It’s that time of year: spring! For many families this means baseball season. For Florida families, it is the end of soccer and start-up of baseball or tee-ball or swimming or soccer (again).
As a parent of soccer, baseball and ballet-playing children, I want my kids to perform their best. Performance is best when the child has enough rest at night and nourishing foods and drinks during the day. So why do I see chips, sugar drinks, candy and cupcakes eaten after games? I really don’t get it! Chips and drink boxes are great at the occasional party, but after running around for an hour?
Think about this: If you exercise at a gym, do you see adults eating chips and fruit punch after they get off the elliptical? I don’t think so! They drink water, smoothies or protein/energy bars. So why do our kids eat chips, cookies, cupcakes and sugary drinks after playing a game of soccer?
I have a few theories: 1. Chips, drink boxes and cookies come in individual wrappers=easy
2. Once kids try it, they like it and parents are happy when kids are happy
3. They know these foods are accepted by other parents as snacks, but many parents want their kids to eat healthier. If we all start to bring more nutrient-rich snacks then we are teaching our kids how to fuel their bodies for life not just today.
So what would be better options for these growing, active, nutrient-craving bodies? How about:
- Bananas! This is the favorite among athletes for its easy packaging and easy digestion…both pre and post games. I pair this with low-fat chocolate milk when it is our turn to bring snack. You can buy the 8-ounce milk boxes and chill or a ½ gallon and cups (I prefer this so nothing is wasted). Kids love this post-game snack and it replenishes their muscles, stomach and brains!
- Fresh orange slices: yes, this needs to be sliced before the game, but it is easier for the kids to eat. Again, great with chocolate milk.
- Low-fat cheese sticks and apple slices.
- Washed grapes and strawberries.
- Graham or animal crackers and low-fat milk.
- Yogurt sticks or individual cups of yogurt…but don’t forget the spoons. Since you have spoons, you could also bring applesauce cups.
- Water, water, water. Skip the sports (sugar) drinks. They are not any better than fruit punch.
Whether you secretly have the Olympics in mind for your children or just want them to be active and learn a sport, you want your children to fuel their bodies to play their best, right? Don’t be afraid that kids won’t eat it or will demand chips…you just might be surprised how well they respond to nutritious snacks. Now get it out there and have fun!