No matter who you are, what you eat each day is important. However, when you’re an athlete, especially if you’re doing something as demanding as playing hockey, you need to be even more concerned about your daily diet. This is true for youth hockey players too. In fact, it’s even more true for them since their little bodies burn through energy so quickly. Thus, they need all the energy they can get from their diets.
Fortunately, though, by following a few simple tips, all athletes, including young ones, can increase their strength, stamina, and overall health and performance.
Breakfast Really is the Most Important Meal of the Day
First things first, it is important for athletes to eat a healthy breakfast. They should get into this habit every morning, but it’s especially important on mornings when there is a game or a demanding practice.
The breakfast should be as balanced and as healthy as possible. It should include some protein, good carbohydrates for energy, and some fruit. This will propel the young athlete throughout the day.
Also, this breakfast can replenish and repair the body fully, which is exactly what it needs after waking from sleep.
Don’t Be Afraid to Serve a Big Lunch
After serving their children a hearty breakfast, a lot of parents worry about also serving their kids a big lunch. However, athletes are fine to eat a large, healthy meal in the middle of the day, as long as there are still a few hours for digestion before a game or practice.
Start with a protein, like a piece of lean chicken or fish. Add in some vegetables, a few carbs, and a piece of fruit. This, coupled with lots of water, is a great way to get a jumpstart on that game or practice.
Some Snacks are Okay
Hopefully, if your young players eats enough at breakfast and lunch, he won’t want to snack much. However, on game days, it’s fine to eat a snack a little before hitting the ice. In fact, any time your player is genuinely hungry, a healthy snack won’t hurt.
Before games, though, make sure snacks are low fat and low protein so that they digest quickly and easily and also supply energy more quickly. Power bars or other small, healthy snacks are good options pre-game or practice.
Enjoy Some Freedom at Dinnertime
While adults might need to eat a healthy dinner to stay on track, kids, especially active kids, burn calories much more easily.
Thus, it’s okay for your child to enjoy what he likes, within reason, for dinner. An occasional fast food burger or slice of pizza won’t hurt him, as long as he stays active and eats healthy otherwise.
Don’t let your kids go “hog wild” at dinner, but do allow a bit more freedom and flexibility. If you can help your child follow these tips and exercise good control in general, he should stay in tip-top shape.