What children eat is an area of concern for most parents. This is mainly because children lead such active lives and often do not have time or inclination to eat elaborate meals that parents would like them to. Often, frustrated parents drive themselves crazy thinking of their children’s nutritional needs and how to make them healthy yet tasty.
One of the times that child needs energy rich and activity inducing foods is before playtime or before sports. Let us take a look at good food choices for our little sportsmen.
Carbohydrates: The Energy Boosters
Whether training early in the morning or playing sports after school, the type of meal your child eats before exercise should be high in carbohydrates and provide fluids. Carbohydrate rich food choices before exercise provide a fuel boost to working muscles. This will help your child perform at their best without tiring too soon. This type of meal (focusing on pasta, rice, breads and cereals) will be digested and absorbed faster than a meal high in protein and/or fat, and will therefore serve as a ready source of energy for the muscles. Ready-to-eat carbohydrate foods that can be easily carried in a sports bag and are convenient after-school snacks, include fresh and dried fruit, ensure that you pack hard fruits like apples or pears which can travel easily. Muesli or granola bars are another good choice which provide an instant energy burst and of course, sandwiches, but you should take care to ensure that the fillings are not soggy. Remember to ensure that these foods are packed well and are in no danger of getting squished, as the last thing on your child’s mind would be taking care of his bag.
Hydrate With Fluids
Some children will enjoy a liquid meal supplement like a milkshake or fruit smoothies. This is a good choice if your child dislikes having anything heavy in their stomach, especially before an important competition when nerves set in!
Encourage and remind your child to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise. Fluid needs will be increased during intense exercise and in hot weather. Children are more likely to overheat from strenuous activity than adults. As a result, they’re at a greater risk of dehydration. If your child says "I am thirsty" – they may already be slightly dehydrated. Being well hydrated is important before they play sport. Always have water or other refreshing drinks such as sports drinks available and invest in a sturdy drink bottle for training. Nimbupani made with lemon juice, salt and sugar is a good choice to keep handy as well. It has a refreshing taste and easily replenishes the lost salts.
Active children need energy dense foods and beverages before intense, energy draining sports and physical activity. With proper nutrition your little sport star can stay energetic and healthy throughout and enjoy the best years of growing up.