Dr. Kantor recently answered questions from She Knows about healthy foods and drinks for children who play sports. This is a preview to an article that will be featured on their blog. Check back for the full article.
It is important to scale the actual activity of kids who are “playing” outside. Sometimes parents overestimate the actual energy expended and over compensate calories, sugar and sodium in the meals and snacks surrounding the activity. An event that last 90 minutes or less truly only requires plain water as means to stay hydrated, giving sports drinks loaded with excessive sodium and sugar can actually hinder the performance of the child. Instead of traditional sports drinks make your own if they are participating in an event that is long and requires additional means of hydration. Coconut water or organic white grape juice with a pinch of sea salt is a great alternative.
Also, keep this in mind with post event meals, pizza, pasta, bagels etc. can put weight on if the child is actually consuming more then they burned during their activity. The best way to determine if you are making proper choices for snacks, and meals surrounding activity, is whether or not your child is maintaining optimal weight.
All meals and snacks should be balanced with protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Examples include:
- Yogurt with fruit and chopped nuts
- Apple slices and 1-2 oz high quality cheese
- Peanut butter and jelly on gluten free/Ezekiel bread
- Hummus and chopped veggies and rice crackers
- Fresh guacamole with corn chips and chopped vegetables
- Turkey sandwich with spinach, tomato, cheese on gluten free/Ezekiel bread
For sports that require a lot of running, such as basketball, what type of snacks will give them the energy they need?
See snack list below….
What snacks are best for endurance?
Endurance snacks are typically a little higher in carbohydrates, potassium and sodium to ensure that the electrolytes stay within normal ranges during prolong activity like running, swimming, cycling, or a long intense game or match. Here are some examples:
- Trail mix with white grape juice or coconut water (if it is a long event sprinkle sea salt in the juice or coconut water)
- Banana smeared with almond, sunflower or peanut butter
- Plain oatmeal with raisins, banana, honey and chopped nuts or nut butter
- Smoothie: 1-2 c grape juice or coconut water, 1 c frozen or fresh berries, ½-1 banana, and ½ – 1 c Greek yogurt
- Bagel with nut butter, honey, and banana
What is the best way for kids to stay hydrated?
Both adults and children should aim to drink about ½ of their body weight in ounces of plain water per day. Avoid artificially sweetened “water” drinks, since some of the sweeteners have been linked to cancer and even diabetes. If your child does not like plain water, water down juice until you eventually can give them plain water or sweeten with fresh fruit like lemons, limes, or berries. Avoid processed sports drinks too; they are loaded with excessive amounts of sugar and sodium, making them as unhealthy as soda drinks. Sports drinks were designed for endurance athletes, they are only necessary for those who are active for several hours in a row, an occasional long game or match in the hot sun would be the only appropriate time to give your child a sport drink.
Look out for signs of dehydration especially if you are out in the hot sun for a long period of time.
– Dizzy and confused
– Child complaining of dry mouth and lips
– Dark brown or yellow urine with foul odor
– Child seems abnormally tired
Combat dehydration by making sure that your child drinks 1-2 cups of water with each meal and sips on water throughout practices, meets, or play sessions.
Dr. Kantor’s greatly anticipated new children’s book, The Green Box League of Nutritious Justice, is now available. Be sure to order this highly reviewed book, filled with healthy living tips for the whole family. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.