My kids play on the local soccer league every year and each of them is assigned one of the games to bring snacks to share with the whole team. With each player bringing snacks to one of the games, the whole season is covered. But I am appalled at the things some of the parents send as snacks! Twinkies, Fruit Roll-Ups, potato chips, cookies…. And the problem is compounded by the drinks they bring too, like Hi-C, Kool-Aid, and Capri-Sun. Can the state of nutritional awareness in our society really be this low?
I’m just amazed at what people will feed their children, but it becomes my business when they feed it to MY children too! Sometimes my kids will have someone with a peanut allergy on their team, and then everyone is warned not to send snacks containing nuts. But if I insisted that no one send snacks containing High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), for example, I don’t think it would go over too well. People would probably look at me like I’m crazy, or I’m “one of those” health freaks. So I decided to teach by example and send some healthy snacks when it was my children’s turn. I’m hoping for the best that some of the less-informed parents will catch on.
Here are five snack ideas for your child to bring to sports games when it’s their turn to share. They’re healthy and they’ve been kid-approved too!
1. Organic yogurt tubes. This is the #1 most-requested item that my kids want to share on their snack day. You’ve probably seen these in the stores, full of artificial colors and flavors, loaded with HFCS and lots of unpronounceable ingredients. If you look around, you can find an organic version of these, and kids love them! Freeze them and bring to the game as an ice-cold treat after playing hard!
2. Dehydrated fruit. Dried pineapple, mango, banana, and apple taste great and have a bit of sweetness. Fruit is also full of fiber and healthy vitamins. Just make sure to dehydrate it yourself or check for added sweeteners and toxic preservatives on the ingredient label when you buy it.
3. Skip the drinks! Most kids bring a water bottle to drink during the game, so why give them a drink when they already have one? Most children’s sports to not require the kind of lengthy hard-exertion that would make electrolyte replacement an issue, so giving your young child Gatorade is probably overkill. Even fruit juice has sugar that kids just don’t need, so skip it and drink water instead!
4. Trail mix. This may not work if you have a player with a nut allergy on the team, but for everyone else, kids love trail mix! You can often buy it in single-serving pouches but be sure to read the label and find a brand that’s not loaded down with excessive sugar or candy.
5. Fresh fruit. Organic is best, but if you’re on a budget, handing out conventionally-grown fruit is better than Twinkies any day! How about sandwich bags full of orange segments, so the kids don’t have to mess with peeling them? I’ve seen packages of pre-cut apple slices in the store too.
I wonder if parents sometimes try to impress one another with the snacks they bring. If I hand out bananas to the kids, will everyone think I’m cheap? I hope they just think I’m brilliant and healthy, but I’m willing to take the risk!
Article by Jennifer Needham
Jennifer is a homeschooling mom to five kids, and works from home as a Nutrition Educator. She's currently a grad student earning a masters degree in Nutrition. View her website, full of free lesson plans to teach children about nutrition and health, at Nutrition For Healthy Kids.
Jennifer has written 15 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
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