These days, most children, including athletes, eat highly processed diets. They grab granola bars or Pop-Tarts for breakfast and then snack on chips and crackers throughout the day.
Fortunately, when athletes eat like this, they don’t tend to gain weight thanks to their young metabolisms and their activity levels. However, the lack of weight gain doesn’t mean that these children are as healthy as they should be or that they’re getting the nutrition they need.
Young athletes put a lot of strain and demands on their young bodies. Thus, it makes sense that they need to be eating a healthy diet that provides them with plenty of energy and the things their bodies need to repair themselves and stay strong.
This isn’t to say that they can’t have a treat here and there- they are still kids after all- but their diets should be mostly healthy.
What Does a Healthy Diet Look Like?
The unfortunate thing is that many parents are uninformed about what they should be feeding their kids.
If you have a young athlete in your life, focus on lean proteins, like fish and chicken. These foods provide the energy athletes need. Plus, they help kids feel fuller longer, which helps them to avoid overeating on junky foods later,
Carbohydrates are also a good source of energy for kids. Avoid overly processed carbohydrates, like sugary white bread or french fries. Instead, aim for whole grain pasta brown rice, and other healthy “carbs,” eaten in moderation.
Kids should also take in plenty of fruits and vegetables, and it’s not a bad idea to give them a daily multi-vitamin either. Choose one specifically designed for kids.
Finally, avoid processed foods, like soda and snack foods, whenever possible. Natural is always better.
If you can feed your child a diet like this, you can provide your child with good nutrition and, even more importantly, good nutrition habits for life. This can help him or her both in sports and in life in general. Plus, don’t be surprised if the whole family benefits for your young athlete’s healthier way of eating.