Thinking Outside the Lunchbox: Nutrition for the CrossFit Kid (and all active children)

Ditching the sandwiches! Learn how to feed your kids to optimize their brain development and practical tips.

Written by Alexandra Rains Nutritional Therapist and Crossfit Instructor

Published in support of “Paleo Wellness Challenge” sponsored by Modify|Adapt|Overcome and Crossfit Leucadia.

-Hello Parents!
We often receive questions from parents who are unsure of how or what to feed their children when they are participating in a strenuous program like
CrossFit Kids or sports in general. We are here to help!

Our goal is not only to instill a passion for fitness but also a passion
for overall health. We can do this by teaching them very basic
concepts that they can remember and carry with them for life.
If you are a CrossFitter yourself, you have probably heard the
following explanation of how to eat: Sugar is bad. Protein is
good and you need to eat some in every meal. Nuts and seeds are
good fats — eat them, don’t avoid them. Pasta, white bread, and white
rice are not that good for you. Fruits and vegetables that are red,
yellow, green are good for you. Eat a lot of them.
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little
starch and no sugar.”

We understand this can be a very sensitive subject for many parents.
We also know that you have your child’s best interest at heart and
want nothing but the best for them. The following information is meant
to be a guideline from which you can pick and choose the information
that works best for you.

A child’s nutrition can effect nearly every aspect of their lives:
behavior, health, physical development, emotional development and
many other things. A child’s brain is not fully developed until after the
age of 18 so up until that time what they are eating is directly
affecting the the development of important hormones,
neurotransmitters and portions of the brain. The brain is an organ of
the body, and just like every other organ of the body, it requires good
nutrition. Nutrition also drastically effects a child’s growth and
development — particularly physically active children. So, what do you
feed your Kid? We like to keep it simple! If you can find it in
nature, is is probably good.

Keep your diet full of healthy fats: avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut
oil, nuts, olive oil, flax seed oil, egg yolks — these are fuel for the brain,
the foundation of hormones, they are the precursor for the production
of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, fats are the main fuel for muscles
(particularly the heart) and fats are necessary for the uptake of A, D,
E and K vitamins! It’s important to note that we recommend staying
away from hydrogenated oils (vegetable oil, canola oil, margarine,
shortening, etc). These fats are highly processed, neurotoxic,
denatured and extremely high in omega-6 fats which are the
precursor to inflammation — which we don’t like!

Quality proteins are key: Proteins are an important building block in
the body. Animal sources of protein including eggs are “better” for
you nutritionally since they contain all of the essential amino acids;
Protein cannot be “stocked” up like fat but must be eaten daily. We
are made of protein from our bones to our muscles, arteries and
veins, skin, hair, and fingernails. Our heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and
lungs are built of tissue made of proteins. When we break down
muscle quickly in CrossFit, it is important that we eat quality proteins
to help build that muscle mass back up. Organic Grass Fed Beef,
Wild Caught Fish and Pastured, Free Range Chicken are the best
options. Cows, as nature designed, were meant to eat grasses, hay,
bugs and ruffage — NOT corn and soy! The same goes for chicken –
which were meant to freely roam in wide spaces, with the ability to eat
grass, worms, bugs and other ground protein. When animals eat the
food that nature designed for them to eat, their meat has a much
higher nutritional value, a higher omega 3 content and a higher
vitamin E content.

Vegetables and Fruits: Eat variety! Choose different colors. Let
children choose the vegetables whose colors they like the best. When
you let them get involved, they are more likely to want to try the
vegetables they have chosen. Choose organically grown, local,
season produce.

Sugars and Refined Carbohydrates: As we are all aware of, sugar
is everywhere. Soda, candy, cereal, snack bars, high fructose corn
syrup. Our children are inundated with sugar. Our ancestors
consumed around one tablespoon of sugar a day, our children today
are consuming upwards of 1 cup of sugar a day. No wonder they
can’t focus! Consuming sugar triggers a chain reaction in the brain
that literally derails it’s neurotransmitter functions. Excess sugar
consumption also leads to B vitamin deficiency, digestive
dysfunction, and blood sugar regulation issues such that could
eventually lead to diabetes. Refined carbohydrates (cereal, poptarts,
white bread, etc) are converted to sugar in the body. They are mostly
void of nutritional value and nearly always make up a bulk of a meal.
We recommend replacing refined sugars with natural sugars like
honey, maple syrup, coconut sap, rapadura or stevia.

Water: The most overlooked nutrient! Water is so important but so
easily forgotten! Water is life giving. Without it our cells cannot
communicate, or lymphatic detox system becomes thick and clogged
and our blood is not free flowing. Water lubricates and cushions joints
and helps maintain electrical currents between cells. Ideally, a person
should be drinking at least 1⁄2 their bodyweight in ounces per day. If
your child weighs 40 lbs, they should be drinking at least 20 ounces
of water a day. This does not mean gatorade, energy drinks, or
flavored waters. In fact, these end up dehydrating the body. The best
energy drink is water, followed by coconut water.

How do you pack these in a lunchbox?
Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
• Lettuce wraps filled with turkey, bell peppers, avocado, mustard,
cheese, tomatoes and whatever other vegetables they enjoy.
• Homemade egg salad or deviled eggs
• Almond butter with sliced bananas or apples

• Chicken salad with apples or grapes
• Sliced, rolled turkey breast with different dipping sauces: pesto,
mustard, thousand island dressing, etc.
• Popcorn topped with favorite spices
• Grassfed beef jerky
• Sliced grass fed beef hotdogs with assorted dipping sauces
• For beverages: Coconut water, water with citrus and mint or water
with children’s favorite fruits infused.