Bethlehem Press

Friday, December 15, 2017

Sparrold aims to help kids build healthy food habits

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by Katie McDonald kmcdonald@tnonline.com in Sports

Sport nutritionist Erin Sparrold from the Bethlehem-based sports psychology company Mind of the Athlete is on a mission, not just to help athletes feed their performance, but to help them develop a healthy relationship with food.

“There is so much negative messaging around food, I want them to understand the power food has to build health,” said Sparrold. “To have a balance is important, not just for an event.”

Most recently, Sparrold has worked with DeSales University student athletes, Lehigh University wrestlers, and Emmaus High School football players, as well as individual student athletes, and even businesses and gyms in the area.

“I talk with groups about sport-specific nutrition. I take them to the grocery store, and show them how to find products,” Sparrold said. “It simplifies the process, so they’re not in a store reading labels for two hours.”

One of Sparrold’s clients is an Iron Man tri-athlete, who is also a Type One diabetic. Sparrold worked with him to match his nutrition to his workload.

“You eat to match what your training is requiring of your body, so at the beginning, he didn’t have the same requirements as he did at the end,” said Sparrold. “He also maintained his blood sugar levels. He did great.”

Sparrold herself is an athlete, so she can relate to what athletes go through while training.

“It’s not easy, so when I see athletes adapt and succeed, it’s wonderful. It’s a milestone,” she said. “They’re the ones who do the work and get the credit.”

Sparrold has gained a new-found respect for wrestlers, in particular.

“There are weight certification challenges, and then there is the exertion, and what they expect of their bodies. The amount of power and strength they have to produce for the positions they’re in, they are crazy strong,” said Sparrold. “It’s fascinating and really fun to watch.”

Sparrold can also get a little protective of the wrestlers she helps.

“They are great kids, and their coaches have embraced that wrestlers are young bodies trying to grow,” she said.

This coming fall, Sparrold and Mind of the Athlete sports psychologist Dr. Megan Cannon will be launching an online body image coaching group.

“To be supportive and encouraging, I love it. Questions are absolutely my favorite part because I can see the personal needs. It’s an opportunity to solidify the process and dispel a few myths,” Sparrold said. “Sometimes it just takes little tweaks, gradually making continual changes and listening to the feedback their body is giving them.”