It’s the Parents’ Fault, Not the Kids’.

By: Will HitzelbergerPart 1, Eating:

Let me begin by setting the scene we experience way too often:

It’s about 20 minutes into a workout, the athletes are warmed-up, done a bit of plyo’s and getting into some good movement or conditioning. There is at least one athlete you can tell is just not on their typical game and is trying hard not to show it. We move into the lift, and that athlete begins to drag even more.

The coach approaches and says, “what’s wrong with you today?”

“Not sure, just feel sick and sluggish.”

The next typical question for us is, “what did you have to eat before you came in?”

The next typical answer is, “chicken nuggets” or “nothing.”

“OK. What did you have for lunch?”


“And what about breakfast?”

“Nothing” or “cereal (loaded with sugar)” or “a bagel.”


Even if you think you and your family are healthy, please investigate further into healthy habits and proper nutrition.

Let me throw out a couple of my favorite groups that I follow for great ideas when it comes to healthy eating and new ideas:

Precision Nutrition – they have become the leaders in the world on nutritional consulting, and give tons of free information. Try subscribing to their blog or follow on Facebook.

Primally Inspired– as someone who follows a Paleo lifestyle as much as possible, I absolutely love their posts on Facebook.

SSP Fuel – our sports nutritionist, Calum McLellan, has daily Facebook posts with great ideas and other people and companies to follow.

I get it, it’s not easy to always get kids to eat healthy. It’s not convenient; it’s not cheap and it can be confusing.


Set aside athletics and performance, and first just focus on creating healthy habits at home. Get rid of all the crap, processed food, and stop buying it. Start working on eating real food. Most of us have heard about shopping on the outside of the grocery store. IT WORKS!

I am not going to tell you that you should become a vegetarian, vegan or paleo, or follow this diet over this one. My best advice is to eat real food as clean as possible. So when you have a choice buy wild fish over farm raised fish. Buy grass fed, cage free, organic.

Primally Inspired always gives great tips on how to do this in an affordable way.

If your child has practice after school, let’s work on creating a healthy plan for a snack on the way. Not a last minute drive thru.

As always, all comments are welcomed.

  1. Ummm….breakfast and lunch typically come from SCHOOL not home! So your beef is with the poor quality food the contractors paid by the school districts provide. Then the $ that the schools make from the vending machines found throughout the typical high school campus. I know first hand the garbage, high fat, high carb, high sodium food fed to our children because I am a high school teacher in a high poverty school. Our students have been deemed unable to pay for their own breakfast and lunch. So it is the school districts fault, not the parents.

  2. Will…brilliant and greatly appreciated.

  3. Nice article, it's important for parents to realize they have options. I'm not a parent, but I do have experience working with schools in the area on changing their menu options. It's important for parents to remember they do have the option of sending their kids to school with packed meals, the kids don't have to eat what the schools serve.

    As mentioned in the article, SSP Fuel and Primally Inspired are good pages to follow. Also, if you have instagram, a friend of mine posts daily pics and videos of different things she makes and packs for her kids lunches and how to do it at affordable prices @barbieainthere

  4. Great comments. Michele, I agree, we can definitely point our finger at the school district, but they do not deserve all the blame. Breakfast can definitely happen at home, or on the go with proper planning. And like Cassandra said, packing a lunch is always a better options. There is alway a choice to make, and usually there is alway a better choice. Lets continue to educate ourselves and others on the better choice.

  5. Will,
    Thank you for addressing the importance of proper nutrition. I wish I knew what I know now about the relationship between proper nutrition and performance back when I was competing. Proper nutrition is definitely something I address with parents and athletes.

  6. Nice article Will. In particular I appreciate its practical nature.

    In my recently published book, The 3/4 Rule – How to Eat as a Young Athlete I address the issue of proper nutrition with an extremely simple, practical, yet powerful model for how to eat, that can be applied nearly everywhere.

    Yes, that was a shameless plug for my book, but I only do so because it is so relevant to the topic and was written specifically to give parents a tool that will greatly simplify their meal planning and choices.

    As you pointed out, parents bear the majority of the responsibility for their children's nutrition. However, today more than ever families feel the strain from everybody wanting more time from our finite 24 hour clock. Employers, schools, sports coaches, extracurricular programs all want more of our time. Add to this the growing population, which means it usually takes more time to travel the same 10 miles than it did 10 years ago, and we have a culture of parents and kids enduring more stress, sleeping less and always in a hurry. From this dynamic, it's easy to see how parents are enticed to take the path of least resistance at times and stop at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to practice.


  7. Michele brings up an important point regarding nutrition in impoverished communities. Typically, these school systems deal with a greater incidence of lower academic success due to education not being valued in the home, as compared to more affluent communities.

    If you are a parent who doesn't value education, then you can forget about nutrition. Another interesting wrinkle is that whether a family can afford to have their kids eat breakfast at home and send them to school with lunch or not, some will take any subsidy the school or government will provide.

    Although the parents should be primarily responsible, when they are not, it would be nice if these school systems made better nutrition choices for their students.

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