All kids need a healthy and balanced diet, but for active kids, it’s especially important to ensure they’re getting the right fuel their body needs to be on top of their game. Whether playing soccer or football, dancing or karate, swimming or track and field, the right kind of food and beverages can help your child become a better athlete.
Offering the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are essential. If you’re trying to nurture an active kid, here are some tips to help them train like a pro…
Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Kids
Two important nutrients for kids—especially athletes are calcium and iron. Calcium helps to build strong bones, which can help prevent breaks during heavy strain of physical activity. Dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt are an excellent source of calcium, but another good source is dark, green leafy vegetables.
Iron can be found in meat, fortified cereals and beans. Without iron, kids get tired more easily. Iron is especially important of young adolescent girls who have gotten their periods because they lose iron every month through their menstrual cycle.
Provide a balanced but tasty breakfast:
It’s true what they say, breakfast is the most important meal of day, and in the case of active children it will help kick-start their metabolism and sustain them for the first part of the day.
Try to ensure the breakfast includes a mix of quality low-GI carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats, including omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Omega-3 has been linked to improved concentration, thinking and learning, and boosts eye and heart health, all of which are vital for a growing child.
Quick and easy ideas:
- Steel cut oats with cinnamon, flaked almonds and berries, banana or apple
- An omelette with spinach, cheese and tomato on low-GI toast
- A fruit smoothie blended with plain yoghurt and raw almonds or whey protein
- Salmon, a poached egg and avocado on low-GI toast
Pack healthy lunchbox snacks to sustain energy
A busy morning of playing and learning can burn off one’s breakfast pretty quickly. Avoid convenient but unhealthy lunchbox snacks like chips, chocolates and sweets, and instead pack these easy but healthy alternatives:
- Boiled eggs
- Chopped carrots and cucumber, rosa tomatoes with hummus or homemade guacamole
- Fresh fruit
- Ostrich biltong
- Nuts and seed mixes (or bars)
- Wholewheat wraps with lean meat cuts like chicken or turkey
Portable Nutritious Snack
A busy schedule of games, practices and lessons can often mean missing sit down meals at home. Avoid the fast food trap by preparing portable and healthy snacks to fuel your pint-sized athlete. Because kids are still growing, a balanced diet is essential. Do not replace healthy meals and snacks with protein bars and shakes.
Hard boiled eggs, veggies and hummus, nuts, fresh fruit, and lean meats like chicken or whole grain breads are all great options. You can pack an insulated lunch bag to keep sandwiches fresh for a pre-game snack. If you’re going to offer your kids a snack before a game or practice, make sure it’s 2-hours prior. If you child eats right before exercising, their bodies will burn energy digesting food instead of fueling the activity.
Encourage your child to drink more water
Despite what many of us think, active children do not actually need sugar-filled energy drinks. Instead ensure your child stays hydrated with sufficient water throughout the day.
Try to get them into the habit of drinking water by getting them a water bottle they like and limit sugary and fizzy drinks to an absolute minimum.
Health Hack: If your child doesn’t enjoy drinking plain water, try infusing water with fresh strawberries, lemon or kiwi for added flavour. Iced rooibos tea is another great option.
Don’t ditch the dairy
Calcium helps growing bones become stronger and develop properly. Ensure your child gets a daily dose of dairy through yoghurt, milk or cheese.
You can add fruit smoothies, cheese sandwiches, cereals with low-fat milk and a glass of milk before bed.
Encourage snacking before that big match
If your child has a long afternoon of sports ahead, ensure they have enough energy to sustain them with healthy pre- and post-exercise snacks.
A healthy snack an hour or two before exercise comprised of low-GI carbohydrates such as low-GI cereal with milk and fruit; yogurt and a banana; or a whole-wheat bread sandwich, can help give them the energy they need to get through the afternoon.
If they finish their sports a few hours before supper, give them another healthy snack to sustain them till suppertime with lean quality protein such as egg, dairy or chicken to help their bodies recover.
Include a daily multivitamin
Even if your child eats a healthy, balanced diet, soil quality and farming methods can affect the amount of vitamins our food actually contains.
Vitamin deficiencies can affect all aspects of your child’s health. Find a quality multivitamin which contains sufficient quantities of the essential vitamins and minerals that fit your particular child’s needs.
GREEN 33, a daily greens supplement complex is the result of advances in extraction and preparation technology that allows the significant capture of bio-availability of the most important daily green vegetables, fruits and grains required for optimum health.