Young athletes don’t always understand nutrition basics, and the American food landscape has been set up for easy overeating – especially when it comes to less healthy options. As a parent, this environment makes it tricky to teach portion and serving sizes to children. Help educate your child about nutritional serving sizes with these five facts in mind.
WE LIVE IN A WORLD OF PORTION DISTORTION
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics coined the term “portion distortion” to explain how portion sizes have expanded in the last few decades, and what once seemed like a huge serving of cake is our new normal. In fact, a research paper published in the BMJ showed that in 1950, a normal serving of soda was seven ounces – and today, it’s ballooned to a whopping 42 ounces. The paper speculated that returning to the smaller sizes could actually help prevent issues like childhood obesity.
KIDS DON’T ALWAYS UNDERSTAND FULLNESS CUES
Studies have shown that children don’t have an ‘off’ switch that lets them know when they feel full, and if given the chance, will tend to overeat. This is particularly true of calorie-dense ‘popular’ foods like macaroni and cheese. Cornell University researchers, including study author David Levitsky, have found that the greatest determinate for how much a child will eat is simply how much is piled on his or her plate. As a parent, you have the responsibility to choose your athlete’s serving size, and what you give them will dictate how they view serving sizes.