Thursday, March 08, 2007

Young Athletes and Controversy

This week has been a very challenging one!

Mckenna's dance teacher has put out a studio wide challenge to the Competition Teams that Matt and I are totally against, and I am not sure how to handle it. I know this is related to family and should technically be posted on the Brower Productions site, but it is so much more related to me than to Mckenna that it stays here.

McKel last month challenged the girls to cut out all carbonation or should we say soda pop. This I was okay with because it really is a bad thing for everyone. Carbination is a waste of calories, the sugars in the soda are hyper-inducive and it just dehydrates the living daylights out of you. So, I think that for a very active athlete it just is a wasteful drink.

But this month they were challenged to have less than 10 grams of sugar in each item they eat. Okay, simple sugars are not the best for you, but with all things, if it is in moderation it is okay. Here's the problem; Mckenna came home the first day after the sugar challenge and was bawling as she walked through the door because as she said, "I didn't get a drink for lunch today, the milk we have had 11 grams of sugar and the chocolate milk had 25 grams." As she was walking in she headed to the kitchen looking for a snack, looked at the labels and started having an anxiety attack. So, I grabbed her,snuggled her and tryed to calm her down at the same time as I explained to her that she was allowed to have milk, that McKel meant candy, not all sugar. But she said that McKel told them anything with more than 10 grams , so after I calmed her down I called McKel- but had to leave a message instead.
The next day, I talked to McKel (she called me,) and explained to her that Mckenna was not the average child, that she already self restricted herself to certain foods and that there was no way that she was going to be giving up milk, the pediasure that she drinks 2x a month to keep her weight up (26g- complex) or anything else for that matter (yes, I was ultra sensitive to the situation, I was probably ranting ,which when I apologized she didn't feel I was, good, grief, Mckenna is only 10 years old!)

So, I guess another Mother called and told McKel that her daughter didn't have milk with her cereal because of the sugar challenge, so the next dance day McKel sent home a revised note:
Here it is in it's entirety:

Like I said before, Mckenna is 10 years old, she is way too young to be so obsessive about label reading which is what happened after this note came home because she was trying to make sure she didn't go over 75 grams in the day. McKel also asked them to write everything they ate down. I talked to Matt about it, so he and I sat Mckenna down explained to her about complex sugars and simple sugars and that if she was going with all sugars then she wouldn't be able to eat apples, banana's etc... because they were high in complex sugar. She said that she understood, but the next day it started over with her asking me for a notebook.

I don't want to stop her from participating, but I also know that this label obsession can also be the start of eating disorders and I am not going to help her start that at all. It is bad enough that as a dancer she will always worry about her weight as she gets older, but she is not going to be obsessive at the age of 10! It might not be a pressure for her since she is such a lean girl, but it will be pressure enough for the girls in her group as they become teenagers and I think that the challenge is headed in the wrong direction. Here is the biggest thing; they have a chart that says if weekly they are sticking to the challenge, if not then they get a mark for it and they are out of the contest- with the payoff for winning this challengeis about a $100 dollar pot.

What I wish (amoung other wishes,) that McKel had done was to challenge the girls to cut out excessive amounts of candy- have them prove that they have eaten all there vegetables and fruit servings each day because this is a 3 month challenge. The older girls could have the sugar challenge or maybe cut out large obsessive amounts of junk food from their diet, because that is alot of what they eat during lunch in the middle or high school(as teenagers do.) I remember having a pop, a bag a chips and a donut for lunch at Bonneville- those donuts were delicious, but I also had other food on other days. Since working in the schools, I have seen the 8th graders just subsist on chips, pop and candy- so I can see where she is coming from, but not for a 10 year old or even the younger ones that are in Kindergarten through 2nd grade.. (which is the younger competitive team.)

But as Matt says we did not hirer McKel to be Mckenna's nutritionist just her dance teacher. It is up to us to make sure that Mckenna is knowledgeable about her eating habits and what is good for her and what is not. Plus McKel can not have the proper knowledge of what is being eaten at all these girls houses, if they have become voluntary veggitarians (like Mckenna is most of the time,) or if they have special diets etc... I just think that it is something that is not for her to incorporate.

You could say, but Sandi- she isn't making them do this, she challenged them. Yes, that is true- it is just a challenge, but as a young impressionable girl, Mckenna wants to do what her teacher tells her or encourages her to do because she is her role model, her mentor and for Mckenna like a big sister since she has know McKel since she was 3 and McKel was 14. I think that we have finally made Mckenna understand that it is not a mandatory thing, that it is optional and that we would encourage her to cut out candy as a whole but that we are not going to obsess about it.

Yesterday (this has been 1 week now- It takes awhile to get the computer with a Relief Society project to do which is very challenging.) Matt went to the store on Wednesday while the girls were in the car, had bought cookies and other groceries and they devoured all the cookies(another side effect of not eating a single sweet- you binge on that item near you.)Mckenna realized that she didn't want to do the challenge because than she could not have her weekly ice cream cone with the girls in our dance carpool.

I don't know, Am I being overly sensitive to this?

How would you handle it?
Do you think that teachers should be nutritionist also?
Doe you relate to this feeling of worring about eating disorders and your kids?