When Did Sports Snacks Become Treats?

When Did Sports Snacks Become Treats?

By Katie Jessop, Heart and Stroke Foundation registered dietitian, Health Check

This year for the first time ever I volunteered to coach our local school swim team.  I am an avid swimmer so it seemed like a good idea.  Little did I know that I was wading into the battleground of sports snacks.  What are sports snacks?  They are the snack that is offered at a kids sport practice or game, during or after the sport.  They are often a shared responsibility, where one family brings for the whole group, with a weekly rotation.

I should have known.  In the past, friends have contacted me for advice.  It seems there was disagreement on what constituted a snack.  Some parents wanted to offer healthy snacks.  Others brought what they thought the kids would like.  It seems desert was taking over.  A common question I heard was, “Whatever happened to orange slices?”

Sports snacks should not be a reward, but a way to hydrate and restore energy.  During exercise, bodies need water. For sports that last over 60 minutes, bodies also need carbohydrates.  And after sports, bodies are especially receptive to protein and carbohydrates, in order to restore what the body used to make those muscles go.  Snacks can play an important job in athletic performance and recovery.

As in any community, eating is a personal thing and no one wants to be told what to eat.  Here are a few tips for moving sports snacks from treat to fuel:

  1. At the beginning of the season, before snack duty is assigned, make a request of the coach or convener to emphasize healthy snacks.
  2. Offer to organize snack duty. On the sign up list, request healthy snacks, and offer examples
  3. Lead by example.  Sign up first and write the healthy snack you will bring.
  4. If there is disagreement about healthy snacks, suggest one healthy snack and one treat. Offer the healthy snack first, and then the treat 10 minutes later.

Examples of healthy drinks are:  Water, 100% fruit juice.  Sports drinks are not necessary for children, and are not meant for them.

Examples of Healthy snacks are:  pita and hummus for dipping, veg and dip, small whole grain muffins, whole grain granola bars, cut up fruit (frozen is fun), cheese and crackers, packaged yogurt (frozen is fun), raisins.  Generally think of Canada’s Food Guide groups and try to get two groups in each snack.  Juice and a muffin = 1 fruit serving + 1 grain serving.  Crackers and cheese = 1 grain serving + 1 milk products serving.

For more  healthy eating information including healthy recipes visit healthcheck.org

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  1. Siofan
    April 13, 15:18 Reply

    I am not a parent, but I spent years playing soccer in rainy, cold Vancouver. Orange slices and nothing but orange slices. I got a rash from them around my lips! When it dropped to around freezing we were allowed hot chocolate (powder and hot water, emphasis on the hot water). I think the snacks listed above sound amazing! Two food groups in one snack? I would’ve been overjoyed.

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