As a registered dietitian, obviously my interests and expertise lie in food and nutrition science. But for me personally, my passion extends beyond that. Starting gymnastics at the age of 4, I have always been an athlete. I continued my gymnastics career through high school, as well as diving and equestrian events. After high school I walked on to the Michigan State University (MSU) women’s gymnastics team, but suffered a career-ending injury during my freshmen year. However, I was not ready for my collegiate career to be done, so I transferred to the women’s diving team and competed as a 3 meter springboard and platform diver during my last three years at MSU.
After college, during my dietetic internship, I became heavily involved in the running community. I ended up running five full marathons, several half marathons, and I coached a running team at the local YMCA. Today, I still enjoy running, but I also love bodybuilding, water and snow sports, hiking, and going on long walks with my dog and fiancé.
Due to my extensive background and love for sports I have always enjoyed studying and reading about how to fuel for optimal performance. Therefore, after receiving my dietetics degree and working for a few years, I went back to school and obtained my Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. Along with this degree, my other personal career goal was always to become a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), which is the premier professional sports nutrition credential in the U.S. The requirements to become a CSSD include:
The most fun and valuable sports nutrition experience I have been involved in to date, has been shadowing the Detroit Red Wings dietitian. Over the past several months I have had the opportunity to work with the Red Wings RD to:
Say goodbye to summer, because… It’s back to school time for the kiddos! It’s easy to see why the summer flew by so quickly with baseball games, football practice start-ups, summer camps, swim lessons, and trips up north. The summers seem to be busier and more active than ever! Throughout all of these summer activities most parents are adamant about their kids staying hydrated and adequately fueled. Just because summer is coming to an end, this immaculate attention to nutrition and hydration should not falter – for you or your kids!
Children need healthy food and beverage choices even more throughout the school day to help them learn and grow. In fact, several studies indicate that sound nutrition is critical for providing the building blocks of the brain, like alpha-linoleic acid (omega-3 fatty acids), that help improve academic performance¹. As a registered dietitian who has worked in schools, I have oftentimes seen students bring foods from home that are laden in sugar, saturated fat, and too high in calories for one meal, which can actually decrease brain function.
Making sure your child takes off for school with a healthy lunch in hand, or planned from the school’s menu, is one of the most important things you can do for their health. School meals are healthier than ever, as the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 set meal and nutrition standards on all foods served to students – these include daily fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and lean sources of protein; as well as parameters for calories, sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. However, if your child enjoys a packed lunch from home, here are some easy and healthy choices:
Banana and Sunbutter Roll Ups
Celery and Carrot Sticks with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
Low-fat or fat-free Milk
English Muffin Mini Pizzas
Romaine Salad with Green Goddess Yogurt Dressing
100% Fruit Juice
BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Greek Yogurt Coleslaw
Decaffeinated Unsweetened Iced Tea
Tuna Salad with Whole Grain Crackers
Bell Pepper Strips with Hummus
Cup of Grapes
Diluted Sports Drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
Corn and Black Bean Wrap
Salsa or Pico de Gallo with Baked Tortilla Chips
Fat-Free Flavored Milk
Turkey Burger on Whole Grain Bun
Baked Sweet Potatoes Fries or Wedges
Cinnamon Apple Slices
All of these fun and healthy lunch ideas are perfect for busy parents as well! Cook and assemble everything ahead of time, make enough for your entire family, and pack lunch for yourself as well! Here are some other easy grab and go options for busy parents. Enjoy!
1. Meeusen, R. (2014). Exercise, nutrition and the brain. Sports Medicine,44(1), 47-56.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week, plus muscle strengthening activity at least two days per week, to promote overall good health for American adults. The CDC even says that ten minutes at a time is all that it takes to reap the health benefits of regular physical activity, as long as you are reaching the weekly guidelines.
So, how did 10,000 steps per day suddenly become such a popular fitness trend? And how does this recommendation stack up against the CDC’s guidelines for weekly activity? The encouragement from smart pedometers and fitness trackers, like Fitbits, to hit a certain amount of steps has amplified this movement of 10,000 steps per day. Yes, walking 10,000 steps or more is great; however, there is not a single number threshold that will turn you into an elite athlete if you hit it or cross it. You will gain health benefits and reach the CDC’s weekly physical activity guidelines by walking less – approximately anywhere from 7,000 to 8,000 steps.
Research has shown, however, that more is better. One study found that women who increased their steps to nearly 10,000 per day for 24 weeks reduced their blood pressure, while another study found that overweight women who walked 10,000 steps a day improved their glucose levels. In addition walking can help you maintain and control your weight.
The problem is, most Americans are not walking, or moving around enough. Adults in the United States average about 5,900 steps per day, which falls below the recommended amount of daily and weekly physical activity. Walking less than 5,000 steps per day puts people at greater risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. So, although there is not a specific number of steps that you must hit every day, the important thing is to get up, get outside if you can, and move. Consistent physical activity leads to many health benefits, including improved mood, decreased stress, weight maintenance, and decreased risk for many chronic diseases. Whether or not you are tracking and aiming specifically for 10,000 steps per day, there are still ways to get up and move. See below for some fun ideas!
Allison Tropf, MS, RD, CSSD
Allison is a Sports Dietitian in Michigan. She enjoys helping others reach their nutrition and fitness goals through reliable and trustworthy recommendations.
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