Soccer Mom And Nutrition Police!

As fall soccer season winds down, it’s interesting to reflect on some observations from the sidelines!

We’ve experienced very different coaching dynamics on the different teams, and two very different teams as a result. This soccer season has also been about great friends, old and new. I think it’s a great social skill to see kids learn to work together as a team and support each other in a group effort while still pushing themselves to excel on a personal level.

There was much excitement and laughter throughout the season. All-in-all, it was a very positive experience for the kids.

Unfortunately, the dark cloud that loomed over the soccer games was the issue of snacks for the kids. It never ceased to amaze me what would pass as ‘fuel’ for these little athletes-in-the-making. Also, the frequency and timing of the ‘fuelings’ seemed ridiculous. Games were an hour long, yet parents were expected to provide half-time snacks and drinks and post-game snacks and drinks. Many of the games ended at 7:15 at night! Yet, we were expected to provide a ‘snack’ for the team. I thought that particular snack was called “dinner”!

With all the buzz about childhood obesity for the last couple of years, you’d think the soccer powers-that-be would say, “Hold on a minute! Maybe these little people don’t need to eat quite that much… they’re not playing professional soccer and burning through 3,000 calories per game quite yet! Maybe we are part of the childhood obesity problem by sending these skewed food messages.”

Even if these were professional players, it would be highly unlikely that they would ever think of putting this garbage into their high-performance bodies during the game.

When the letters to parents came home at the start of the season, one coach requested that the half-time snack be fruit. I don’t think most parents got the memo! The same coach, however, also recommended juice drinks for both the half-time and post-game snack times and “treats” for post game.

That’s just perfect. Let’s reward kids with toxic garbage that subtracts from their health because they did something good, healthy, and athletic. Craziness! That is exactly why I refuse to call this stuff “treats”. It takes away from health. How can that be a ‘treat’?! The term “tasty toxin” sums it up quite accurately. I’m not arguing that a lot of this stuff tastes good, especially to a kid. But, it’s clearly toxic to our cellular function.

I only saw water served as the beverage of choice two times over the course of two months! Several children wrinkled their noses at the water and made remarks about how they “don’t like water” or “don’t ever drink it because it doesn’t taste good.” That’s frightening. Last time I checked, we need water to survive and be healthy! Alas, what child would choose plain water over colorful fruit drinks in cool, brightly decorated pouches, or over sports drinks and energy drinks that their sports heroes endorse, or over soda pop that has such lively and entertaining marketing. It makes water seem pretty dull.

I saw more Rice Krispies treats offered as snacks than I can shake a stick at. I saw chips galore, pretzel “sandwiches” (who knew?!) filled with fake processed ‘cheese’, bags of cookies, packaged brownies, snack crackers… all loaded with some combination of artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, excitotoxins, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, fake fats, refined grains, excessive sugar, and on and on.

I do not believe that childhood obesity is the biggest issue we have. These kids on the soccer teams were not even close to obese. Childhood toxicity is a far bigger problem. Whether or not any of these kids ever becomes obese is clearly not the most significant and dangerous issue, if they keep eating this way on a regular basis. This type of food cannot possibly result in healthy cell function. What is so painstakingly difficult to understand about this?

The snack at a recent game took the cake… almost literally. An assortment of chips and crackers along with fake, toxic juice drinks to wash down them down took their usual place on the sidelines earlier in the games. Then, to my shock, out came the gigantic cupcakes! Yes, as a snack during a soccer game, these kids were offered an over-sized cupcake (from the local warehouse store), each topped with neon icing that stood an additional inch off the top of the cupcake itself!

The kids drooled! Shoot, I think I drooled! I don’t try to mislead anyone – I think cupcakes taste great, too! That doesn’t mean I eat it just because it’s there. It’s just not a wise choice. That’s also why I don’t bring this stuff into my house. I would obviously eat it in a moment of “weakness”!

As I’ve always taught our kids, if you know you’re going to a birthday party or some special event where there will be “tasty toxins” served, and you’re going to choose to have some, then you need to be a responsible “body owner” and make sure your body has been properly fueled FIRST. Make sure you’ve given it ample fresh fiber in the form of veggies and fruit, clean protein and natural fats. The rest of your intake should be pretty healthy and clean in order to make sure that your body gets what it needs to: 1) create more healthy function for you, and 2) protect you from toxicity, infection, sickness, or whatever it might need to deal with.

These cupcakes were presented at 11:15 in the morning. There’s not a chance that enough healthy fuel for the day had crossed their lips yet to justify this choice! Oh, and this massive dose of sugar and artificial toxic ingredients was served with the toxic fruit drink of choice for this generation. Wow.

So, am I judging? No, actually I’m not. I am, however, venting. I find it frustrating… infuriating… that this even happens. It just makes me sad. I know that parents (coaches, administrators, etc.) don’t really know the true consequences of providing those foods. Of course they don’t! I do not believe that any parent would knowingly harm their children in any way. People just don’t associate giving their children toxic, chemical, factory-made poison with causing harm. They’re thinking it’s a ‘normal part of childhood’ or that they’d be ‘depriving’ the kids of something if they didn’t allow them to eat this stuff. I get it. I think it’s dangerously inaccurate, but I get it.

So, we come to an end of soccer season with mixed emotions. I’m sad to see the running and playing and laughing and cheering and camaraderie come to an end for this season… but, I’m SO glad to put this snack nightmare to an end! Until the next sport, that is! BOLA TANGKAS