The food kids eat can make a big difference to sporting performance.
Eat to meet energy needs
The amount of activity children do determines how much energy they need to consume. Kids who are more active need to eat a little more food from each of the five food groups.
Eat before activity
It’s more important to eat and drink before playing sport. Foods such as fruit, reduced fat yoghurt, sandwiches and water an hour or two before sport are usually appropriate.
Children have not yet developed an adult’s ability to sweat and keep themselves cool during high-intensity sport or exercise in heat. They need to pay special attention to drinking during exercise to avoid dehydration. Water is the best option. When workloads become serious, sports drinks may be suitable.
The breaks between events may not be long enough for a meal to be digested. Instead, a better strategy might be to have lots of small nutritious snacks throughout the day. Experiment during training to know what type and timing of foods and fluids best suit your child – don’t leave it until competition day.
No break between events: Water and sports drink
Short break between events (less than 1 hour): As above, and the following, if hungry: fruit (fresh, canned, dried) or fruit bar, jelly lollies
Medium break between events (1-2 hours): Water, sports drink, fruit juice, smoothie, liquid meal, crackers, sandwiches, cereal bars, pikelets or scones, reduce fat yoghurt (plus the same snacks as above)
Long break between event (more than 2 hours): Water, sports drink, fruit juice, smoothies, breakfast cereal with reduced fat milk, bread rolls with meat/reduce fat cheese fillings, rice or pasta salad (plus the same snacks as above)