It can be difficult and challenging for parents to get their children to eat the right foods at the right times especially if they are very active and in need of extra energy.
Before playing sport in the afternoon, it is essential that children eat an easily-digestible meal at least 30 minutes before playing and that provides a source of both carbohydrates and protein.
Some examples of suitable after-school before-soccer meals include:
- Pasta salad
- Grilled chicken and salad in a pita bread
- Raw chopped vegetables (e.g. cucumber, red pepper, baby tomatoes) with hummus, avocado and cottage cheese as a dip, with some whole-wheat crackers or provitas
- Tuna salad
- Feta and couscous salad
Assuming your child has eaten a small meal or snack before exercising, water should be sufficient during sports. If your child feels they desperately need to eat during their sports session, fresh fruit is ideal as it provides hydration and natural fruit sugars to fuel their training.
After sports, it is extremely important that they have a snack, which allows their bodies to refuel and recover and replenish their nutrients. Examples of suitable snacks include:
- 200 – 300ml (1 cup) fruit smoothie/milkshake
- 250ml (1 cup) low-fat fruit yogurt or 350ml (1½ cups) drinking yogurt
- 200ml (1 cup) drinking yogurt + low-fat energy bar
- Small handful of lean biltong + low-fat energy bar or dried fruit bar
- Sandwich with low-fat cheese/cottage cheese/lean cold meat/chicken + 1 fruit
- Bowl of cereal with low-fat or fat-free milk
- 30g lean beef biltong + 10 jelly babies + water
- 2 small packets pretzels or 6 rice cakes + 30g lean beef biltong/low-fat cheese
Unfortunately, it is also extremely possible that after sports are done, your child will beg you to take him/her to the nearest fast food outlet for some deep-fried treats that will not do their bodies any good. If that is the case, here are some alternatives for the fast food bites they are craving:
Table 1: Fast-food alternatives
|Instead of eating…||You could eat…|
|Fried Chicken||Grilled chicken breast (cooked in tinned tomato and onion mix as a sauce). Grilling take away outlets are usually quite good fast food options, as they flame-grill their chicken, and thus it is usually lower in fat.|
|Hamburger and chips||Grilled ostrich patty OR chicken burger patty OR a steak burger in a seed roll, with salad and oven-baked chips|
|Pasta in cream sauce||Pasta with bolognaise sauce (made with extra-lean mince), OR a baked potato with a low-fat cheese, meat, chicken, tuna, tomato or mushroom sauce (made without cream)|
|Lamb Schwarma||Grilled chicken breast, or lean beef steak, cut into strips and served in a pita or wrap with salad vegetables, OR a chicken kebab with rice and vegetables.|
|Pizza with cheese and salami||Thin crust pizza, with less cheese and extra vegetables|
Increase your child’s fruit and vegetable intake
Many parents struggle to get their children to eat enough fruits and veggies. Here are some tricks and tips to get them munching.
- Chop up a piece of fruit into breakfast cereal
- Make a fruit smoothie at breakfast (made with yoghurt and fresh fruit)
- Have fruit as a quick and convenient snack between meals, or as a dessert after meals.
- Snack on raw vegetables with hummus, low-fat cottage, or mashed avocado as a dip.
- Use vegetables in stirfries, soups, salads, stews and even vegetable juices.
- Put salad onto sandwiches to increase the fibre of the sandwich and make it more filling.
- Try out new and exotic fruits and vegetables that become available to prevent becoming bored with eating the same ones day in and day out.
By Lila Bruk, Registered Dietician (www.lilabruk.co.za)