While coaches may not be weighing their athletes these days like they did when I was competing, the nutrition information in club sports is still nonexistent and/or antiquated at best.

I had ZERO knowledge of nutrition when I was going through puberty in a swimsuit in front of the world. Thinking about what I put in my mouth – what was actually fueling my body – was somewhat foreign to me and my teammates, even at the most elite level.

Had I been taught one of my now-favorite mottos, “Food impacts everything, not just how you look,” at a young age, perhaps I could have avoided some of the derailing health problems I experienced.

The only problem is… no one is teaching this!

Young athletes today still walk around with an antiquated mindset – “I can eat anything I want because I work out so much” – or they get conflicting information and, at best, are confused when it comes to their nutrition.

These days, we do know about the profound impact food can have on health and wellbeing, yet we are still failing our young athletes and disempowering them with the lofty idea that they can eat whatever they want because they work out hard.

It’s an old idea, and I’m committed to shifting that paradigm for young athletes.

Teaching young people about the powerful impact food can have on health and performance is crucial to sustained success in sports AND as an adult.

This is why I created the 5D Athlete Institute for teen athletes. It is a complete online curriculum for individual athletes and for teams, and I am so excited to get it in the hands of these young athletes who are on a mission to be their best.

When I tell young athletes who struggle with acne, eczema, and/or migraines that we can work on symptom reduction through food, they get excited.

They get excited to learn and be in the driver’s seat of their health, which impacts their performance. You can’t tell me that competing or training with a migraine is going to produce optimal results for anyone. I don’t think even Michael Phelps could be effective with plaguing symptoms like that.

We have to start thinking about our food as medicine.

That doesn’t mean food can’t be an enjoyable part of our everyday life.

It simply means that we can enjoy life more when we are well and in optimal health.

I am blown away by the number of young people who are not only suffering from things such as migraines and chronic sinus infections, but are also on medications to remedy them, when food could be their first line of defense.

I admit, I spent many years upset with the medical community because no one told me about the healing power of food and how much it impacts our health.

I’ve come to learn over the years, though, that it’s not their fault either. They aren’t taught this stuff in medical school. In fact, most doctors receive 25 hours of nutrition education at best in their FOUR years of medical schooling, and 20 percent of medical schools do not have a single course in nutrition.

So, our Simple Switch this week is focusing on mindset.

By simply switching your mindset about food, you can change your behaviors with food.

Looking at food as medicine isn’t anything new. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said long ago to “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Instead, we tend to use food as treats, gifts, and rewards. This type of mindset has gotten our country into a health crisis of epidemic proportions. Information from the CDC states that more than one-third of US adults are obese, and 20 percent of children between ages 2 and 19.

We can no longer maintain the mindset that food is a reward or treat. FOOD is MEDICINE.

If children learn this at a young age, they will be set up for a lifetime of success in food choices. Our young athletes need to know that exercise doesn’t offset the damage done by sugary and/or and highly processed foods.

Help me on my mission to teach people that FOOD is MEDICINE. Start this conversation in your house tonight with your kids. Look at the foods you keep in the house to see which ones are contributing to the family health and which ones are taking away from it.

It all begins with this mindset… Food IS Medicine!




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