Devil’s Glen Hunger Games challenge encourages young people to adopt healthy eating habits
The young athletes took their training at Duntroon Ski Club to a new level this month, taking part in the club’s first-ever ‘Hunger Games’ initiative, which aimed to promote healthy eating habits.
The competition was called the “HOWCAT Hunger Games Challenge”. Different from the popular movie franchise, which featured physical endurance battles, this was a challenge meant to encourage the development of a healthy eating mindset during March, which is Nutrition Month.
“Throughout the season, I would see kids eating muffins or chips and maybe the athlete here or there had a banana, and they would come up to me so excited when they had that piece of fruit,” says Catherine Struss, a coach of the club’s under-14 (U-14) division. “So I thought you know what for March, why not make it a competition? We’re all athletes, we’re all competitive, and let’s see who can eat the most fruits and vegetables.”
The name HOWCAT is a combination of his name and his colleague Wayne Howard, whose name is Howie.
The trainers developed a points-based system, assigning different values for different fruits and vegetables based on their nutritional value. They were allowed up to two visits to the grocery store each week, which also provided points.
The athletes are all ski racers between the ages of 12 and 13.
“We do a whole bunch of different disciplines,” says Struss. “It’s basically about preparing the athletes for the next steps in their ski career if they want to take it to the college level or to a national team, a provincial team. I hope you produce this athlete who will eventually go to the Olympics one day!”
Struss, a holistic nutritionist, stresses the importance of healthy eating for athletes.
“It’s important to start cementing that at a young age so they can start thinking about it,” Struss says. “I didn’t take anything out of their diet, that wasn’t the point. It was just to plant a seed, spark excitement and provide variety so they could start to question their choices. in getting older.”
However, unlike a traditional food system that awards points, participants were not required to remove unhealthy items from their diet, but to add as many fruits and vegetables as possible.
“I’m beyond proud of all the athletes, and then of course Devil’s Glen has been so supportive of me,” Struss said. “It takes a village to raise a child, and I think that couldn’t be truer in this case.”
The competition attracted many athletes, with the winner earning over 1,000 points.
As the athletes wrapped up their season, prizes were handed out on Saturday, which were largely ski-focused and donated by various community partners.