Thursday, August 15, 2013

Soccer Snack Attack!

Have you ever wished your kids didn't get so much junk food at their sporting events?

Fruit-Only Snack Policy from Sally the Snacktivist!
Last spring, I introduced this snack policy for my kids' soccer teams. As enthusiastic as I was, it was shocking that the policy faced practically no resistance.  In fact, there were many, many words of gratitude, relief, and happiness from parents.  Plus, it was awesome to just see the kids pile up around the parent passing out fruit after each game, just as they did for Doritos and Capri Suns! Kids adapt!

Now, I'll pass the mike/mic over to Sally, the Snacktivist, who like me, is a registered dietitian :) She composed a letter introducing a NEW SNACK POLICY to parents.  I love how she sends such a positive message, which is rooted in helpful and convincing facts about today's health and nutrition for kids.  Here you go!  Feel free to copy and adapt as you like, Sally and I would be thrilled for the message to spread :)

Dear Parents,

I'd like to share with you a great snack idea!  Remember the orange slices we all ate on the sidelines when we were kids? Let’s bring back them back! We want our kids to play sports so they move their bodies, burn off energy, and be strong -- so let’s give them a snack that keeps them healthy.
Here’s what we are asking: Every child brings a water bottle, and parents take turns bringing fruit for after the game.  I will bring the snack for the first game!
This fruit-only snack policy benefits everyone because there’s less cost (when it’s your turn to bring snacks, you are only in charge of bringing fruit, no drinks) and less mess (no packages to pick up, no juice pouches in landfills). It also means they’ll be hungry for lunch or dinner afterward.  Feel free to bring any fresh fruit you’d like (please wash it so it’s ready to grab and eat). You can also bring small boxes of raisins (but please do not bring fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks, since those are mostly added sugar).
Some ideas: Orange slices, bananas, apples, peaches, pears, watermelon slices, grapes (cut into small bunches), berries or melon balls/chunks in paper cups.
If you don’t think your child will eat fruit or feel she needs something more after the game, please bring your own snack and give it to your child when you’re away from the field.
Remember to bring a full bottle of water to each game for your child. Please do not bring flavored water pouches or juice boxes for players. The best thing for kids to drink before, during, and after sports is regular water, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The electrolytes lost during sweat can easily be replaced at their next meal.
With this snack policy, our team can set an example for the whole soccer league. We all care about our kids and want the best for them, so let’s do something great for their health!
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  See you tomorrow night at practice!  This sure isn't August-ish weather, but it's just about perfect soccer weather :)
Thank you!

Soccer Snack Policy FAQ

Why fruit?
Fresh fruit has a little bit of carbohydrates for energy and lots of water for hydration. And kids simply need more of it: 75% of 6-11 year olds don’t get enough fruit. And on any given day, 25% of toddlers and preschoolers don’t eat a single bite of it.
What if I don’t have time to wash and cut up fruit?
Grab a bunch of bananas. It takes the same amount of time to grab those as it does to grab a few boxes of gummy fruit snacks. They’re cheaper, too.
What about sports drinks? Don’t kids need those after exercising?
Actually, no. Sports drinks are designed for endurance athletes. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that most kids need only water to hydrate during and after sports. Those drinks just add a lot of extra calories (plus sugar and dyes). Kids can replenish any lost electrolytes at the next meal or snack.
But our kids are burning off a ton of calories on the soccer field, aren’t they?
Kids burn off far fewer calories in team sports than we think. According to a recent study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, the average 8 year old burns only 150 calories in an hour of sports—but the typical after-game snack has 300-500 calories.
Don’t kids deserve a treat every once in a while?
The problem is that kids get treats at every turn: school, daycare, preschool, parties. Treats are not the exception anymore; they’ve become the rule. Toddlers and preschoolers get 16 teaspoons of added sugar every day, and 6-11 year-olds get 24 teaspoons. One in three children is overweight or obese today (triple the rate from when we were kids). According to Yale Health, American teens get close to a whopping 34 teaspoons per day!
My child won’t eat fruit. Why don’t you just bring some fruit for your kid?
The simple fact is that most kids are not going to choose fruit over a Fruit Roll-Up if given the chance. And don’t underestimate your child: you’d be surprised at the effect that positive peer pressure has on kids. They’re more likely to eat something new or different if they see their friends chowing down on it too. But if you’d prefer that your child have something else, give it to them in the car on the way home.
Why do we even need snacks?
We don’t. If all of the parents are in favor of eliminating snacks, let’s go for it. Less hassle for everyone.
Plus, Sally even made a video that "shows soccer snacks (healthy and unhealthy) and statistics that may help get coaches and parents on board with a better snack policy"  Check it out!

You may also be interested in this post about "Fruit Drinks".

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