Q: How can I prepare healthy snacks for my family during an active sports season or summer?
a: A proper and flexible nutrition plan is one of the greatest keys to success for your family. However, finding time to plan meals can be very challenging with schedules on the go. Your child’s nutrition directly affects his performance on and off the field, as well as disease and injury prevention. Look at your calendar and make time to plan nutritious meals and snacks for you and your family. Meal prep helps save time and maintain an overall healthy diet.
It can be helpful to set aside 10 to 15 minutes on the weekend to plan meals and snacks for the week, along with planning your family’s calendar. First, choose the meals and snacks you want to eat for the next week or two and create a grocery list – your kids can help! Next, decide on a day when you will prepare food. You can roast a chicken, bake a casserole, or make a yogurt parfait. Finally, pack everything into portable, portioned meals so your food is ready for the next time you need to go outside.
A quick option like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, banana and carrot with dip or granola will feed your little one better than a fast food burger and fries. But if you have to rely on driving through the car, try options like grilled chicken sandwiches or wraps, apple slices, or a yogurt parfait.
The main point to remember is that snacks are not bad for you. “Snacks” aren’t limited to chips or candy. Snacks are essential between meals to help keep your family supported for academics, general health, growth, and physical activity.
Thirty to 60 minutes before a workout or sporting event, encourage your child to eat something easily digestible that contains carbohydrates, such as a granola bar, pretzels, or a piece of fruit. After the match, pack a protein snack—maybe peanut butter cookies, yogurt, or chocolate milk—to help your child’s muscles recover properly.
If you’re on a long car trip, try to pack healthy snacks that will keep the family full, such as trail mix, popcorn, whole wheat brownies, or banana-covered rice cakes. Ask your child what they enjoy eating rather than packing up food items that will cause a fight. we visited Nutrition Resources For more ideas for healthy snacks.
For more baby health news for parents, visit our blog: 700childrens.nationwidechildrens.org.
Jessica Napolitano is a registered sports medicine dietitian at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Tips and tricks
Here are some tips to help you plan and prepare healthy snacks for your busy family:
- Pack nutrient-rich snacks. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts. They are full of nutrients that help your child’s body grow and give him energy for overall health and physical activity.
- Ask the children for help. Ask your child to help prepare snacks by assigning age-appropriate tasks such as mixing ingredients, whisking eggs, or determining the correct measurements for each recipe. Studies have shown greater compliance with healthy eating if children have a hand in meal preparation.
- Raise the level of healthy foods. Be Creative – Health Doesn’t Mean Boring. Put a few dark chocolate chips in whole wheat muffins or sprinkle a little honey on a yogurt parfait.
This column for the Children’s Health resource is from the Summer 2022 issue of Columbus’ parent.
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