Spring is here and with sports getting underway, it is important to think about the kinds of foods we are putting into our little athletes’ bodies. As a pediatrician I encourage kids to be active, and organized sports are one way to keep up that activity. However, as a parent with kids in sports I have noticed that after the game kids are often offered a lot of unhealthy high calorie snacks and high sugar sports drinks with many artificial ingredients. The average young athlete’s after-the-game snack may equal 2-4 times the amount of calories burned during the game.
This spring, consider talking to your coaches and teammates’ parents about a no-snack policy. If parents are still interested in bringing snacks consider a fruit and water policy. Only about half of children in Virginia are getting the recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies a day. Why not make game time an opportunity to get in another serving! Generally, water is a good rehydration drink for average play, but fruits and other whole foods help to provide some of the electrolytes that kids may lose by sweating on really hot days.
If your team chooses to give fruit, try fruit skewers in a rainbow of colors or fresh whole fruit. Virginia strawberries are plentiful in May, and make a sweet treat treat after the game. After taking healthy alternatives to my son’s games I can tell you that the kids were just as happy getting delicious local fruit!