Healthy Habits for Kids…
Lakeland, Florida, 2007 at the Copa America Grappling Championship:
“Come on, you’ve got 1 more pound to lose!! Put on that garbage bag and go do Jumping Jacks in the sun,” said the parent to his 11 year old son.
I could see the look of fear and desperation on the boys face.
And I could see a grown man living vicariously through his 11 year old boy. And I was disgusted.
As a Mixed Martial Arts Coach, I’ve seen the brunt of some really bad parenting choices. From parents who mentally beat down their child when they lose, to parents who force their kid to cut weight.
Unfortunately, in wrestling/grappling/mma, weight cutting seems to be a part of the sport that is going to stay. Many tournaments are using different rules to help eliminate people from weight cutting (weighing in right before you step on the mat, using the „Madison‟ system, ect). However, it seems like no matter what rules are made, people are still going to cut weight.
This article was written with a child‟s health as being our number one concern. I am not a doctor. I do not have a degree in nutrition. You should consult your doctor/child’s doctor before making any changes to their diet.
“Most parents have their kids use short-term weight-loss methods. These methods involve reducing a child‟s water weight by restricting fluid intake.” Some more drastic methods include:
- Using saunas or rubber or plastic workout suits to sweat off water weight
- LaxativesAll of these methods can have serious health consequences for kids, such as:
- Heat exhaustion or heat stroke
- Low blood sugar
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Calcium imbalance
Also, “crash diets can impair the normal growth process and actually reduce muscle mass in kids. Athletes who want to lose a significant amount of weight should meet with a sports dietitian in the off season to develop a plan that promotes safe and healthy eating and weight goals.”
The following is a guide to losing weight 6-8 weeks before a competition in order to get down to the weight class that is most reasonable for your child to be competing in. Your child should not be “Cutting Weight” the week of the tournament. They should have taken the appropriate measures months before the tournament so they do not cause any harm to their body.
1) The Basics of Nutrition –
Diet. Let‟s just throw the word right out of the window and let‟s replace it with the phrase “Eating Clean”. Developing a list of “clean” foods your child can and should eat will be a constant reminder of their health. I suggest making a list and putting it on the refrigerator or in the pantry. It seems that trying to discuss the ins and outs of Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats can be very confusing to a child, so building a list will be much easier approach.
Foods to stay away from during training camp
Potato Chips (Cheetos, Fritos, ect)
Candy (chocolate, gummy worms, sweet tarts, ect) Processed Pastry‟s (Twinkies, Ring dings, ect) Fast Food (McDonalds, Burger King, ect)
Fried Foods (Friend chicken, French Fries, Ect) High sodium foods (canned soups)
- The Good Stuff:
WATER WATER WATER!
Whole Wheat/Grain Pasta and Bread
2) The Relationship of Nutrition to Performance –
Your child needs to understand why they are eating clean. Explain to them that the food and drinks that they put in their body will be their fuel and energy on a day to day basis. Explaining to them their body is a machine and it needs the right fuel to run properly might help them to understand.
Check out – http://www.nutritionexplorations.org/kids.php
This website is a great resource for children and offers fun and exciting
games that will help them learn about proper nutrition!
3) The Appropriate Measures to Weight Control –
The USDA recommends at least 1 hour of activity a day for children. Most kids who compete train 3-5 times per week and usually increase their training towards the final weeks of their training camp. Along with their training camp, make sure your child is staying active around the house and not just building up their thumb muscles playing video games.
For more tips on how to get your child active, check out our previous blog article:
SDA’s MyPlate – Home Page. Web. 25 July 2011. <http://www.mypyramid.gov>. “’Cutting’ Weight: A Safe Practice for Youth Wrestlers?” Mayoclinic.com. Web. 25 July
Nelson, Jennifer. “Cutting Liquid Calories More Effective for Weight Loss?” Mayo Clinic. Web. 25 July 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.com>.
Riccio, Phil. “Cutting Weight the Right Way.” Welcome! – Nashoba Clinton Wrestling. Web. 25 July 2011. <http://www.nashobawrestling.com/>.