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Eat Like a Champion & Child Nutrition Round-Up


I have been in lockdown mode on this end.


Because I am wrapping up my second book—something I think you’ll want to have in your library.

Eat Like a Champion: Performance Nutrition for Your Young Athlete is a book all about fueling your young athlete (age 8-18), whether he’s a recreational one or on his way to play college sports. This book covers growth, different sports, calories and nutrients, meals, snacks, and much, much more. The best part? It showcases the research on child and teen athletes, so you know it’s just for your young athlete. Not some dumbed-down version of adult sports nutrition research. Which, by the way, can be a problem in youth sports nutrition.

It’s written in parent-speak—language that makes sense to everyday parents — and it’s loaded with stories of young athletes, quotes from elite athletes, experts and researchers, and practical information from a dietitian mom who has four of her own athletes.

Look for Eat Like a Champion to be released this Spring!

So, you can imagine, birthing another book is time-consuming! So is getting a senior ready for college applications and sports recruiting, supporting the next teen in line through driver’s ed and a new driver’s license (and job!), and launching a new high school freshman. Oh, and my youngest has taken up a new activity—rowing. Needless to say, my focus has been on the family, the new book, and other work obligations.

So, to make it up to you, I am posting a variety of important articles and links you can read at your pleasure, along with my opinion on all of it.

What if It’s Not Just Picky Eating: Selective Eating Disorder in Children

Natalia Stasenko of Tribeca Nutrition offers up a nice summary of what I sometimes call, “picky eating on steroids.” The most important thing about selective eating disorder in children is detecting it early. It needs specialized intervention, and providing this early on makes feeding and nutrition much easier in the long run. If you have a picky eater and you’re not sure if it’s more—check it out with a professional!

Teal Pumpkin Project

The Teal Pumpkin Project for an Allergy-Friendly Halloween

Many of you know that I am the food allergy expert at (if you don’t, head over and check it out!), so I was over the moon to see this project launch. Also, as a mom of a tree nut allergic son, I’m kicking myself for not thinking of this!! A teal pumpkin means you have non-food treats for Halloween—a clear sign for food allergic kids that the home is safe. Also, a clear sign for kids who want candy only, to pass on by.

How Family Dynamics at the Dinner Table Affect Kids’ Weight

Sometimes when I speak about feeding and childhood obesity (which I am doing in early November at ObesityWeek in Boston), the question of how many weekly family meals are best almost always comes up. I always make the point that gathering around the table is good, ONLY if it’s pleasant, loving and not focused on the food eaten (or not) or eating behavior. Turns out, we have some emerging evidence that HOW you interact with your kids can have quite an impact. According to a recent study out of University of Minnesota, overweight kids get much more negativity from their parents around the dinner table than normal weight kids. Something to think about, especially if you’re dealing with a child who carries extra weight.

Eating Disorders Could Start as Early as Elementary School 

Sad but true, and I know this from my own experience in private practice. While this piece may scare or disturb you, I welcome this effort to research younger children. If we know more about them, we can pick up restrictive eating behaviors before they get out of control. Personally, I had great success with younger children who had eating disorders, and I think it was because the behaviors were detected, addressed early on, and developmentally, younger children were more responsive to family approaches to treatment, something that is more difficult with teens and young adults.

How Exercise Can Boost Young Brains 

As you read, I have been doing a lot of research and writing about exercise, and honestly, so much of it focuses on the benefits to children’s weight. It’s refreshing to promote the benefits to the brain! Put this one on your must-read list.

Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at least try) Everything

This article appeared in this past weekend’s The New York Times Magazine and has gotten some interesting responses from other bloggers. Read this from The Lunch Tray and this from It’s Not About Nutrition.

Personally, my first reaction was to smile at the less than healthy habits Mark Bittman admitted to as a child. I suspect he is a little bit older than me, but I too, grew up with my fair share of junk—especially potato chips. And, I understand that his foodie/cook status when his kids were younger made it easy for him to offer a wide variety of foods to them—and as such, they evolved into healthy eaters.

Such is not the case for today’s parents—many don’t know how to cook, don’t have the income to offer octopus (and maybe not even the awareness), don’t have adventurous, willing eaters, or supportive spouses in the quest to eat healthy. There are just so many variables parents have to face today. I appreciate his story, but it’s not that of the common parent.

Last, I will close with this phrase, because I think it’s true with feeding kids too.

I hope you are all doing well–I’ll be back in the saddle come November. Of course, share your viewpoints in the comments below!

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  1. Hello Jill. I’m mailing from England and interested in your book Eat Like a Champion. I’m researching literature on nutrition for the Junior 16’s double crew for Trent Rowing Club. Can you tell me if your book will help and guide them with their rowing and enhancing their performance please? Or do you have any other references I can sight that you have written or have knowledge of. Your work sounds so interesting. Thanks Alison

    1. Hi Alison, My book gives general sports nutrition guidance for athletes aged 8-18 years, along with practical ways to implement the research findings in this age group. I call out crew in a couple of stories/examples in the book, but the info is presented in a way that can be applied across all sports. you can also find my nutrition writings on US ROWING–just search my name…;)