Big A started soccer back in September and the after game snack frenzy has begun. The coach told all of the parents, who get assigned snack duty, to keep the snacks healthy. But that hasn’t stopped the cookies, cupcakes and other not-so-nutritious fare from being chosen as snacks.
I recently went to an educational session at the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo on how to feed active kids. The experts offered up advice on what constitutes a good post-game snack, so I just had to share.
The why behind it
I think it’s important to consider the making of a good post-game snack from a physiological point of view. First off, these recommendations are for children who work hard for a period of time. With soccer, Big A runs almost the entire hour so I consider that high activity — maybe not the same as an endurance athlete but hard work for a 5 year old!
Most after game snacks should be eaten 30 minutes after game time and the goal is to help tired muscles recover. Children who stay active most of the game (and practice) are likely to have glycogen stores (carbs stored in muscles used for energy) that are somewhat depleted — and it’s a good idea to replace them.
So carbohydrate-rich snacks are good choices along with a little protein is to aid muscle repair and stimulate new tissue.
Here are 5 snacks that fit the bill:
1. Bagels or graham crackers with peanut butter
2. Fruit (great for young kids that may not be working as hard)
3. Trail mix
4. Animal crackers/granola bars
5. Fruit smoothies/100% juice packs/low fat yogurt sticks
Timing matters too. If the game is close to mealtime, like lunch or dinner, some juice or fruit is perfect followed by a balanced meal. A bigger snack is a good idea when the main meal is a couple hours away.
Here’s my take on it: While there’s a time and a place for treats like cookies and cupcakes, after games isn’t one of them. These items are too high in fat and not ideal for recovery. They also teach kids to associate such foods (and expect them!) after-game time which is not so smart.
What kind of snacks are your kids getting post-game time? Has this been an issue for you?