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Provide your little athlete with the right nutrition

Posted:  Thursday, April 16, 2015

Young and full of energy, your children need to be powered up for their physical activity and school sessions and for growth and development. Does that mean you could load them with simple sugars for that instant burst of energy? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends some healthy power foods and fluids to give your child that extra boost for performing well!

When speaking of energy, carbohydrates feature high on the list. It is preferable to provide carbohydrates from sources such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy foods for sustained energy release. This will also ensure sufficient nutrients for sports as well as growth and development. Taking into account children’s preference for tasty foods, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following smart tips to incorporate nutritious and tasty power foods in a child’s diet:

- Whole grain cereals and fruit muffins for breakfast could help incorporate not just whole grains but also interesting fruits such as bananas, blueberries and raisins.

- Breakfast could also include innovative options such as a parfait made of low-fat flavoured yoghurt, fresh fruits and crunchy whole grain cereals.

- Ensure you provide quick on the go breakfast with whole grain bagels, fruits such as bananas and apples, string cheese, yogurt cups, juice boxes, and low-fat milk.

- Pre- and post-game snacks form an important part of nutrition replenishment. Simple yet tasty snacks such as crackers with cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cut fruits, and fruit juice boxes can be put in.

Fluids also assume importance in the physically active child. Ensure the following so that the child is not dehydrated during activity sessions

- Children should be taught to monitor fluid intake based on urine output. Frequent urge with clear odourless urination indicates optimum hydration. However, lack of urge or dark yellow coloured and strong smelling urine indicates the need to hydrate.

- Always provide your child with a personalised water bottle and keep refilling it. It is important they drink at least 8 ounces (approximately 1 cup) of water for every half an hour of strenuous activity.

- It is important to choose beverages wisely. Most of the times, water is the preferred low cost option. However, during intensive workouts, diluted 100% fruit juice or sports drinks can also be provided. Studies show that chocolate milk could also be a good alternative for post exercise muscle recovery.

So go ahead and unleash the hidden sports buff in your child by providing good nutrition!

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