Refuel with the right food

A fueled body is a healthy and happy body.

Creating a culture of health and wellness at youth sporting events may be an important way to help parents and children eat well, foster healthier social environments and cultivate social norms around healthier choices and behaviors. This may not be easy or popular – at first!

To get buy in from parents and youth, start small. Gradual changes may be the first stepping stone to improving the nutritional value of the snacks that parents may contribute after or during a sporting event. These may include items such as:

  • Make water the default beverage unless activity exceeds one hour in length or extreme heat conditions.
  • Offering at least one fruit and/or vegetable.
  • Use whole grains whenever possible (100 percent whole grain as the first ingredient).

A large variety of packaged snacks line the shelves of stores today and most of them are high in sugar, fat and lack nutritional value. Snacks need to be easy, quick and handy, but convenience doesn’t mean you can’t sneak some better-for-you options into your child’s sports season.

Examples from Michigan State University Extension of snack foods that can be offered after a sporting event may include:

  • Fresh fruit or squeezable no-sugar added applesauce
  • Fruit made into kabobs or frozen pops
  • Dried fruit, including leathers or rolls made with 100 percent fruit
  • Granola bars (check the nutrition label as some may contain high amounts of calories, fat, and sugar)
  • Crackers or bagels: Opt for whole-grain versions if you can; top with peanut butter, cheese or low-fat cream cheese
  • Yogurt or frozen yogurt tubes
  • String cheese
  • Pretzels
  • Trail mix (with dried fruit instead of candy; beware nut allergies)
  • Chocolate milk in place of sports drinks
  • Mini sandwiches made with whole grain bread

It doesn’t matter if your child athlete is age 3 or 16, at some point during the season; it’s going to be your turn to bring a snack. When it is your turn, think delicious and nutritious!

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