Kids are involved in so many activities, and between school, homework, and sports practices, it’s sometimes confusing deciding when & how to “fuel” their little bodies for success.  Especially as the weather gets colder, we sometimes don’t feel as “thirsty,” but hydration is just as important in the winter as in the sweaty summer months.

Thanks to Ellen Briggs of Kid Kritics, Mom Since 1969 (MS’69), for providing these tips on how to feed & hydrate your kids before and after sports.  Ellen’s site is really mom-tastic – her Kid Kritics “seal of approval” is given by KIDS themselves for foods that are healthy AND taste good.  I recently joined her for her broadcast, Better Food Choices Radio and talked about “the business of motherhood,” and in our off-air chat, talked about ways she could provide tips at The Lounge – LOVE these!!

5 Tips to Fuel Your Young Athlete

By Ellen Briggs

Keeping your football player, dancer, gymnast, or soccer player well fed and hydrated for practices and games is a struggle.  The concept is simple…Input equals output.  Here is a program that works.

  1. Color Counts.  Try to have at least 3 different naturally sourced colors of food at each meal in addition to white and brown.  Trick: use mostly tasteless paprika and parsley flakes to up your color counts!
  1. WATER!  Formula: At least half each boy or girl’s body weight in ounces (25 oz. for a 50 lb. child) is needed on an inactive day. During play, hydrate with at least 4 oz. of water every 15 minutes.  One gulp usually equals about 1 ounce.  Pre- and post-hydrate as well. Avoid dehydrating soda and dyed sports drinks.  Water is cheaper. Since about 70% of your body is made of it, water is your best choice.
  2. Variety.  Be sure to have at least 5 different food groups including water at each meal. Fruit, vegetables, essential fatty acids (olive oil), eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and herbs/spices are needed additions for young active children.  Just one bite counts, so portions for each group can be small.
  3. Time to Eat.  2 to 3 hours before practice and play, eat high to moderate glycemic (sugar) foods such as pasta and bananas. Drink lots of water 1 hour before the action starts.  After play, drink fruit juice and/or water, and eat fruit.  Rest one hour, and then enjoy a meal of protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. (Burger in whole grain bun, salad with Italian dressing, baked sweet potato fries, trail mix).  Please note, it is what you feed your kids the prior week, not just the night before, which prepares young bodies for mental and physical performance plus endurance.
  4. Go Fresh.  When you serve fresh food, odds are you will also be feeding valuable nutrients to several parts of the body such as their brain, eyes, lungs, and nerves. Fresh foods give you the best nutrient options. Avoid processed food.

Follow these guidelines for consistent mental and physical performance, healthy growth and avoidance of injuries.

… for the health of your family.

Editor’s Note:  Thanks, Ellen!  These are great tips, and I love how you simplified the concepts so kids – and moms –  can put them to use right away!