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"How to Discuss Nutrition and the Body with your Daughter"

josie55

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Jul 19, 2015
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Saw this article from USA Volleyball but thought it had some relevant points for gymnastics. While the two sports are obviously different, I like the idea of talking about performance as it relates to nutrition. I'm pretty sensitive about not talking too much about this stuff b/c I don't want to create issues, but the reality is that food/nutrition impacts our kids' abilities to reach their goals and do what they want to do in the sport, and pretending that it doesn't is not helping them. I guess the simple concept of speaking only about food in terms of how well it helps fuel their performance struck a chord with me so I wanted to share it.

 
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AwesomeSauce

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Thanks for sharing! I totally agree this is important stuff that should be discussed on some level. For quite some time my daughter struggled with any skill that required upper body strength and it really frustrated her. She was starting to think those skills were just impossible for her. It was incredibly discouraging. The thing that turned it all around was making some small changes to her nutrition. Plus, she now has a much easier time eating right because she understands there is a connection between what you put in your body and what its capable of. I see why its scary territory but I think if you're wise about what you say and how you say it then its an opportunity to build a great foundation for a healthy lifestyle guided by the best efforts of those who care about her the most.

Heck, they're going to learn about body image and nutrition from somewhere. I'd rather it be from my wife and I's best efforts than from media, friends, and her own un-checked observations. Avoiding the topic is just kicking the can down the road, personally I think thats much scarier territory.
 

ldw4mlo

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We also never focus on weight/number. We don’t use words like skinny, thin, fat.

We focus on are we healthy, strong, able to enjoy physical activity. Typical body changes as it relates to puberty. Her body shape is changing. It’s not good or bad. It’s just expected. And what she can do to keep it healthy.
 

raenndrops

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We also never focus on weight/number. We don’t use words like skinny, thin, fat.

We focus on are we healthy, strong, able to enjoy physical activity. Typical body changes as it relates to puberty. Her body shape is changing. It’s not good or bad. It’s just expected. And what she can do to keep it healthy.
We try not to focus on weight/number ... but it is hard when they have a doctor appointment and their height, weight, and BMI (along with their percentile rank for age) are all listed on the top page in a nice, neat box. :(
Last month, I had to explain to YG that yes, she weighs more than some girls her age ... but she is also taller than some girls her age ... and BMI is actually irrelevant because is ONLY looks at height and weight, not taking into account muscle mass versus fat mass.
 
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ldw4mlo

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We try not to focus on weight/number ... but it is hard when they have a doctor appointment and their height, weight, and BMI (along with their percentile rank for age) are all listed on the top page in a nice, neat box. :(
I have to tell you I love her ped, but now I love her more. She gets weighed and measured at every appointment and not once has her doc ever really focused on the numbers. I know the numbers but it’s not part of the discussion with my kid. Her doc and I know those numbers are just information. She talks about eatiing healthy, being active, wearing your seatbelt, helmet when biking. She has/had seasonal asthma, so swim and get your lungs stronger. Never a word about weight. :)
 

Dahlia

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We try not to focus on weight/number ... but it is hard when they have a doctor appointment and their height, weight, and BMI (along with their percentile rank for age) are all listed on the top page in a nice, neat box. :(
Last month, I had to explain to YG that yes, she weighs more than some girls her age ... but she is also taller than some girls her age ... and BMI is actually irrelevant because is ONLY looks at height and weight, not taking into account muscle mass versus fat mass.
We talk about how there is a healthy weight range for every body and that healthy weight looks different on everyone. They know that being underweight can be as unhealthy as being overweight. That is the extent that weight is ever brought up with our kids. This is of course in conjunction with learning about good food choices and listening to their bodies to figure out what their bodies need.
 

raenndrops

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I have to tell you I love her ped, but now I love her more. She gets weighed and measured at every appointment and not once has her doc ever really focused on the numbers. I know the numbers but it’s not part of the discussion with my kid. Her doc and I know those numbers are just information. She talks about eatiing healthy, being active, wearing your seatbelt, helmet when biking. She has/had seasonal asthma, so swim and get your lungs stronger. Never a word about weight. :)
The ortho didn't say anything about her weight, luckily ... it was at the end of the appointment when the receptionist gave the paperwork about the visit (that also had her return to gym slip) ... she gave it to YG instead of me and with the information right there, she noticed it.
We talked about it in the car. The numbers don't show the whole picture. She eats healthy and is active and doesn't spend hours on electronics. She is aware of all of that. It was just seeing a 74th percentile that threw her for a loop.
YG has asthma and allergies, so we talk about how to deal with these issues - take her allergy meds since she can't avoid tree and grass pollen, use her inhaler 20 minutes before gym, know her limits and her triggers, etc.
 

Gymmom0824

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My DD just attended a camp and they had a rotation for nutrition. I have tried to encourage my daughter to fuel her body with the appropriate food for an athlete of her caliber but she’s a preteen and knows all. She did listen closely at camp and I was super grateful. Their coaches often discuss healthy eating with them, but don’t give them any class or actual lessons on this. I feel it’s something that is important. Some of her teammates will skip meals or even just eat junk before or during practice breaks. I worry not eating well could cause injuries down the line.
 

txgymfan

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I agree. I’m convinced nutrition is an under valued / under educated part of being a high level child/teen athlete. Bodies need the right fuel at the right time to perform safely let alone optimally. There are variations among people. Coaches and athletes need to realize that no food is bad but what is best before practice will be different than after practice and certain choices are better on off days.
 

sce

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We try not to focus on weight/number ... but it is hard when they have a doctor appointment and their height, weight, and BMI (along with their percentile rank for age) are all listed on the top page in a nice, neat box. :(
Last month, I had to explain to YG that yes, she weighs more than some girls her age ... but she is also taller than some girls her age ... and BMI is actually irrelevant because is ONLY looks at height and weight, not taking into account muscle mass versus fat mass.
Sure, once a year they get those numbers. My kids knew that this was it be sure that they were growing and that the only co aprisont aht mattered was from where they were the year before. The doctor always asks if they eat well, and get enough fruits and vegetables.

I discuss nutrition in the sense of fueling their body. That they need a variety of foods, to get the things their body needs. If they are working out a lot, then they need more fuel. If they are growing as well, they probably need even more. If they are running out of enregy at their workout, what do they need to change that?
 
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raenndrops

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Sure, once a year they get those numbers. My kids knew that this was it be sure that they were growing and that the only co aprisont aht mattered was from where they were the year before. The doctor always asks if they eat well, and get enough fruits and vegetables.

I discuss nutrition in the sense of fueling their body. That they need a variety of foods, to get the things their body needs. If they are working out a lot, then they need more fuel. If they are growing as well, they probably need even more. If they are running out of enregy at their workout, what do they need to change that?
We get those numbers at every doctor's appointment as part of the visit summary (even if the doctor doesn't discuss height, weight, or nutrition). She didn't see the one from Urgent Care or the first one from the ortho because they were given directly to me; but that last one from the ortho was given to her because she asked the nurse for her return to gym excuse and the return to gym was in the packet of visit summary paperwork.
 
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