What Dwight Howard Can Teach Kids About NutritionJessica Cohen
It is pretty safe to say that professional athletes have access to everything they need to maintain a pretty healthy and fit life, with personal trainers, nutritionists and team doctors at their disposal.
This conversation comes up in my house often because my 10-year-old son wants nothing more than to grow up and be a personal trainer for a professional sports team. This was confirmed again recently when we had a chance to see the weight room for a professional football team, and I was not quite certain that I would ever be able to get his chin up off the floor. He talks frequently about which exercises are important for which types of athletes as well as what they should be eating to maintain their optimal energy levels.
However, having all of the right information available to them does not mean that the athletes take the advice, as a recent article on Yahoo! Sports reveals.
Dwight Howard is with the Houston Rockets now, but while he was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers last year, the team physician had become concerned about his nutrition after witnessing a decline in his energy levels while on the court. As far as she was concerned, Howard was showing all the signs of someone with pre-diabetes. And boy was she right. Subsequent bloodwork revealed a shocking amount of glucose in Howard’s body, which was undoubtedly the cause of his sluggishness..
So the next piece of the puzzle was to find out about his diet. What could he possibly have been consuming that would lead to pre-diabetes and low energy levels on the court?
According to the piece, between his love of soda and candy, Howard had become literally addicted to sugar. After the discovery, he agreed to get rid of the candy and made a commitment to a renewed healthy life including a nutritious diet. The results were quick and dramatic, improving his glucose levels, his energy levels, and his heart health. He still loves his candy, but it seems that his priorities have become more about his health and his play than about his sweets.
I, for one, hope that in the future athletes will continue to talk about situations such as this one and that the media will continue to highlight it. Our kids are bombarded with mixed messages when it comes to food. Parents and educators may tell them to eat healthy, yet stores are stocked with unhealthy items, school cafeterias serve massive amounts of junk food, and commercials for all that unhealthy food are played over and over again during TV shows targeted toward them.
As a parent, I think Dwight Howard’s story is a great example for us to use with our kids. It serves a reminder that if they want to perform at their peak level on the field, on the court, or in the classroom, they have to also watch what foods are putting in their bodies. This is proof that being healthy is about combination of exercise and nutrition, not one or the other. If a successful professional athlete like Dwight Howard can’t handle all that sugar, neither can our children.
Image source: Wikimedia.org
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