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Nutrition Tips to Enhance your Child’s Athletic Performance

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if your child is active in sports, proper nutrition throughout the day becomes essential. The right foods and drinks will fuel their bodies and their minds.

There are many resources parents can consult for information about this important topic. There is the Canada Food Guide, your child’s coaches, nutritionists and your paediatrician. In general, experts will agree that it’s essential for your child’s diet to include foods from the following categories:

  • protein – meat, eggs, nuts and dairy
  • carbohydrates – whole grains, vegetables and fruits
  • vitamins and minerals – dairy, fruits and vegetables
  • fats – meats, cheese, nuts and oils

Make sure they start their day off right with foods such as eggs, oatmeal, nut butters and fruit. Pack a healthy lunch and snacks to keep their energy up between meals. Lunch options might include a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, a whole grain pita with banana and peanut butter or leftovers from dinner. Great snack options might include cheese, fruit or a handful of nuts.

To improve performance before a game or practice, children should eat two to four hours in advance to give food time to digest. Fuel up pre-game with a snack that includes carbohydrates and protein but is also low in fat and fibre. Bring a snack for longer practices, competitions or events, such as a sandwich, fruit or nuts. Energy bars are convenient, but whole foods are just as energy rich. After a game, aid recovery by drinking water and having a snack that also includes carbs and protein. Carbs give the body and brain energy while protein helps build and repair muscle.

Active kids might need more calories than the average child because they are burning more energy when they participate in sports. As a general rule, kids ages 6 to 12 need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories a day, but every child is different.

It’s also important that children hydrate with water, not juice, pop or sports drinks, which can have added sugar, caffeine and calories. Use a refillable water bottle and ensure your child drinks before, during and after activity to prevent becoming sick from dehydration. It’s recommended that kids have between 6 and 10 cups of fluid a day.

Typically, children should not diet no matter the sport or activity. As they are still growing, they need a balanced diet. Restricting calories, skipping meals, or adopting a diet high in protein or low in fats or carbohydrates can be harmful to both their physical development and mental health.

Studies show that there are many ways to encourage healthy eating habits in children. Many kids tend to naturally prefer carb-heavy diets, which isn’t good for kids in general, let alone athletes. If your child’s diet is limited to specific foods, for instance, you might want to take them to the grocery store and allow them to select a new food each time. Have them help out in the kitchen and prepare dinner or lunches with you. If they don’t like a certain food once, make it again and and again, and encourage them to try a bite every time. Eventually they might find their tastes change or that they are open to new experiences. Even if your family has a hectic sports schedule, try to plan healthy meals in advance so you’re not rushed or temped to feed them junk food in the car. When you can, sit together as a family. Eat slowly, spend time together, make it an enjoyable experience and model healthy eating habits yourself.

Parents concerned about their children’s diet or nutritional needs should contact their pediatrician or a dietician who specializes in children and athletes.


December 9th, 2016

Posted In: Athletics, Nutrition

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How To Know When Your Teen is Doing Too Much

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The goal of every parent is to raise well-rounded, competent, caring children.[/pullquote]

Having young teens involved in extracurricular activities and volunteering efforts can build character and be a part of a healthy lifestyle.  But parents must help their teenagers maintain a balance between school, activity, and free time to avoid unnecessary stress.

Let’s look at some benefits for children active in outside programs:

  • Create new relationships
  • Learn about commitment
  • Discover teamwork and organizational skills
  • Increase self-esteem by helping others
  • Learn time management
  • Obtain scholarships to colleges
  • Create a fuller resume to find a better job

Looking at the positives it’s no wonder parents want their children involved in outside activities and volunteering.

However, parents should remember four things when helping their teenagers choose activities: 

  • Teens need a voice
  • A need for unstructured time
  • Parents are the advisors
  • Know when to step in

Teens Need a Voice

The key of any parent/child relationship is open communication. You should allow your son or daughter a voice in the decision-making process and then listen to him or her.  Teens want to know their opinions count.  You help your teenagers grow toward independence by allowing them the opportunity to develop decision-making and problem-solving skills.  It is never too late to begin.

A Need for Unstructured Time

Show your children the benefits of turning off the outside noise to enjoy the company of family, friends, or self.  Have meals together whenever possible and enjoy a night of charades or a board game once in a while.  Without constant activity, relationships can be nurtured, whether family or friends.  Unstructured time reduces stress and allows for:

  • children to dream
  • creativity to flourish
  • the mind to expand through reading, conversation, or play activity
  • exploration of the world around them
  • discovery of a child’s inner self

Parents as the Advisors

Open communication does not mean that parents concede to any request from their children.  As parents you must consider the choices presented; then guide your teens to the best activity for them.  Once you and your teen choose an activity or two, check on the progress of the decision made.

  • Is your son or daughter still motivated to go to the activity?
  • Do they feel safe in the chosen environment?
  • Does the coach or director understand your teen?
  • Does your teen have enough time to complete schoolwork?
  • Does your teen still have unstructured time or family time?

Know When to Step in

If all you do is take your teenager to activities and no one has time for sit-down meals, you and your teen are doing too much.  There needs to be family time to have that open communication with your child.

It may be time to cut back on activities or choose something that doesn’t require as much time from your child.  You and your teen need to reconsider the choices if you notice the following:

  • Grades are slipping at school
  • Your teen is always tired /sleeping habits disrupted
  • Normal eating habits change /skipping meals
  • Constant preoccupation
  • Your son or daughter can’t follow the conversation at the dinner table

The goal of every parent is to raise well-rounded, competent, caring children.  It is important for you to guide your teenager to a balance of individual activities, family activities, personal time, and schoolwork so that your student can achieve success in life.

December 7th, 2016

Posted In: Uncategorised