14 August 2017

Head of Junior School

We are what we eat

Fool's Gold Loaf is a sandwich made by the Colorado Mine Company, a restaurant in Denver, Colorado. The sandwich consists of a single warmed, hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with the contents of one jar of creamy peanut butter, one jar of grape jelly, and a pound of bacon.. According to The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley, it was the focus of a midnight sandwich run by Elvis Presley and his friends. Taking his private jet from Graceland, Presley and his friends purchased 22 of the sandwiches and spent three hours eating them and drinking Perrier and champagne before flying home. The story became legend and the sandwich became the subject of continued media interest and part of numerous cookbooks, typically focused around Presley's love of food. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fool's_Gold_Loaf)

The Fool's Gold Loaf has been reported to contain as much as 42,000 calories. In 1995 a BBC Arena programme estimated Elvis's daily intake at 94,000 calories a day. For comparison, the typical diet of an adult Asian elephant contains 50,000 calories a day. Elvis died at age 42 from "hypertensive cardiovascular disease with atherosclerotic heart disease" - an arrhythmia, or heart attack for short.

While I think very few of us could consume the quantities Elvis is reported to have eaten, the impact of diet on performance is very clear. On Wednesday 30 March, dietician Julie Meek addressed parents for the Junior and Middle Schools on diet and its impact on our children as they manage their busy days at school and at home.

Julie Meek is an accredited practicing dietitian who worked for many years with The Dockers, Perth Wildcats and athletes at the WA Institute of Sport. She has helped thousands achieve personal and business success through eating well and implementing the strategies of the elite sports person.

Julie is the resident 'nutrition and performance' expert with a regular segment on 6PR and the author of "truth, lies & chocolate" and "Ready, Set…Go". She knows that health is a powerful instrument that can be used to improve the performance of business teams, athletes, school communities and individuals.

We ask our children to perform all day each day both mentally and physically. The challenge we face is in feeding them and providing them the fuel they need to perform to their best. Other factors such as growth, sleep, hydration, stress and exercise can impact on performance, to name but a few.

Children pick up messages about food from the media when they are younger, and from their friends as they get older. A parent's role to help their child to develop good foods habits from a young age is very important.

Children need to optimize their energy levels. Breakfast is a great starting point. While not all children will eat cereal, the ones they do eat can impact their start to the day. Corn Flakes and Rice Bubbles have more salt in them than a packet of chips. Special K is high in sugar as is Nutri Grain. While these are marketed well, and aimed at children, their fast acting carbohydrates will wear off by 8:00am. A good cereal with sugar less that 8g per 100g serving is recommended.

Energy levels are lowest at 3:00pm. What generally gets adults through is a cup of coffee. For children it is the same and providing the easy option can be the simpler choice. Fruit and sandwiches provide an energy boost that will be better sustained.

There is so much to say about food, nuts and brain development; fish, omega 3 and body and brain development; eggs and neurotransmitters; milk, cheese, yogurt and calcium and bones. We need to help children to make the connection between food, energy and performance.

The fork in the road is healthy food or easy food. McDonalds or live a long time and perform at your best. We need to put children in the driver seat and teach them the skills to make the best choices for their health and well-being.

The guidance Julie provided on the night to assist with analysing your food choices and to begin to plan for healthier food options is available as a hand out from the JS Reception.

Good eating everyone.

Mr John Stewart

Head of Junior School