When it comes to food and eating, adults and children are alike and both have equal good and bad habits. As a mother of two growing children, it has always been my effort to provide them with nutritious food and help them avoid junk food whenever they are travelling or just plain hungry.
Due to my constant efforts and being partly (it can never be 100% with children) successful, I am often approached by other parents to guide them, on meeting their child’s nutritional needs. Especially on the days when they are out playing a particular sport, going swimming or indulging in any of the outdoor and adventurous activities kids take up nowadays.
What and how children eat, affects their sports performance, is now a well-recognized fact all over the world. Good eating habits promote health, overall wellness, and may influence your child’s endurance, speed, and on field decisions. Bad habits can have the opposite effect, getting in the way of their achievements, and even growth.
Based on my experience over the years, here are five ways how nutrition can help your children be better sports persons.
1. Food helps young children grow and play
Food is the fuel that provides the essential nutrients and calories your child requires for his healthy growth and overall development. Without proper nutrition, growth can often slow down and not be as required. As your children experience, undergo physical activity, food becomes a integral part of their performance. A child, who is well fueled eating balanced meals and snacks leading into training or competition, will often feel energized and ready to perform.
2. Boost their performance
When it comes to good nutrition, the best foods are those that are wholesome and naturally produced. If your child is very active in sports, then his diet should provide him with enough protein, carbohydrate, unsaturated fats, vitamins and minerals, which can be found in a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products (or nutritious non-dairy substitutes) etc.
Foods that you definitely need to avoid, as they aren’t nutritious and healthy are candies, sweets carbonated drinks, chips, and cookies among others.
3. Good performance on the field also requires focused mental concentration.
The brain functions best when it is well nourished, too. Eating well balanced, nutritious and regular meals and My Mom’s Granolas, help provide the brain with nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates and protein, which can positively affect your child’s mental ability. When your child goes to practice on an empty stomach or does not go for the games with well-balanced nutritious food, he or she may not be prepared to perform their best.
4. Drink enough water both before and after the games.
Being hydrated properly is a very important part of your child’s performance on the field. Eating juicy foods such as fruit, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps your child prevent dehydration. When young children are dehydrated, they may get headaches, feel tired and sluggish, resulting in poor performance. Muscle cramps may also occur when they are dehydrated, especially in hot, humid weather, which can slow down and affect their health.
5. Schedule their nutrition intake
While having good quality and nutritious meals are important for your child’s sports performance on the field, what also matters is when they are getting it and how often. Our bodies perform best when they have access to energy and nutrients throughout the day. Balancing the consumption of protein and other nutrients, through a well-planned schedule helps your child feel full and energetic throughout the day, which can be immensely beneficial especially on the field.