When children reach school age, it is not uncommon for them to want to partake in extracurricular activities as a way to fit in and have fun with their peers. Though there are a lot of options, most turn to sports as a start. Joining the baseball, softball, basketball, or football team is a great way to have fun, get healthy, and make friends. In order for your children to perform their best at every game, they need to eat a well-balanced diet to fuel their ever-moving bodies. Here’s a few ways you can keep you kid in optimal health when they’re playing sports.
Eating meals consisting of the major food groups is imperative for your young athletes. It provides their body with the fuel it needs to get through game day and beyond. Each meal should consist of starches, vegetables, and protein for proper balance. Starches break down into sugar, which helps to provide energy; protein provides strength, while veggies help to provide vitamins and nutrients their growing bodies need. If you want to focus on certain areas like height, speed, or endurance, you might consider nutrition for helping kids grow taller so they can reach the height they need to perform. Your pediatrician can also provide nutritional advice.
Keep Them Hydrated
Whether on the field or off, hydration is critical to your child’s – and every person’s – health. This is especially true because children are prone to heat-related illnesses because of exercise or physical activity. Keep sports drinks to a minimum as they are often loaded with sugar, which slows them down and can actually be dehydrating. Instead, make sure that they’re drinking plenty of water and eating hydrating fruits like oranges or watermelon. You can even kick their water up a notch by adding in things like lemon or orange so it has more flavor and is easier to get them to drink more of.
Never Skip Breakfast
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is the first thing your kids will eat and will aid in helping to keep them energized throughout the day. Whether it’s a bowl of cereal, fruit, or pancakes, make sure that your little athletes are getting the morning boost they need to feel good all day, which should always include protein.
Choose Snacks Wisely
When game day arrives, it can be common for parents to pack snacks for their kids to munch on before, in between, and after an event. Instead of sports drinks and chips, try packing smarter snacks that will keep them hydrated and fueled. Some ideas might include orange slices, Greek yogurt, pretzels, nuts, or cheese sticks.
Timing is Everything
Feeding your kids the right things is important, but what time you feed them also makes a difference. Since it can take an hour or two to digest large meals, it is recommended that you don’t schedule meal times too close to practice or games. Eating too close to engaging in physical activity could result in stomach cramps, among other things. By spacing out meals and packing quick, easy-to-digest snacks, you’ll minimize the chances of this happening.
Believe it or not, what you feed your children after a game can also have an impact on his or her health. Their diet should include carbs to help replenish any glycogen lost, protein to rebuild muscles, and sodium to replace salt lost through sweat.
Engaging in fun activities like sports is beneficial for children of all ages. Whether your child is enrolled in football, baseball, or soccer, it is important that you are providing them with the best fuel. Outside of making sure they get a good night sleep, you should also see to it that they are eating a well-balanced diet that will help improve their growth and development and boost their performance on the field. Keep each of the above-mentioned tips in mind to ensure that your little athlete has the energy, strength, power, and endurance they need to succeed both off the field and on.