Your young athlete needs nutritious food to keep them fueled for the physical demands of their active lifestyle. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for parents to cook meals that you would typically find on an elite athlete’s daily menu. However, some of the healthiest meals are easy to prepare.
The key is to plan your meals and keep your fridge and pantry stocked with the right ingredients. Here are seven nutritious yet quick meals and snacks to give your kid the energy they need:
Eggs are rich in vitamins and minerals that promote muscle growth. Omelets are a great way to get your kid to eat vegetables. Scramble two eggs and mix in finely chopped peppers, onions, spinach, and mushrooms. Sprinkle cheese on top.
Athletes need fiber and oatmeal is an excellent source. Unfortunately, getting your kid to eat oatmeal isn’t that easy as many find it bland. A great way to make oatmeal more attractive is by adding fresh fruits, honey, chocolate chips, or even marshmallows. Oatmeal is excellent with fresh strawberries, peaches, blueberries, and sliced bananas.
Salmon is considered a super food for athletes. Studies have shown how eating fish regularly can help prevent heart attacks later in life. Salmon is high in heart-healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. Salmon is incredibly easy to grill or cook, and it tastes great with brown rice and vegetables.
Peanut butter and Apple
Peanut butter spread on apple slices is quick and easy. Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein, and it’s rich in heart-healthy fats. So it is delicious and nutritious. It tastes great with apples.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomato Sauce
For the health of your family, make it a habit of ditching white pasta and opting for whole-wheat pasta instead. Whole wheat pasta is higher in iron and contains more fiber and vitamins than regular pasta.
Top the whole-wheat pasta with fresh tomato sauce. Tomatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Tomatoes are incredibly rich in lycopene and antioxidants. Your kid will love tomato sauce with Italian sausage, bacon cubes, or meatballs.
Turkey meat is lean and is full of vitamins and minerals. It is an excellent source of protein which your young athlete needs. It’s also much healthier than all-beef burgers. Encourage your kids to top it with cheese, crisp lettuce, and tomatoes.
Burrito bowls may seem complicated to make as they involve so many ingredients. However, it’s not complicated to put together at all. All you need to cook are brown rice and shredded chicken breasts. Add that to fresh chopped cilantro, black beans, mashed avocado, salsa, and Greek yogurt, and you’ve got a healthy but delicious burrito bowl your kid will love.
Ensuring your athlete is adequately fueled for the demands of sports is preparation. Know your child’s schedule and plan meals around their schedule. Be sure they eat healthy snacks to keep them from giving into cravings like junk food and sugary sweets.
Artificial turf is primarily a surface made of fake grass. Also referred to as artificial lawn, it is constructed to mimic the appearance of a real lawn. The “grass” is made of synthetic fibers or yarn which are typically polyethylene or polypropylene. There are high-quality artificial lawns that feel very much like real grass; they consist of many layers that include backing, cushioning, and even drainage layers and infill.
Because artificial turf is so low-maintenance; it has become more commonplace on athletic fields. But while they are durable and easier to maintain, many parents of young athletes are questioning their safety. To understand whether artificial turf is dangerous for our children, here are their pros and cons.
Artificial turf looks and feels so close to real grass that many cannot tell it’s fake. Synthetic grass or synthetic turf has gained popularity for residential and commercial properties because they achieve the look of lush greenery but don’t come with the costs of maintaining a real lawn. After all, they don’t need trimming, watering, or fertilizer. And you don’t have to worry about getting them sufficient sunlight.
Artificial turf is advertised as allergen-free because fake grass cannot trigger allergies. They are said to be made from non-toxic materials and therefore, cannot introduce harmful chemicals to your children. They’re even supposed to be safer for kids. They do not develop depressions or holes that can trip up children in the way that real grass and soil can. Remember that natural grass doesn’t drain well, causing holes and dips that create puddles when it rains, or the lawn is watered. Real grass can also be quite slippery because of the soil that turns into mud.
While artificial turf looks and feels like real grass, it indeed doesn’t smell like real grass. In fact, it emits an unpleasant odor on hot days. There have also been reports that kids’ shoes melt from the heat that artificial turfs give off. A report in the NY Daily News once reported artificial turf could heat up to 162 degrees even on a mild summer day.
To create the look and feel of real turf, artificial turf is also covered in crumb rubber which is supposed to resemble fake dirt. Crumb rubber is made up of recycled tires which can be toxic. Tires are made of both natural and synthetic rubber, along with carbon black which is a material made from petroleum. There are also chemical compounds which have been known to be carcinogens.
And while turf companies say there is no chance that kids will ingest the crumb rubber. However, children can easily touch the crumb rubber or drop a piece of fruit and pick it up. Players run and kick the turf, sending crumb-rubber particles flying. It can end up in their mouths, ears, and open cuts. And each time the ball hits the ground, it can send the crumbs up in the air, and our kids can inhale it.
While artificial grass itself is safe, the crumb rubber used to mimic dirt is not. Sometime in mid to late 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will conclude a peer-led study based on evidence to understand the potential health risks of crumb rubber better.
