Big A started soccer back in September and the after game snack frenzy has begun. The coach told all of the parents, who get assigned snack duty, to keep the snacks healthy. But that hasn’t stopped the cookies, cupcakes and other not-so-nutritious fare from being chosen as snacks.
I recently went to an educational session at the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo on how to feed active kids. The experts offered up advice on what constitutes a good post-game snack, so I just had to share.
The why behind it
I think it’s important to consider the making of a good post-game snack from a physiological point of view. First off, these recommendations are for children who work hard for a period of time. With soccer, Big A runs almost the entire hour so I consider that high activity — maybe not the same as an endurance athlete but hard work for a 5-year-old!
Most after game snacks should be eaten 30 minutes after game time and the goal is to help tired muscles recover. Children who stay active most of the game (and practice) are likely to have glycogen stores (carbs stored in muscles used for energy) that are somewhat depleted — and it’s a good idea to replace them.
So carbohydrate-rich snacks are good choices along with a little protein is to aid muscle repair and stimulate new tissue.
Here are 5 snacks that fit the bill
1. Bagels or graham crackers with peanut butter
2. Fruit (great for young kids that may not be working as hard)
3. Trail mix
4. Animal crackers/granola bars
5. Fruit smoothies/100% juice packs/low-fat yogurt sticks
Timing matters too. If the game is close to mealtime, like lunch or dinner, some juice or fruit is perfect followed by a balanced meal. A bigger snack is a good idea when the main meal is a couple of hours away.
Sally from Real Mom Nutrition, has been crusading for healthier snacks after her kid’s games — some great conversations going on over there.
Here’s my take on it: While there’s a time and a place for treats like cookies and cupcakes after games isn’t one of them. These items are too high in fat and not ideal for recovery. They also teach kids to associate such foods (and expect them!) after-game time which is not so smart.
What kind of snacks are your kids getting post-game time? Has this been an issue for you?
I’m so glad to read this, definitely going to print this out and save for next year. None of the parents on our team ever talked about appropriate snack food and I hope to change that. Soccer just ended last week for us and it was finally my snack day. When my son and I walked into the store he asked if we could bring a healthy snack. All the snacks so far where processed junk food and we talked about them being unhealthy. I really had visions of bringing little fruit salads, but I just wasn’t sure how easy it would be for the kids to eat in the car or if others would prefer packaged food. We picked out packaged apple slices, baby carrots and 100% juice boxes (next time I’m bringing water). I could have saved a ton of money if I just bought apples and sliced whole carrots. When I brought out the snack the moms all started saying, “That’s a good idea!” Only one child didn’t take the carrots.
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says
Good for you Heather! I was nervous that my snack wouldn’t be well received but the kids loved it (organic yogurt sticks and orange slices). When it comes to advising parents, I think telling them what kids need will probably work better than saying they need to bring something healthy.
This year our coach decided not to do snacks after the game for the kids, but our game times are at 6:30 which is our dinner time. Since our commute from work doesn’t give us enough time to eat before we go, we try to pack our ‘meal’ with us. It really means that dinner that night is more ‘snacky’, but we usually choose from basic cheese quesadillas, pepperoni slices, lunch meat, apple sauce, orange slices, cheese sticks, etc. for all of us to have. I tried veggies with hummus, but the girls didn’t want that on the ball field even though they’ll eat it elsewhere. Yes, we have the occasional chips with this but we try to ballance it out.
We always have a little extra and often other team mates, they’re either 4 or 5 years old, come ask if they can have a bite. These kids are starving! Very few of them have eaten before the game and their last ‘snack’ was about 3:00. I love that my oldest is playing soccer and we’ll work around the meal part so she isn’t eating dinner too late in the evening.
These are great tips. I may steal them for ME!
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