As a camp counselor it is easy to notice how what a kid eats for breakfast and lunch will have a huge impact on how they behave for the rest of the day. In the upper-middle class town I worked in most of the kids arrived at camp everyday with a couple snacks usually consisting of fruit or whole grain crackers and a decent sized sandwich with protein and a little fat-a balanced and healthy meal. However, there were always a few kids whose lunchboxes would contain a pack of cookies, some chips, an extra sugary Gogurt and maybe a piece of fruit if we were lucky. These kids were often extremely energetic immediately after lunch and then their energy levels would plummet. Right around the time we would start an afternoon group activity the meltdowns would start, one by one they would refuse to join in and insist that either they didn’t feel good or that they just “didn’t wanna”.
Then, on Fridays the counselors would make food for the campers and although it wasn’t quite a salad with grilled chicken, the campers received a much more balanced lunch. On these days it was like we had a completely different group of campers. They played the whole day without any meltdowns and even helped clean up after the art activities! It was amazing to see the change that something so simple could have on their day at camp, but it was also disappointing that they couldn’t feel the same way everyday.
Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States that many schools are working to stop, but there are many other risks to poor eating habits. Even if a child is at a “normal” weight, it is possible that they could be underachieving in school or athletics simply because they are not receiving the correct nutrients to meet their full potential. I am excited to learn about all of the things we are seeing in this class because I think this information is incredibly important both as an athlete and as an average person. It is easy to convince yourself that you really don’t feel that much worse when you have a brownie or two a few hours before a workout, but when you see how it affects other people it becomes easier to understand and use the information for yourself and for those around you.