With flavors like Cool Blue, Blackout Berry, Lemon-Lime, Mountain Berry Blast, and Pink Lemonade, it’s no wonder young athletes are so attracted to them.
But before you let your child grab one, know that many of these sports drinks contain artificial flavors and food coloring to achieve those vibrant, almost neon colors. And the worst part is that some include nearly as much sugar as sodas.
Here is a breakdown of the most popular sports drink and how much sugar is loaded into them:
The average 20-ounce bottle = 34 grams of sugar
Introduced in 1965, Gatorade is undoubtedly the most well-known sports drink in the world, and accounts for 75% of market share in the sports drink category. Gatorade flavors include Glacier Freeze, Mango Extreme, and Citrus Cooler.
100ml bottle = 6 grams of sugar
Staminade is an electrolyte sports drink with flavors like Wild Berry Rush and Orange Blast.
SoBe Life Water
Some 20-ounce bottles = 23 – 25 grams of sugar
Life Water comes in 16 different flavors like Yumberry Pomegranate, Macintosh Apple Cherry, and Blackberry Dragonfruit.
Most 20-ounce bottles = 32 grams of sugar
Vitamin Water is a mineral water product distributed by Energy Brands introduced in 2000. Vitamin Water flavors include Açaí-Blueberry-Pomegranate and Pink Lemonade.
8-ounce bottle = 17 grams of sugar
The Bodyarmor sports drink is made of coconut water which experts say have too much potassium and is full of electrolytes. It’s advertised as all-natural and comes in flavors like Strawberry Banana, Blackout Berry, and Pineapple Coconut.
20-ounce bottle = 2 grams sugar
Propel Water is a brand of flavored bottled water advertised as being loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. Propel Water comes in flavors like Cranberry Lime, Peach, and Cherry Lime.
12-ounce bottle = 26 grams sugar
Sqwincher advertises itself as a hydration solution. It comes in an assortment of flavors such as Cool Citrus, Mixed Berry, and Strawberry Lemonade.
500ml bottle = 6.7 grams of sugar.
Pocari Sweat is a Japanese sports drink, manufactured by Otsuka Pharmaceutical. It is advertised as an “ion supply drink” and has a mild grapefruit flavor.
12-ounce bottle = 8 grams of sugar
The Aspire Fire, Ice, Storm, Rush and Rise sports drinks that are fortified with electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. They come in cherry-berry, lemon-lime, and grape flavors.
The 20-ounce bottle = 34 grams of sugar
Powerade is a sports drink manufactured and marketed by The Coca-Cola Company. Powerade flavors include Fruit Punch, Kiwi Pineapple, and Watermelon Strawberry Wave.
While many of these sports drinks are very popular and even endorsed by professional athletes, remember that the best way for your child to quench their thirst and remain adequately hydrated is to drink water. Water contains no sugar, no artificial flavoring, and no food coloring. These sports drinks may be fun to look at; however, consuming sugar after exercise can have adverse effects on their health.
All children need enough nutrients and minerals to meet their dietary needs. The best way for them to achieve this is to consume the right foods. If your child is a young athlete, you’ll need to ensure they’re eating the right foods that will keep them fueled enough to engage in physical activity. By eating healthy, they will stay more alert and feel energized to perform their best at practice and on game day.
Here are five nutrients and minerals to include in the young athletes’ meal plan:
Carbohydrates provide energy for the body. Without enough of it, kids will run on empty and tire quickly. When choosing carbs to feed your kid, opt for whole-grain foods such as quinoa, brown rice, or barley. Other healthy carbs include old-fashioned oatmeal, yams, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, and whole wheat pasta.
The young athlete needs strong bones to perform their best. An excellent way to support their bone health is by ensuring they consume enough calcium. When people think of calcium, they almost immediately think of dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, calcium is in other foods like chia seeds, sardines, canned salmon, and rhubarb.
Our bodies need enough iron to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. When we lack iron, it could lead to conditions like anemia which impair standard body functions. Iron-rich foods to include in your child’s diet are liver, eggs, shellfish, spinach, legumes, and red meat. For dessert, give your kids some dark chocolate; which is delicious and high in iron.
Protein helps the body repair muscle and fight function. However, too much of it can lead to calcium loss and dehydration. It is why it’s essential to ensure they get just enough.
Foods that are high in protein include tuna, salmon, chicken, lean meat, and eggs. When most people think of protein, they think of animal products; however, fortified whole grains, dried fruits, and leafy green vegetables also have a decent amount of protein. Other high-protein veggies you can include in your kid’s meals are watercress, spinach, alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli.
High-fiber foods are essential to athletes because it not only keeps them regular but because they take a long time to digest, kids, don’t end up overeating.
We can’t always monitor what our children eat, particularly when they’re at school or out with their friends. They may eat simple carbs or foods that are high in sugar that will make their insulin levels and blood sugar spike. One of the benefits of fiber is that it will help steady blood sugar and insulin levels. Fiber-rich foods to serve to your kid include whole-grain bread, high-fiber cereals, wild rice, and bran.
