School has started. After-school sports and activities have begun. Our kids are busy, busy, busy! They go to school, study for tests, play, train for sports, and compete in sporting events all while growing. It is important to know how to keep them well fed, happy and healthy.
We start by being prepared. Check out a few tips to be ready when our kiddos need fuel to keep going:
Short training sessions - 60 min or less = energy (carbs)
Food Examples: whole grain crackers; whole fresh fruit; granola bars without a bunch of candy/coatings + WATER
Keep fast snacks in your car, their bag, their backpacks, your bag - everywhere - so you always have something on hand.
Longer training sessions - more than 60 min = energy + staying power (carbs + protein)
• Breakfast - toast and eggs; veggie omelets; oatmeal and milk; cereal and cheese stick; peanut butter toast; protein smoothies
It’s okay to think outside the traditional breakfast foods. If they like peanut and jelly sandwiches - that’s great! Homemade mac n cheese, that works too! It really does not matter so long as you are combining foods for power and energy and avoiding a bunch of added sugar.
I know breakfast can be tough because of time and interest in eating in the morning, so take it with you in the car.
• Grab n Go ideas: Granola bar + cheese stick; Greek Yogurt + fruit; Whole Grain wraps with meat/cheese; protein smoothies
Competition days -High/Low all day = (energy + staying power) + quick energy (longer lasting carbs + protein + fast acting carbs)
• Breakfast - same as above - these are the longer lasting carbs and protein power - a great start!
• Pack - More protein to carry them through the long day - Core Powers; Milk; Cheese Sticks; Jerky; Nuts; Greek Yogurt; protein bars (avoid soy - tummy distress; max 15 g protein)
• Pack - A GOOD LUNCH - yes, your athlete may be eating lunch in staging so don’t be forced into having to buy whatever is available; pack a turkey/ham sandwich on whole wheat bread; peanut butter and jelly; sliced fruit; whole grain crackers; cheese stick; water/milk - you get the idea - make is something easy for them to eat throughout the day
• Pack - Fast energy - finally your child is ready to compete! They might need a quick pick me up - fruit leathers, sliced fruit, dried fruit, dark chocolate (yes, chocolate can be good) and water or water mixed with a little juice
• Recover - eating specific types of protein (yogurt, fish, nuts, eggs), snacking on some dark fruits (cherries, blueberries), drinking some water - all good in helping to reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness DOMS - some red wine or beer works great for relieving some of the stress us parents have endured through the tournament
WATER, MILK and SPORTS DRINKS:
Absolutely critical! Kids should come to training well rested and well hydrated. If your child feels light-headed, it may because they are dehydrated. Teach them to TRUST THIRST, too. Water keeps their energy levels up and their blood sugar levels under control. Make sure your athlete has a full water bottle and that they are sipping on it throughout their training as their thirst indicates.
Even if milk isn’t right for your child, calcium is and milk is one of the easiest ways to make sure they get enough. After age nine, kids need twice as much calcium as they did when they were younger and will continue to need plenty of calcium until their early twenties. Bones are developing and will only store calcium when we are young. If milk / dairy doesn’t work for your child, look for alternatives that meet their calcium needs.
Enjoying calcium rich foods BEFORE working out - milk, kefir, cheese, yogurt, fortified “nut” milks, supplements - can help prevent soreness following. These same foods are also great for training recovery, too.
Not as necessary as you might think - but, if your child tends to sweat easily, or sweats a lot during a workout, an electrolyte drink may be a good idea. However, water and a little food may even be better. Sports drinks are often high in sugar, artificial colors and flavors, and so consider what your athlete needs are when it comes to sports drinks.
Refined sugars burn off too quickly and leave kids feeling lousy. Yogurts, smoothies, instant oatmeals, muffins, cereals, sports drinks, even bagels can be loaded with sugar - read labels to determine if the item fits better as a dessert. Keep in mind, kids and adults should have LESS than 25 grams of sugar of added sugar a day.
BREAKFAST RECIPE TO TRY:
Chunky Monkey Waffles
One/Two Frozen Whole Grain Waffles
2 TBSP Natural Peanut Butter
1 Whole Banana, Sliced
Mini Dark Chocolate Chips
Toast the waffles; spread with peanut butter; top with sliced banana; sprinkle with a few chocolate chips. Yum!