Fuelling the kids for pre and post game nutrition.

Very well put article written by a friend of mine at www.enrichcoaching.com.au

I often find myself struggling with guilt and frustration as I watch the kids play sport on the weekend, I stand by as they are being fed lollies after the game, sports drink during and after the game, cans of fizzy drink… the list goes on.

I struggle with my conscience, as someone that works in the health and wellness industry, my belief that food is our fuel; and that food is not fuel. The old adage “it is only now and then” is often used but….does that make it OK?

To set the record straight, I am all for a treat ‘now and then’… but it is to be quality, nutritious ‘now and then’!

When we are asking little growing bodies to run hard, perform both physically and mentally for approximately an hour, ask yourself: shouldn’t we be fuelling these strong, agile bodies and minds for maximum results and feeding the muscles for growth and recovery?

The habit of rewarding the children with a couple of lollies and a bottle of sports drink after a game is just giving them a heavy dose of sugar and colouring.

What is this going to do those precious bodies?
They are going to get a rush of energy and then crash and burn.

How has this food healed their bodies?
Well, it hasn’t – at all!

Just to put it into perspective:

2 lolly snakes = 4 teaspoons of sugar
1 bottle of a popular sports drink = 12 teaspoons of sugar
We highly recommend watching ‘That Sugar Movie’ with your kids – it takes a fun and very informative look at sugar. Another great idea is to empower your kids by teaching them how to read the labels on food. Ask them to show their knowledge:

How much sugar is in that food?
How many teaspoons is that in a packet? (4g = one teaspoon)
How much of that packet is actually sugar?
I know you can get sugar free varieties; but ask yourself – what are they replacing the sugar with? What are they using to make the drink coloured?

Now that we have touched on the bad, let’s have look at some great kid’s nutrition options to prepare their bodies for their games and also help repair kids’ bodies and minds after the game.

Pre-game kid’s nutrition ideas

Let’s start by getting these little machines fuelled and ready to perform!

If you have 2-3 hours before the game:

Wholemeal crumpet with peanut butter; good quality jam (preferably homemade); honey with a banana milkshake.
Low sugar or home-made baked beans and poached egg on wholemeal toast
Ham and cheese toasted sandwich followed by a banana
Fruit Salad with full fat yogurt (not flavoured) with honey and natural muesli (see my granola recipe here).
If you have less time before the game, try these ideas:

Smoothie – milk of choice, banana and or berries, 2 dates, 1 tablespoon of oats or muesli and 1 table of Cacao powder – blitz until all smooth and run (if the milk upsets them, replace with coconut water!)
Green Juice – For those that dare!!!! Coconut water, honey, kale or spinach leaves, carrot, cucumber, apple or fruit of choice and a 1 teaspoon of chia seeds – again blitz away and off you go.
These ideas are easy to digest, packed full of vitamins, minerals and natural sugars that can be broken down and shipped to the muscles. And kids love the taste!

During the game

Let’s skip the “sports drink” with 12 teaspoons of sugar! Here are some better nutritional choices for kids during the game:

Water with the smallest (and I mean smallest) pinch of Himalayan sea salt
Watered down juice – 1/3 fruit juice, 2/3 water
Coconut water – this is packed full of potassium
After the game

The game is over, those legs have run till they can run no more. It is time to re-feed – and that means do not go near the canteen! Be prepared.

Take some homemade bliss balls – easy, convenient and really yummy
Go home and make a smoothie
Take some chicken wraps with you that can be eaten on the way home

All these easy options will give your child the nutrients to refuel. Muscle recovery will be maximised and you will ensure that there is no ‘sugar-rush crash’ and that your child’s energy levels will be sustained.

I am a mum, a wife, a career woman and business owner. I am passionate about food and mindful of what I feed not only myself, but those I love. I believe that food is used to nourish the body, they mind and the soul.

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