How to feed your children for sports?
Have you decided to be healthier and more active? Good for you! I hope I can support you on this wonderful journey. My previous article “What is the best workout for you” might help you.
But, what about your kids? They look healthy, right? They are full of energy- if only you could find the OFF button sometimes! – You juggle lunch boxes, healthy snacks, trying to fit dinner between soccer practice and ballet.
But what should you really focus on to make sure they fuel properly, feel good during practice, improve in the sports they love, and recover fast after a tough workout?
As a mom of 3 myself, I have been sitting on the bleachers quite a bit, chatting with parents, talking with coaches, and observing the kids. So first, let me tell you about usual errors I have seen.
Sports nutrition for kids: 4 common mistakes
– Eating food that’s hard to digest right before practice: fatty meat, anything fried, chips, burgers, nuggets, etc.
– Eating food that creates a sudden burst of energy and then a crash: foods with refined sugar, sweets, soda, candy, etc.
– Not eating regularly during the day before practice or skipping meals.
– Arriving at practice dehydrated. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink WATER!
Good, now we know what NOT to do.
So what do we feed our active kids?
In a nutshell, we have to remember that CARBS provide energy. PROTEINS help with muscle growth and repair. Good quality FATS make everything run smoothly and keep us warm. OK, it’s a bit of a shortcut, but sometimes, it’s good to stick to the basics.
A combo of the 4 things below:
– Easy to digest CARBS (applesauce, dried fruits, fresh fruits…)
– Complex CARBS (bread, bagel, crackers, granola, oatmeal, pretzels…)
– A bit of PROTEIN (nut butter, string cheese, plain yogurt, plain milk, fish, lean meat such as turkey or chicken… but nothing fried! )
Avoid FAT right before practice: it hard to digest! Stay away from chicken nuggets, chips, fries or burgers just before practice.
If practice lasts longer than 1 hour, you can add a bit of juice in that water, or you can give your child some dried fruits for a quick snack.
If practice lasts over 2 hours, maybe some extra sodium will be required. Either in a drink (such as coconut water for example) or in a salty snack like crackers or pretzels.
If your child is not allergic, a handful of nuts or a string cheese might be a good option right after practice, so that your kid doesn’t starve on the way home from the locker room. But don’t give them too much if dinner is around the corner!
When you get home, you want to feed your children a well-balanced meal with enough water to help them recover faster. By well balanced, I mean, whole foods (REAL foods!) that provide them with carbs, protein, and good fat. What I call “good fat” is, for example, lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocado, whole milk and whole milk yogurt, cheese…).
They will be hungry after practice, so why not start the meal with plenty of green vegetables? We are less picky when we are starving 🙂
Of course, all children are different, and their needs will vary depending on their age, where they are on their growth curve, what their allergies and preferences are, etc.
If you remember only ONE thing!
The most important thing to keep in mind is that what is healthy for you is usually healthy for your child, and what is NOT healthy for you, is most of the time NOT HEALTHY FOR YOUR CHILD. So focus on real food (as opposed to highly processed food) and plain water, and you will be stacking all the odds in their favor!
Go feed those champions and if you have questions, ask away in the comment section or email me. I will be happy to try and help where I can.
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None of my content, articles, services and products are intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illness or disease. The information provided in my services, programs, and classes is not intended to take the place of advice from your medical professional, licensed dietitian, or nutritionist. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.