It can be hard to eat a balanced and healthy diet when families are pulled a million ways during a normal week. We know 1 in 3 American children and teens eat fast food daily, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. As parents and role models, you are responsible for stopping the fast food cycle and getting creative with quick dinner options.
In an article published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Dr. Sarah Kinesll MD, CAQ, FAAP offers the following tips to help busy families eat and drink better before, during, and after game time.
- Go for small frequent meals and snacks. Try to spread calories throughout the day and avoid large meals in close proximity to exercise. Eating every 3 hours will help to keep your child’s blood sugar steady and also decrease overeating at meal times.
- Healthy snacks in the car are ok! While the single serving snacks from the store are handy, try creating your own pre-packaged snacks that feature the foods your kids like most such as a half sandwich on whole grain bread or a bag of sliced fruit. Don’t forget about apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, and other fruit that also comes pre-packaged in a single serving size. Other good snack ideas include dried fruit and nuts, hard boiled eggs, and unsweetened applesauce.
- Have a fueling and hydration strategy. Young children participating in light activities lasting 1 hour or less may not need to snack before and after exercise. Rather, help these children focus on good nutrition every day. Older, more active kids may benefit from some of the fueling and hydration strategies listed below.
- Before exercise: Around 3-4 hours before exercise, an athlete should eat mostly carbohydrates with a moderate amount of protein. This small meal should be low in fiber and fat, as these can cause an upset stomach.
- During exercise: Hydrating is important during exercise. Encourage your child to have a small amount of fluid (3-4 ounces) every 15 minutes. For activities less than an hour, water is sufficient. For activities lasting longer than 1-2 hours, or in very hot environments, sports drinks can help replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes. Sports drinks are very different from energy drinks which have caffeine and excess sugar. Energy drinks are not recommended.
- After exercise: Within 30-60 minutes after exercise, it’s important to replenish any fluids lost and to refuel with an appropriate source of energy. Focusing on a snack that is rich in carbohydrates and proteins will help rebuild and restore muscles. Chocolate milk is an excellent example of a recovery drink.
- Find energy balance. Athletes need more energy during times when they are more active than normal (e.g., try-outs, tournaments, multiple or overlapping sports). Encourage and plan specifically for extra food and fueling during these periods. Snacks that combine a carb like a cracker and some protein like peanut butter are the most energy efficient. Make sure your child has access to these kinds of power-packed snack options.
For more tips, view the whole article here: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Sports-Nutrition-for-Busy-Families-and-Busy-Lifestyles.aspx