Your kids are running between tap class and swimming lessons and hockey practice and karate. They have to deliver the newspaper, go to Girl Guides for 2 hours, are asking for rock climbing lessons, and to join the school volleyball team. Your kids are active and busy, and you love it. You wouldn’t have it any other way. But young kids, tweens, and teens are maturing at an alarming rate, and active kids who are involved in many hours of sports each week need to ensure they are receiving proper nutrition to perform and recover.
Between rushing out the door in the morning and getting home from work and school pick ups, there is often nothing planned for dinner, no snacks packed, and no water bottles filled to keep the kids going during evening activities.
You might grab a quick burger and fries at the drive thru, a power drink from the gas station, and a muffin at the coffee shop. You hope it’s enough. Once in a while, maybe it is, but if this becomes your weekly routine of shuffling busy kids between activities fueled with only drive thru and convenience food, then your little athletes may be missing out on key nutrition their growing bodies need.
Their growing bones, joints, muscles and cardiovascular health depends on a diet high in protein, carbs, fat, fruit, vegetables and proper hydration.
A Proper Diet for Active Kids Includes:
Protein aids muscle recovery. It is crucial for all our bodily functions, including cell generation and repair, and it is important for children as they grow. Protein needs in children will increase with age. Children between 7 and 14 require 0.45 grams of protein per body weight, so a 12-year-old weighing 90 pounds, will need 40.5 grams of protein daily. Active kids may require more depending on their level of daily activity.
Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for an active child, and should represent half of their calories consumed in a day. Healthier carbohydrates are complex carbs found in starchy vegetables, whole grains, rice, cereals, and dairy. They break down slower, allowing blood sugar (and energy) to rise gradually, are generally higher in fiber, and provide vitamins and minerals.
Some healthy fat is needed in your child's diet on a regular basis for growth and development as well as supplying a source of energy. Healthy unsaturated fats found in fish, avocados, olive oil, and nuts should make up about 25% of your child's total calories. Pack snacks rich in these fats instead of empty calories
Fill water bottles with plain water or flavour with frozen berries, lemon wedge, cucumbers, or lime. Fruit punch in a pouch is not proper hydration for active kids. Sports drinks are usually not necessary for the average practice or game unless you know your child will be sweating a lot. Sport drinks offer added sodium and carbohydrates to replace lost electrolytes that endurance athletes require, especially when working out in extreme heat. Simple ice water is usually enough for the after-school super star.
Balanced meals are always the goal but often seem too time-consuming and out of reach. Strive for simple meals such as Whole Grain Tuna Melts, Meatball Subs, a Chicken Quesadilla, or Scrambled Egg wraps with a side of crunchy carrots or quick-cooking green beans. These mini meals are super fast to make, and with ingredients you have on hand in the pantry or freezer, they provide energy boosting protein, whole grain carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of vitamins.
Think glass of milk rather than fruit punch for hydration; choose almonds instead of fishy crackers for snacks, whole grain wrap with nut butter instead of a drive thru plain bagel, and navel orange or mango slices for a sweet treat instead of candy.
Fill up your active kids with healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates to keep them energized and give them the fuel they need to have fun at after school activities without hitting the drive thru.
It’s the start of a new year, a clean slate and a fresh start. It is January and there is no better time than today – right now – to make some small adjustments and create simple new healthy morning habits that you can maintain all year long.
No major changes are needed – you already have the basics covered – open eyes, get out of bed, one foot in front of the other. However, there are a few little things you can do to help your body wake up a little faster, a litter more refreshed and get through your day ahead with a little more bounce in your step. A fresh start to the new year that includes feeling refreshed every day, motivated and doing your body good, that’s a New Years Resolution everyone can get in on.
No gym membership or mega watt blender required. No diet or exercise routine to commit to. Just simple enhancements to your morning routine to get your day off to a healthier start.
Start your day 15 minutes earlier and don’t hit that snooze button! Take those 15 minutes just for you. Use them wisely - read the paper, get a glass of water, eat a banana, touch your toes - and the rest of your day will unfold with a little less stress.
Fill up on water first. Get a head start on the recommended 6-8 glasses of water a day by having a couple right when you get out of bed. Before coffee and before that bagel try to drink a glass or 2 of water first. Your body is 70% water, your muscles are 75% water and your blood is 82% water so you can see, your body needs water! Water will get your metabolism going, hydrate you, help your body flush out toxins, and get your brain in gear for the day ahead.
Morning people may literally ‘jump’ out of bed, but the rest of us need a little time to get the limbs moving. Start your day with a morning stretch. A yoga app such as Yoga Studio is great for proving a 10 minute routine that will have you touching your toes and bending sideways even before coffee. Stretching is proven to increase flexibility and blood flow, improve joint mobility and decrease risk of injury while sprinting through the rest of your day.
I know you have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it really is. Making sure each and every morning includes something healthy to eat is key to being more productive and focused and has shown to increase your likelihood of making better food choices throughout the rest of the day. Reach for Greek yogurt, whole grain toast, fruit and hard boiled eggs - all quick, easy and can take on the go.
Or jot down a list of To-Do items. Having a goal or a set of goals for the day gives you purpose and motivation to be productive and more focused. Starting your day of with a plan in mind sets you in the right direction and who doesn’t love striking those items off your to do list at the end of a successful day?
These are not ground breaking, life altering changes that you can make for a fresh start to the new Year, but they will certainly enhance your health. No need to give up anything, buy into anything or participate in miracle diets. Simply adding 15 minutes, a glass of water, a stretch, a yogurt and a goal to your morning will start of your day with a more energetic step!
Here’s to a happy (& healthier) New Year!
Weekday evenings are crazy when 3 kids are going in 3 different directions and everyone needs to get fed including the dog. I hear many parents saying the same thing. We may not be busy with toddlers and potty training anymore, but when your kids start getting interested in dance, gymnastics, soccer, or hockey, we turn into a fast food cook and after school chauffeur.
Racing from work or school to activities leaves little time for creating healthy meals. Take out may seem like the best solution given the time restrictions to get everyone fed, but sending kids off for a 2 hour hockey practice or 3 hour session of gymnastics fuelled with fries and a soda is not a healthy choice for kids, especially active ones. Not to mention the cost! Active kids need proper meals to sustain them for hours of after school activities. A granola bar and an apple is a great snack, but not enough for a 4 hour gymnastics class or for the kid who's going from swimming lessons straight to Tap class.
The suggestions to meal plan and spend Sundays cooking so you have meals all week are great if you actually have time to meal plan or spend all day Sunday making meals. I rarely do. Instead I created a rotation of super fast, super easy, filling, and healthy meals that I can prep in less than 15 minutes and even serve in the car if I need to (which I often do!).
I have become a professional at getting 3 kids fed and back out the door to dance, gymnastics, swimming, rock climbing, music and girl guides in under 20 minutes. The key to a balanced meal for active kids is first ensuring it is something they will eat it and second that it has protein, complex carbs in the form of whole grains, healthy fats, vegetables and a big glass of milk on the side.
Test out some of these on your active kids and then stock your pantry and freezer with ingredients you can use to throw together an easy balalnced meal to get everyone out the door and ready for after school fun.
Tuna Melt with Green Peas
Meatball Sub with Carrots and Hummus
Egg Noodles, Shrimp and Green Beans
Eggs, Toast and Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Chicken Quesadilla with Corn