One of the toughest things to combat in being the parent of an athlete is hunger. I remember in high school being at softball tournaments all weekend, sometimes playing back to back games or having to run from my tournament all the way across town so that one of my parents would be able to catch a bit of one of my brother’s baseball games. Having a child involved in sports can result in an extremely chaotic lifestyle.
For the next few months, Saturdays belong to my son. Baseball in the morning from 9:30-11:00 and then dek hockey in the evening from 5:00-6:00. Incorporating travel time and time getting ready, putting on equipment, and warming up, this is going to eat up a significant portion of our day.
Making sure that your kid has eaten enough is important. I’m 30 years old and I went to the gym on Wednesday and felt dizzy 15-20 minutes into my workout, only to realize that DUH! I hadn’t eaten anything all day. It’s very easy in the course of a busy day to lose track of the fact that you need to consume calories to function.
As a parent who is constantly on the go, I’ve grown accustomed to carrying snacks in my purse for my son. Not only because sometimes you know you are going to have a long day, but because I know my son and he will announce he is hungry at the most inopportune times.
It is very easy to get into the habit of stopping at McDonald’s or running into a gas station for a bag of chips and a soda when you’re rushing around. When you’re playing sports though and running around, these are the foods that are going to result in belly aches and energy crashes. Have you ever eaten a Big Mac and then had to play a double header? I have. It’s terrible. But it was pretty much all we had time for between our games out in some obscure part of PA sometimes.
I’ve found some great snacks and foods to keep on hand for when my son and I are rushing around on game days.
1. Mott’s Snack n’ Go natural applesauce
These pouches of all natural-sugar free applesauce are easy and mess free. It’s a squeeze pouch full of applesauce that your child can drink like a Capri Sun.
Freeze your Go-Gurt. It eliminates mess in the car and turns something healthy into a fun frozen treat for your child to eat on the run, as well as increases its life outside of the refridgerator.
3. Peanutbutter crackers
Packages of Ritz peanutbutter crackers are one of my son’s favorite snacks. And you don’t have to do the pre-packaged ones. Make your own peanutbutter crackers with your cracker of choice and all-natural peanutbutter and stuff them into a sandwich baggie. My son personally loves Wheat Thins and Ritz Crackers best, so do what works for them.
4. Dole and Chiquita apple slices with grapes baggies
You can buy pre-packaged bags of apple slices mixed with red grapes at most grocery stores.
5. Pre-packaged carrots or celery and ranch
We buy boxes of 6 pre-packaged carrots or celery with dressing at Walmart.
6. Do it yourself trail mix
Mix baggies full of assorted unsalted nuts, craisins, raisins, pretzel bites, whole grain Goldfish Crackers, and M&Ms for your kids to munch on. Throwing a handful of M&Ms or chocolate morsels will liven it up. The great thing about trailmix is you can tailor it to your child’s eating habits, mixing in different cereals, grains, and dried fruit. You can also prepackage them at home in bulk, filling a few sandwich bags full to keep them fresh and be able to throw them in your bag on the way out the door.
7. Bottled water
Whether it’s a squeeze bottle of tap water and ice or a plastic bottle, get your child used to drinking water. Young children don’t need Gatorade. It’s full of sugar and is a major cause of cavities. Children in sports below the college level typically aren’t competing at such a high intensity that drinks full of electrolytes are necessary. Of course, some Gatorade and other sports drinks in moderation is fine, but your child is MUCH better served drinking water.
My trick to get my son to drink water over Gatorade was buying him the green Gatorade squeeze bottle that you usually see resting on top of goalie nets and on the benches. Hey, look! Marc-Andre Fleury has the SAME water bottle as you! Boom. Your kid wants to be Marc-Andre Fleury. Water consumed.
Apples, oranges, bananas, pb&j or turkey and cheese sandwiches, string cheese, sugar free pudding snacks, and so much more are easy to put into a lunch box with an ice pack to keep on hand for what may turn into a long afternoon at a field or ice rink.
There are many ways to keep your kid happy, healthy, and well nurished with good foods while out and about and at practices. This doesn’t even put a dent in the list!
Feel free to share below in the comments any foods that you have found work well with your child during sporting events!