Furthermore, snacks should be easily digestible so blood can flow to the muscles that are working during the activity and not to the gut to digest a heavy, fatty snack. Here are some additional tips to help you provide healthy and age-appropriate snacks:
- Consider portion sizes. Children do not need “grown-up” amounts of snacks.
- Read labels. There is nothing wrong with bringing ready-to-go processed foods for your child’s games; however, read the labels to ensure that the recommended amount of calories, carbohydrate, protein, fat and fiber are met.
- There may be children on your kid’s team who have nutrition restrictions such as nut allergies, lactose intolerance and/or gluten-free requirements. Ask to see if this is an issue. If so, provide alternatives.
Here are 25 fun and healthy snack ideas for game day:
Dairy (protein and carbohydrates):
- 6-ounce cartons of low-fat or fat-free fruited yogurt or yogurt in the tube (can be frozen the night before)
- Low-fat string cheese and mini pretzels or grapes
- Small cartons of low-fat milk and baggies filled with Cheerios, cornflakes, raisin bran, muesli, etc.
- Fruit and cheese kebabs with reduced-fat Colby-Jack cheese, grapes and strawberries
Fruits and Vegetables (calories and hydration):
- Orange wedges
- Frozen grapes
- Mini apples
- Small bananas
- Strawberries with the tops cut off
- Clementines (tangerines)
- Watermelon cut into wedges or sticks
- Fruit kebabs with grapes, melons and strawberries
- Paper cups of berries
- Baggies of celery and carrot sticks
- Small boxes of raisins (Note: Dried fruit does not hydrate.)
- Unsweetened applesauce in pouches or cups
Nuts and Grains (fiber and protein)
- Whole-grain granola bars (made with real ingredients such as whole grains, nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit, have six grams or less of sugar, have between two and eight grams of fiber, and have no more than 95 milligrams of sodium per bar)
- Air-popped popcorn sprayed with olive oil spray and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese in baggies
- Homemade trail mix of raisins, almonds, granola, and other nuts and dried fruit in baggies
- 100% fruit juice boxes (4 ounces)
- Bottles of cold water or thermos of ice water with slices of lemon (or oranges, limes, cucumbers, etc.)
Easy snack recipes to try:
It's important to take an opportunity to teach our children, and remind ourselves, of the importance of good nutrition and lots of physical activity starting early in life.
Michelle Zive, PhD, MS, RD, author, is an executive director and administrator of large health promotion programs in communities with the greatest health needs. These community health projects promote access, availability, and affordability of healthy foods, physical activity, and food security while decreasing chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.