A personal friend of mine, known to some of you as Workout Mommy, shared a letter she found about bringing healthier snacks to the kids sporting events and of course I jumped at the opportunity to make a positive change. We have played so many sports in this family, and we have been the snack family many, many times. Often our kids (players and siblings) are sent home after a 30- 40 minute game, at 9:45 am, with a bag of Oreos and a juice box or sport drink of some sort. This always seems to set the tone for my kids- once they have something like that, it is all they want for the rest of the day. I do not have those things in my house, so I end up seeing like the bad guy to them. This season I am, again, the coach and team mom of Meredith’s soccer team. I quickly mentioned this idea at the first practice, and left no time for anyone to give an opinion, I just went on to the next topic. Today I sent out an email about the first game this coming weekend and the snack policy.
This is the text of the letter I sent, it was from the blog Real Mom Nutrition, which is a great place to visit! (the entire blog post, including a slideshow of ideas) can be found here (Soccer Snacktivism Handbook)
One last thing- a big thanks to Sally at Real Mom Nutrition for writing the letter and providing the info, and allowing it to be used!
As for snacks, I have a great idea: Remember the orange slices we all ate on the sidelines when we were kids? Let’s bring back them back! We want our kids to play sports so they move their bodies, burn off energy, and be strong–so let’s give them a snack that keeps them healthy.
Here’s what I am asking of you: Every child brings a water bottle, and parents take turns bringing fruit for after the game. This fruit-only snack policy benefits everyone because there’s less cost (when it’s your turn to bring snacks, you are only in charge of bringing fruit, no drinks) and less mess (no packages to pick up, no juice pouches in landfills). It also means they’ll be hungry for lunch or dinner afterward.
Feel free to bring any fresh fruit you’d like (please wash it so it’s ready to grab and eat). You can also bring small boxes of raisins (but please do not bring fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks, since those are mostly added sugar).
Some ideas: Orange slices, bananas, apples, peaches, pears, watermelon slices, grapes (cut into small bunches), berries or melon balls/chunks in paper cups.
If you don’t think your child will eat fruit or feel he needs something more after the game, please bring your own snack and give it to your child when you’re away from the field.
Remember to bring a full bottle of water to each game for your child. Please do not bring flavored water pouches or juice boxes for players. The best thing for kids to drink before, during, and after sports is regular water, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The electrolytes lost during sweat can easily be replaced at their next meal.
With this snack policy, our team can set an example for the whole league. We all care about our kids and want the best for them, so let’s do something great for their health!
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this snack policy. I have included some FAQ and answers about the fruit & water idea below.
Fresh fruit has a little bit of carbohydrates for energy and lots of water for hydration. And kids simply need more of it: 75% of 6-11 year olds don’t get enough fruit. And on any given day, 25% of toddlers and preschoolers don’t eat a single bite of it.
What if I don’t have time to wash and cut up fruit?
Grab a bunch of bananas. It takes the same amount of time to grab those as it does to grab a few boxes of gummy fruit snacks. They’re cheaper, too.
What about sports drinks? Don’t kids need those after exercising?
Actually, no. Sports drinks are designed for endurance athletes. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that most kids need only water to hydrate during and after sports. Those drinks just add a lot of extra calories (plus sugar and dyes). Kids can replenish any lost electrolytes at the next meal or snack.
But our kids are burning off a ton of calories on the soccer field, aren’t they?
Kids burn off far fewer calories in team sports than we think. According to a recent study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the average 8 year old burns only 150 calories in an hour of sports—but the typical after-game snack has 300- 500 calories.
Don’t kids deserve a treat every once in a while?
The problem is that kids get treats at every turn: School, daycare, preschool, parties. Treats are not the exception anymore; they’ve become the rule. Toddlers and preschoolers get 16 teaspoons of added sugar every day, and 6-11 year olds get 24 teaspoons. One in three children is overweight or obese today. (That’s triple the rate from when we were kids.)
My child won’t eat fruit. Why don’t’ you just bring some fruit for your kid?
The simple fact is that most kids are not going to choose fruit over a Fruit Roll-Up if given the chance. And don’t underestimate your child: You’d be surprised at the effect that positive peer pressure has on kids. They’re more likely to eat something new or different if they see their friends chowing down on it too. But if you’d prefer that your child have something else, give it to them in the car on the way home.