Vitamins and Minerals
Your child needs a variety of vitamins and minerals. Brightly coloured foods
such as spinach, carrots, squash, and peppers tend to be packed with them.
Calcium and Iron
It's especially important your child gets plenty of calcium and iron.
Calcium helps your child build healthy bones which are important,
especially if your child breaks a bone or gets a stress fracture.
Calcium-rich foods include:
dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and cheese, as well as leafy
green vegetables, such as broccoli.
Iron helps carry oxygen to the different body parts that need it.
Iron-rich foods include:
red meat, chicken, tuna, salmon, eggs, dried fruits, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains.
Protein can help build your child's muscles (along with regular training and exercise).
But there's no need to overload on protein because too much
of it can lead to dehydration and calcium loss.
Protein-rich foods include:
fish, lean red meat and poultry, dairy products,
nuts (beware allergies), soy products, and peanut butter (allergies again)
Carbohydrates provide energy for the body.
Some diet plans have urged weight-conscious adults to steer clear of carbohydrates or carbs as they're often called. But for a young athlete, carbohydrates are an important source of fuel.
There's no need for your child to do any carb loading or eat a lot of carbs in advance of a big game, but without some of these foods in your child's diet, he or she will be running on empty.
When you're choosing carbohydrates, look for whole-grain foods that are less processed and high in fibre.
Things like pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread, and cereal are ideal.
(Fibre helps lower cholesterol and may help prevent diabetes and heart disease).
It's a good idea to pack your child's meals with natural foods as much as possible. Natural foods such as whole-wheat breads and baked potatoes are more wholesome choices than heavily processed foods, like white breads and crisps.
Usually the less processed the food, the more nutritious it is.
Choose products with ingredients such as whole wheat or oats rather than white flour.
Encourage your child to pick up a piece of fruit, rather than a fruit drink, which may have added sugar. Remember, if your child is eating healthy, well-balanced meals and snacks, they are probably getting the nutrients that he or she needs to perform well in sports.
It's important for young athletes to drink plenty of fluid to avoid heat illness and dehydration, which can zap a child's strength, energy, and coordination and lead to other health problems.
It's a good idea for your child to drink water or other fluids throughout the day, but especially before, during, and after periods of extended physical activity.
It is recommend that kids drink approximately 1 cup (240 millilitres) of water or fluid every 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity. Shorter games may not require drinking during the activity, but it's important to drink water after the game or event to restore whatever fluid your child lost through sweat during the event.
Children often don't recognize or respond to feelings of thirst, so it's a good idea to encourage your child to drink before thirst sets in.
Although many sports drinks are available, usually plain water is sufficient to keep these young athletes hydrated. If your child wants juice, it's a good idea to mix it with water to reduce the concentration of sugar.
A good old fashioned glass of Robinsons barley water should fulfil all their needs...Well, its my favourite, anyway.
Sports drinks are designed to provide energy (sugar) and replace electrolytes such as sodium and potassium that athletes lose in sweat.
But your child's body typically has enough carbohydrates to serve as energy for up to 90 minutes of exercise. And in most cases, any lost electrolytes can be replenished by a good meal after the activity.
Endurance sports such as long-distance running and biking or high-intensity exercise such as football, basketball, or hockey, require your child to replenish his or her body throughout the event. This is because the body can use the sugar immediately as energy to make up for the depleted energy stores in the body.
However, too much sugar can upset the stomach.
So.. lets get into the habit of allowing our children to quench their thirst with water, or watered down juice.
Also, a homemade litre of juice/water costs maybe 10p.
Whilst a typical Sports drink can cost 10-15 times that.
Hey, its cost effective to be healthy.. Wonderful
Day of the game/event
It's important for your child to eat well on game days, but make sure your young athlete eats at least 2 hours before the game/event itself.
(early enough to digest the food before kick-off/start time).
The meal itself should not be very different from what your child has been eating throughout training. It should have plenty of carbohydrates and protein and be low in fat. (because fat is harder to digest and can cause an upset stomach). After the game/event, it's a good idea to make sure your child gets a well-balanced meal. Your child's body will be rebuilding muscle tissue, and restoring carbohydrates and fluids, for up to 24 hours afterwards, so it's important that your child get plenty of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in the post game hours.
Thanks for reading this.
Article date: 25 July 2010