This morning I quickly popped in to buy the necessary items for my house, I do not know if I was amazed or shocked to see parents and their kids loading their baskets with all kinds of unhealthy foods.   I understand that our lives are busy from getting kids to school and getting ready to go to work, so pre-packed meals and snacks are easy, and at times we all indulge and enjoy unhealthy foods.  The sad part is that the one family were all overweight and I wondered if they believe that they are doing the right thing for their kids, by letting them live an unhealthy lifestyle.

Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that kids should not be able to enjoy the occasionally sugar filled treat or fries and a burger, but it is important to try and teach them to be active and eat healthy.

For all young children being active is important and should always be fun, whether it is playing outside or joining a sports club, and parents should encourage them to play and enjoy physical activities.

As your child gets more competitive in sports, they will dedicate more time to practicing and the competitions will last longer.    

Healthy eating is a priority, and it is helpful to plan if you have an active or athlete child.  A visit to the park can be great fun especially if you pack a cooler so they can be adequately fuelled for their activities.

Try to encourage vegetables and fruits, fill the cooler and fridge with cut-up fruit, yogurt, turkey sandwiches, watermelon slices, string cheese, vegetables with hummus or a dip and do not forget the apples and peanut butter.  As a sweet treat granola bars and vanilla wafers are a must. Snacks like these encourages healthy eating and are quick and easy for children to enjoy “real” food, try to avoid chips, chocolate bars, fizzy drinks etc.

Sometimes children can be picky eaters, explain to them that they need food to be able to perform well in their sport and that eating is just as important as training.  By allowing them to choose their own foods will give them the opportunity to see what food allows them to perform at their best and they will eventually choose what makes them feel at their best.

Adequate protein is important to build muscles and mind, yogurt, string cheese, chicken breast and peanut butter is a great source of protein.

During activities children needs to stay hydrated, oranges, juicy and water are great as this will keep your child hydrated. 

For those matches that needs a longer travel time, remember to stock your cooler with bottles of juice, and water, this may reduce the temptation to stop for fizzy sodas on the way.  Pretzels, granola bars, peanut butter and banana sandwich, apples, and fig cookies are great to snack during your trip.

To try to avoid “junk food”, a healthy second lunch after school or before sports is great and a second lunch is important especially for children who eat poorly at school lunch.  Children do not need to eat perfectly all the time and they need “junk food” in moderation to avoid them from feeling deprived.

Meal planning should not be treated as an afterthought, after all food is important and eating not an option. So, take the few minutes to plan your meals and you will have healthy, and quick meals on the table or ready to go.

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