Mom’s Like Me Segment with Judy Caplan, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Editor for Washington FAMILY Magazine
Sport Snacks – Make Them Healthy
Outdoor sports are getting ready for the end of the year tournaments. The weather is getting warmer and the humidity is rising. Before you run out to Costco to buy the standard fare, you might ask yourself, “Are snacks really necessary after a team practice or a game?”
Here are some tips to snack on:
1. Keep Kids Hydrated
Children always need to drink fluids when they are exercising, especially if the weather is warm. Plain water is always best for hydration. If you buy bottled water or have your own plastic water bottle, be sure to avoid BPA plastics and those labeled 3, 6, or 7. The numbers are on the bottom of the bottles.
2. When Are Sports Drinks Necessary?
Sport drinks are high in calories and sugar and are not necessary. That is not to say they should never be used, especially if your child is exceedingly active, sweats excessively, or has a diet low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The main function of sports drinks is to supply electrolytes. The main problem with sports drinks is the amount of calories. A 12 oz. bottle of Gatorade has 310 calories practically a meal’s worth. If you buy Gatorade, G-2 is a much better lower calorie version.
3. Consider the Calorie Expenditure
You need to consider the calorie expenditure during your child’s practice and games. If he or she is running long distances, doing intense short sprints, is a major sweater, and does not have a weight problem then sports drinks are probably fine even though not necessary. However, one bottle is usually enough to replenish lost electrolytes, and after that he or she should move on to water.
4. Nutrient Content of Packaged Snacks
Same considerations go for packaged, refined starchy snacks. It is not only the calories in the snacks that matter but the quality of the nutrition in the snack. 100 calorie packs will control calories but your child is still ingesting refined flour, refined sugar, Tran’s fats, and too much sodium.
5. Fruit, Veggies, Whole Grains, and Nuts
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are loaded with minerals and electrolytes. Try to increase their intake of these magnesium and potassium rich foods during the week, not just on practice or game days.
WARNING: Know that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has just found that one in five teens now has elevated cholesterol levels. Exercise helps keep cholesterol low. Maybe teaching our kids not to eat junk during and after sports is as important as teaching them not to drink and drive. It may save their lives down the road.