Kids Eating Right for Sports

Croton bodybuilder and mom Jennifer Minihan writes about healthy eating when it comes to elementary-age kids and sports.

When you play a sport, you make sure you have the equipment you need-right?  But how do you help your game from the inside out? You should consider swallowing some healthy food packed with the nutrients you need to keep your energy levels high and your focus on the game. The right foods and drinks can help you be a better athlete.


Let’s talk food.  Eating a complete meal 1 ½ to 2 hours before a practice or game is key.  Eating too close to the event could give you a stomach ache and will actually make you feel lethargic during the sport.  The body will spend its energy on digesting the meal rather than fueling the body for the sport. Well, what is a complete meal? Depending on what time of day your event begins some great choices are:  trail mix or dried cereal on top of yogurt; a bowl of cereal with milk and fruit on top; whole grain pancakes served with eggs; a bowl of oatmeal served with eggs; toast and eggs or smoothies.  These meal combinations include a protein and a carbohydrate with incidental fat-which are the key nutrients needed for a pre-game meal.   If playing time is going to last longer than an hour to an hour and a half than pack a sideline snack.  Snack ideas include one or two fruit slices; a half dollar size serving of dried fruit (raisins are perfect); 2 whole grain crackers with a cut up banana sandwiched in between (for a change substitute rice cakes for the crackers); or a handful of dry whole grain cereal.  The idea is to provide the body with a carbohydrate for a quick burst of energy without weighing the digestion process down.  Avoid sugary stuff like sodas or candy bars right before practicing or competing. You might get a little energy boost, but it will fade fast, leaving you feeling drained. But eating and drinking the right stuff will help you play your best.

Bring on the Liquids

Water, water and more water. Drinking water prior to and after the sporting event is just as important as drinking water during the event. When you sweat you lose water through your skin.  Sweating helps cool the body down, but if you lose too much water this way, you could become dehydrated. Water is the best drink for your body.

Other meal and sideline snack ideas


Banana with nut butter or unsweetened applesauce; add whole grain cereal on top for a great crunch; put it on a whole grain hot dog bun for a banana dog; Steel Cut Oats/Oatmeal with nuts and or cut up fruit; tuna, turkey or lean ham sandwich; cheese sticks with fruit and crackers; celery with cream cheese and raisins; and grilled cheese (add tomato slices);whole grain pretzels mixed with dried fruit or try a quarter slice of cheese between crackers.


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