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Eat Well, Do Well
Young athletes just might swallow this book's advice

Flipturn Flapjacks
 Recent recipes in Pacific Northwest

Best Hot Cocoa

Whole Wheat Shortbread
Twice a week, my 9-year-old daughter has 20 minutes between when she gets off the school bus and when she's whisked off to gymnastics practice. Between changing clothes and swooshing her long hair into a ponytail and the inevitable loss of focus, she gets five minutes to eat something. Anything.
Pre-Game Meal Plate
Here's what your pre-game meal plate should look like:
Note: Percentages by volume, not by weight. This chart was designed to prepare the young athlete for practice and competition. It is not intended to reflect what a growing child's overall diet should look like.
So it was with great interest that I read a wonderful little book titled, "Feeding the Young Athlete." Produced by two Bastyr University-based nutritionists, Cynthia Lair and Scott Murdoch, the book is concise, clear and practical. It is full of great tips to healthy, fuel-producing eating and simple explanations. Its true beauty, however, is in the insidiously clever way it uses athletic performance to get kids to make lifelong changes in their diets.

Will my daughter take what she eats seriously when I tell her about obesity, heart disease and Type II diabetes? No.

Will she get it if she learns how eating better will help her handle a gymnastics bar? Of course.
 Fitness Notebook

Fitness news you can use

Tracking nutritional winners

Also targeting the diets of young athletes is a project known as the Washington Interscholastic Nutrition Forum ( Made up of nutritionists, young athletes, coaches, trainers and others, the group's goal is to raise awareness about nutrition's importance to scholastic and athletic performance.

The group believes that because student athletes are often their peers' opinion leaders, their better eating habits can rub off on other young people. The idea is to have young athletes eat well without obsessing over potentially harmful views of weight or physique.

WINForum is developing a nutritional handbook containing recipes and meal plans; it's also planning to study the diets and nutrition of select Seattle and Spokane high-school teams. Diet and performance will be tracked for a month: two weeks with athletes eating their usual way and two weeks of them eating with help from nutritional experts.

Some of the points that the group hopes to get across are that poor nutrition may predispose athletes to injuries, that parents and coaches need to be nutritional teachers and that the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid is still the best overall policy for diets of young athletes. Lola O'Rourke, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, is the coordinator of WINForum.

Using simplicity to build sophisticated eaters also works on busy people like me.

Lair has taught nutrition and cooking at Bastyr for a decade. Her previous book, "Feeding the Whole Family," has sold more than 25,000 copies. Not bad for a one-woman, self-published enterprise. For the new book, she collaborated with Murdoch, who, besides having a doctorate in nutrition and human performance, has competed in more than 90 triathlons and three Ironman championships.

The soft-cover book explains how food turns to fuel and why combinations and balance are important. It discusses when and what the young athlete should eat before and after games and practices. The book made me feel guilty about how easily my daughter gets her way in begging for ice cream after her practices. So I asked Lair how she ate as a kid. "Terribly," she replies. "It's amazing I'm alive." But she does have a daughter on a varsity soccer team and has worked on getting the whole team to eat better.

The book describes the best foods, ingredients and drinks. Perhaps most helpful are the several pages of recipes from the "Outta Here Oat Waffles" to the "Psyched Up Smoothie."

"I think kids 10 and up could read this book," says Lair. "My feeling is, why make something seem hard when you can make it simple? The secret mission in my life has been to get people to eat the right way."

For starters, try the attached recipe, Flipturn Flapjacks, for lasting pre-game carbs.

Richard Seven is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer.

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