Perhaps no words other than “we lost” – can strike more sadness in a youth sports parent’s heart than these: “You’re snack parent next time.”
Of course, you want to offer snacks that kids will like. But they also can’t cost too much, be too much fuss or likely to spoil before the last buzzer sounds.
And wouldn’t it be great if they also had the kind of nutrition that kids engaged in active athleticism actually need?
Sue Delagrange can help.
A local registered dietitian, she’s certified in sports nutrition and works with middle-school athletes to pro-hopefuls with several area organizations.
And she says out with the cupcakes, the cookies, the brownies, the candy, the sports drinks, the Pop Tarts – and in with something heavy on good carbs, a bit of protein, not much fat and some refreshing hydration.
“That’s my motto,” she says.
Delagrange says one of her motto-meeting team snacks is low-fat chocolate milk, which she calls “one of the best things for (post-workout) recovery.”
Another favorite is PB&J on whole grain bread – a whole sandwich for high-schoolers and a half for younger kids.
Another is a piece of fruit and an ounce or so of low-fat cheese with plain ol’ water. “If they’re going to perform at their best, they need to eat like a competitive person and not like a teenager,” she quips.
Cory Eberhard, a pastor who directs Upward Youth Sports programs for The Chapel in Fort Wayne, says parents should check with a coach before choosing snacks.
Some children might have a nut allergy that could be life-threatening or be lactose intolerant, which rules out milk products, he says.
“We don’t have specific guidelines (for snacks),” he says. “But some parents do bring prepackaged things for that reason or sanitary purposes.”
Parents shouldn’t feel the need to bring expensive sports drinks for post-game snacks in most cases, says Carl Thomas, director of performance for Athletes with Purpose youth sports program in Fort Wayne.
Drinks such as Gatorade are only appropriate after exercising for an hour straight, he says. And skip caffeine-laden pop or energy drinks, as well as juice or juice-flavored drinks with added sugar. “Drink water,” he says.
Thomas says not to go overboard on snack portions. All most kids need is something to keep up their energy level for an hour or two until their next meal. “A piece of fruit or two is plenty,” he says.