let’s Move. We are talking about my children’s generation and, as a mom, I want not only my kids, but also their peers, to have the brightest futures possible.
I’m sure I don’t have to go into all the grim statistics on childhood obesity. But here are a couple of whoppers: one in three American children are overweight or obese and ten percent of babies and toddler are dangerously heavy. Predictions for their future health include diabetes, heart disease, and a lower life expectancy than our generation.
As Mrs. Obama acknowledges in her essay in Newsweek (March 22,2010), the solutions aren’t simple to such a complex issue, involving public policy decision makers, food companies, school districts, and parents. That’s where I come in because I’m a parent. I’ve been taking a look at what is happening in my children’s world that might need changing.
And, I’m looking at you, Unhealthy and Ubiquitous Snacks.
Moms, you know what I’m talking about: the unending parade of holiday goodie bags or post-soccer carb fests or classroom birthday cupcakes that find their way into our kids mouths on a regular basis. We have become a nation of ritual snackers, digesting hundreds of empty calories as part of our routine whether we are hungry or not. Now, we are passing on this unhealthy tradition to our kids with what I call Institutionalized Snacks.
Go ahead, say it: I’m cranky and there is nothing wrong with the Occasional Cupcake. You’re right, there is nothing wrong with the Occasional Cupcake, but our kids are exposed to cupcakes — or their caloric equivalent– several times a week! Do young athletes really need a giant bottle of sports drink after spending 22 minutes in the outfield picking daisies? How about the candy kids get at school on Halloween?! Why do all afterschool activities require bags of chips? It’s like we can’t make a move without food anymore. All the institutionalized snacking is affecting our kids’ weight, according to a recent study. Snacks now account for one quarter of children’s total calories.
Where are the parents in all this? Right there stuffing the goodie bags! We treat being the Snack Mom as a marker of our worth so the snacks get bigger and more elaborate. What started as oranges- at- halftime twenty years ago has spun out of control in terms of portion size and calorie content. Now it’s mandatory pizza after practice.
So let’s agree to stop with the Institutionalized Snacks. Parents, coaches, team moms, room reps, youth athletic leagues, classroom teachers, we all need to agree on this one. Let the kids play soccer then go home and have lunch. Celebrate classroom birthdays once a month, instead of weekly. Create holiday celebrations in school that don’t revolve around food. Provide healthy choices for afterschool activities when kids are genuinely hungry. It’s a small but important step forward in the huge battle to raise healthy kids.
And I’m willing to do my part. Are you?
Embracing my Chaos, Lian