?Teenage Mystery?

February 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm 1 comment

My teenage son had been coming home from school the past few weeks looking like death warmed over.  His half-closed eyes had dark circles under them as he lumbered slowly through the kitchen preparing himself a snack.  He said he was “really tired.”

Being the dietitian mom that I am, my first question was, “What have you been eating?”  His response, “The school lunch.”

How bad can that be?  They are supposed to include all the food groups, right?  I did my Food Service rotation of my Dietetic Internship at the very school he goes to and, although I would not usually feed that food to my family (I never did eat it while I was there), it does its job and most of the kids like it.  Now that I think of it, he probably likes it because I rarely serve tater tots, mashed potatoes (are they really just potatoes?), spicy chicken patty, or french fries.  But I try not to be too strict because he feels he is forced to eat whole grains, quinoa, brussels sprouts, black beans, massive amounts of vegetables and too many vegetarian meals.  Actually, if you ask him, he says we have soup every night!  So not true!

I began to panic and think he must have low levels of iron, or mono, or something terrible to make him so tired.

“I’m taking you to the doctor’s,” I say.

“NO!” he responds.  “Wait and see if it gets better.”

“OK.  If you don’t get better by next week, I am making an appointment.”

“I’m not getting any shots.”

“You wo’t get any shots.  But I want to find out if you are anemic.  They’ll just need to do a blood test.”

“NO!”  (He is deathly afraid of needles.)

Fast forward to “next week.”  He walked in the house yesterday and announced:  “Today in Physics, G Block, I felt really tired.  That is when it always happens.  I could not keep my eyes open.  There is NO WAY I could listen to what the teacher was saying.  I couldn’t even concentrate on what my friends were saying.  But now I am fine.”

“When is G Block?” I ask.

“1:00.”

“When do you have lunch?”

“About 1 1/2 hours before that.”

Light Bulb!  Ding, ding, ding!!!

“And what did you have for lunch today?”

“Mashed potatoes, bread and fried chicken.”

“AHA!”  Ding, ding, ding!!!

Problem solved.

My son was eating a meal of mostly fast-digesting carbohydrates.  These type of carbs are also known as high-glycemic foods.  These include white bread, baked potatoes, rice, sports drinks (this is good during a workout), bagels, and many processed foods.  The food is quickly digested into glucose and dumped into the blood stream.  The body produces insulin to bring the glucose into the cells to match the amount of glucose in the blood.  Thus, a large amount of insulin quickly speeds the glucose out of the blood and into the cells to use or stored for future use and, if excess, stored as fat.  The result:  in about an hour, there is no glucose left for energy.

The solution:  Eat a balanced meal that includes a protein with slower-digesting carbohydrates, such as vegetables, some fruits (those higher in fiber) and whole grains such as whole wheat bread in your sandwich.  This results in energy (glucose) that is SLOWLY released into the blood stream to provide a steady flow of energy throughout the day and avoiding a sudden drop of energy an hour or so after lunch.

When I explained this to him, realization spread over his face.

“I ate the KIND bar you gave me in case this happened and as soon as I ate it, I felt better!  Wow!”

Last night he was downstairs making himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread to bring to school today.

My husband laughed.  “Nothing motivates him more than avoiding a blood test!”

I’m just glad he was able to see first hand what I’ve been telling him for months.  I think he may give me a little more credit now.

Side note:  This morning he packed up his PB&J.  I gave him an apple to go along with it.  I offered to make him a second sandwich.  (He’s 6’4″, 160lbs.  He can use a big lunch!)  He said, “Did you think I was only eating a sandwich for lunch?  I’m still buying lunch today.  I’m just having this, too!”

Oh, well.  Progress.

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Energy Drinks and Teen Athletes Smmmmmoooothies!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Elise  |  February 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I love it when the results speak for themselves! 🙂

    Reply

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