It's your turn for snacks; what to bring?
So you're on the list.
The soccer (or baseball, or softball, or other youth sports) snacks list.
What should you bring?
Before we try to answer that question, let's present the main point offered by Wes Emmert, Sports and Athletic Performance Coordinator at Olmsted Medical Group's Sports Medicine and Athletic Performance Facility.
"Drink fluids, before, during, and after games, especially on hot days."
He adds that "research has shown that chocolate milk consumed within 20 to 30 minutes following physical exertion is a good food source for recovery." As for halftime, simple water is fine.
Washington dietician Brooke Douglas adds that unless kids are endurance athletes – "And most kids are not," she added – sports drinks aren't necessary. She said the sugar in the drinks can lead to muscle fatigue and an upset stomach. What does she recommend for hydration? "Good, old fashioned water."
She said most kids will replace the electrolytes they lose working out when they eat their next meal. She said sports drinks can be beneficial for events that last two hours or longer.
OK, so regarding snacks?
"The traditional oranges at halftime are still a good food," Emmert said. "It's high in fluid and carbohydrates and most kids enjoy them. But understand that those orange calories will not aid in the second half of a normal game."
He adds that he's "not sure where the tradition of oranges originated, why not watermelon or cantaloupe, or apples?"
Dietitian Alysa Bajenaru on inspiredrd.com has a list of suggestions that include apples:
1. Apple slices (squeeze lemon or lime juice over slices to keep from browning)
2. Healthy trail mix (make your own and pre-portion into snack size bags)
3. Frozen fruit (tasty and refreshing, mix frozen grapes and berries and keep in the cooler until the game is over)
4. Organic yogurt tubes (freeze the day before and let thaw in a cooler during the game)
5. Applesauce squeezers (look for the no-sugar added brands)
6. Orange slices (a soccer tradition)
7. Raisin boxes
8. String cheese
10. Grapes and Carrots (package up like a butterfly using a snack sized bag and a clothespin)
Looking at food in a larger context, Emmert says, "Athletes should have eaten three to five hours prior to game time. They should not attempt to compete on a full stomach for various reasons. They should even go into a competition slightly hungry.
"The pregame can range from a multiple of food sources, in general, light foods, high in carbohydrates, and/or what the athlete feels 'safe' eating. Again, the pregame meal will have little effect on the athletes' performance in the game on that day."
For the older athlete — especially when preparing for long days of tournament play — Emmert notes that "the energy calories that these athletes are using came from their meals the day before. Carbohydrates are the optimum energy source for activity followed by fats, then lastly, proteins.
"It also depends on the sport or activity, i.e. aerobic — long intervals of activity, running — or anaerobic — periods of sprints followed by jogging or rest, hockey football."
Speaking of meals, experts say it's perfectly fine for the young player to skip the postgame snack altogether if lunch time is nearly at hand.
If the snack the parents on the list for that day is something like chips and sugar-laden juice in a box, that might be a particularly good idea.
As you consider healthier snacks when it's your turn, experts have this to say:
• Kids are probably more receptive to healthy snacks than you think.
• We shouldn't send mixed messages — "Way to get out there and exercise, now here's some sugar and empty calories."
• After doing a healthy activity, don't kids deserve a treat? The problem with that thinking is that junk and processed foods are facing kids everywhere they turn. Unhealthful sports treats are only adding to that barrage.