By Christy Campbell
Remember the days when the team snack mom brought a giant container filled with cut up oranges for half time? Soccer fields everywhere swarmed with bumblebees searching for sticky rinds left behind. Kids bit into the citrus triangle slices and smiled goofy distended orange smiles at their friends. Sticky little fingers returned to the second half or next inning with a little boost of energy, and the game continued. Oranges still find their way to a few sports fields, but is seems like this nutritious half-time snack is a thing of the past.
Sadly, fruit and water have been replaced by sugary sports drinks and convenient processed snack packs. It is common to see small children devour a bag of cookie chips and guzzle a brightly colored sports drink or juice box to get “energy” for the rest of the game. For many well-meaning parents, providing snacks for sports games can be confusing. Sports drinks are heavily marketed as the right choice for hydration and electrolytes. But along with electrolytes, sports drinks are loaded with added sugar, artificial colors and additives.
Many youth struggle with obesity, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, added sugar in sports drinks and sports waters contribute to weight gain. In addition to the added calories, sports drinks are also three times as bad for teeth as soda.
Sports are a perfect time to teach kids to be active and develop healthy bodies, and are also a perfect time to learn about healthy snacks and hydration. There are many great snack options for active bodies. Here are a few of my favorites:
Kiwi or grapes
Unsweetened applesauce squeeze packs
Small Turkey or ham sandwiches
Instead of Gatorade or vitamin water, encourage kids to drink regular water or coconut water. According to the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, water is sufficient for rehydration for sports activities under 1 hour.
The truth of the matter is, healthy snacks are easier said than done. It’s hard to be the mom to follow up Oreos and Gatorade, with oranges and bottled water. Having the information isn’t always enough to put it into action. So I want to give you a critical action step so you can be part of the solution all season long!
At the beginning of this fall’s sports season make a SNACK PACT! A Snack Pact means that all the parents on the team commit to healthy snacks and drinks throughout the season.
Here is how you do it.
1. Introduce the topic by focusing on the benefits of healthy snacks and hydration. Remember, a lot of parents have no idea sports drinks and cheese crackers aren’t the best choice. So this is an opportunity for everyone to learn the benefits of healthy snacks.
2. Decide on a list of healthy snacks that work for your team. Distribute this list on the first practice.
3. When distributing the snacks to kids, tell them about the vitamins and great nutrition found in fruit. Tell them that their bodies are made mostly of water and these are the best choices to have energy throughout their game. Emphasize the positives of good choices rather than demonizing the foods you are no longer bringing.
4. Offer a simple alternative. If the team parents are hesitant or uncertain, offer to collect money from each family and have one person take the lead for all the game snacks.
Good habits start early. Leading the way with a Snack Pact in Jackson area can make a big difference because it can be contagious! Snap some pics of your team enjoying their oranges and water and share it on social media. Add #Snackpact and explain why you are committed to improving the quality of sports snacks for your kids.
Sources for reference:
Christy Campbell is a NCI Certified Nutrition Coach, CrossFit Level 2 Coach and USAW Advanced Sports Performance Coach. She is a Navy veteran, Navy spouse and mom of two boys. Read about Christy’s own transformation and weight loss journey at www.pivotalfocuscoach.com.