When it comes to a healthy and nutritious diet for a young athlete, remember that adequate hydration is as important. To help them avoid sodas, keep your fridge stocked with healthier alternatives such as 100% fruit juices and naturally-flavored waters.
And to keep your kids from giving into cravings and junk food, ensure you always have healthy snacks available such as homemade trail mix, fruits, peanut butter, and air-popped popcorn.
One of the top reasons why kids quit sports has nothing to do with their lack of interest but with a shortage of funds.
The sad reality is that many parents cannot afford the costs involved in sports participation. Between the uniform, equipment, and travel expenses, the costs ultimately add up. However, before pulling their kids out, parents should know that there are ways to deal with the high cost of sports.
Here are six ways to save money on everything from your kid’s gear to their uniforms:
Choose One Sport
It’s not uncommon for kids to move from one sport to the next as the seasons change. However, that could mean uniforms, gear, and other fees for multiple games. While it may be difficult to have your child choose one sport, it is better than none. By having your kid pick one sport, they can focus their efforts towards developing their skills and not be distracted by anything else. And if next year, they want to try a new sport, that’s fine too.
Used vs. New
Be smart about your purchases. There’s no need to buy brand new equipment when there’s an affordable option. Many parents sell perfectly good equipment their children have outgrown or got bored of very quickly. Go online for great deals on used gear. You can also ask your community if anyone has any sports equipment they would like to donate.
Selling Old Equipment
Make more money by selling old equipment that your child has outgrown. Another great way to make money is to have a garage sale or sell stuff online once a year. Throughout the year, we tend to accumulate stuff we don’t need or end up only using one time.
Buy Only What’s Necessary
The fastest way for sports expenses to wreak havoc on your budget is when things start to add up and snowball. There’s no need to buy luxury items or unnecessary accessories. Explain to your child that branded headbands and towels and fancy water bottles don’t make them a better player.
Volunteer Your Time
Ask the head coach or the league leaders if they offer discounts to kids whose parents volunteer their time. Volunteering your time as a coach could mean saving on registration fees but it’s also an excellent way for you to spend more time with your child.
Research Sports Leagues
There are plenty of choices of sports programs to choose. If you do your research, you will find that there are lost-cost and even free programs run by the Boys and Girls Clubs, local churches, sponsored recreation centers, and the YMCA. Some applications might assist with finances and offer scholarships.
When it comes to expenses for the sports, there are smart ways to save. Be ready to do your research and don’t be ashamed to rely on your community who may have tips for you on where to find the best deals.
Kids are eager to please everyone from their parents, to the coach, and to teammates. Unfortunately, this can lead them to push themselves beyond their limits. They end up feeling overwhelmed, affecting both their grades and sports performance.
Help your child find a healthy balance between athletics and academics and keep them from becoming overwhelmed by the expectations to juggle both.
The problem is that children aren’t always quick to admit when something is wrong. They try to deal with it and convince themselves it’s nothing. However, if your child is exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally, all the pressure they feel may add up. Don’t let sports interfere with your child’s health and wellness. Here are ways to ensure the demands of being a student-athlete do not burden them:
When you talk to your child often, they know that you are always there for them to turn to when they have a problem. They need to know they can count on you.
Touch base with your child each day. Don’t ask the default “how was your day” question and think you’ve done your part in checking in on your kid. Ask specific questions that prove you pay attention to what they say.
Look for Signs of Burnout
If your kid seems overly fatigued or has lost enthusiasm for the sport, they may be burned out. Overtraining can cause them to be exhausted both physically and mentally. They may no longer show excitement for the game they once loved and fall into a slump. Check if their grades are dipping.
Are they getting adequate sleep? Are they displaying symptoms of depression? It’s crucial that you identify the signs so that your child can get the attention they need. Sometimes, all it takes is a break from sports.
Don’t Pressure Them with Your Expectations
We all want the best for our kids; however, it’s often our expectations that lead our children to feel pressured and overwhelmed. They’re scared to disappoint us, and instead of being honest about it, they push themselves to the limit. When it comes to their sports performance, praise them but never make them feel that you’re only proud when they do well. Commend them for their efforts even on days when their game is a little off.
Listen When They Need to Vent
Always show your support. If your child needs to complain about school or sports, let them air out their feelings. Sometimes we all need to get things off our chests. And as soon as we release the negativity, we feel better. Be present for your child by merely listening. Don’t pile onto the drama. Wait for them to ask for your opinion on what they should do. The best way to keep your kid from feeling overwhelmed is to help guide them towards what is best for them.
Student-athletes have a lot of pressure to deal with; however, most are happy to juggle both schooling and sport because they’re proud to. They take pride in their studies as well as the games they play. Unfortunately, when sports become more competitive, and classes get harder, kids can get overwhelmed. As their parent, it’s your job to guide them and ensure that you’re there to help them navigate through it all.