PLANNING MEALS FOR SPORTY SCHOOL CHILDREN ACTIVITIES

Sports readiness means that a child has the physical, mental, and social skills to meet the demands of the sport. A sporty preschooler is a child who is very active at playtime, and partakes in extramural activities such as swimming, dance, tennis, mini soccer etc.

Children who play sport need an extra snack before and after sport to meet their increased energy demands. Before sport, a snack is required to provide sustained energy for physical energy and mental energy. Sometimes, if the sport duration is longer (more than 40 minutes), a snack during sport is required. However, at a young age this is usually not the case. Post sport, a snack is required to replenish muscle glycogen (carbohydrates), and protein is needed to help build and repair muscle, as well as keep the immune system strong.

TIPS ON PLANNING LUNCH BOXES (LUNCH & SNACKS)

Here are some ideas to ensure that you have good, wholesome food to take to school and to have in-between school and sport activities.

Basic Principles for healthy lunch boxes:

  • It takes planning – you need to plan ahead so that you buy / eat the correct foods for making snacks and lunchboxes.
  • Resist the “easy” option to buy cold drinks, crisps and chocolate bars from the tuck shop – in the long run this is going to ruin your health.
  • Resist your temptation for high-fat snacks and fizzy cold drinks.
  • You need regular snacks if you are more active and some children / teens have a much higher energy requirement because they’re more active.
  • Try to keep lunches interesting and tasty with food that looks good to eat.
  • Lunchboxes may have to replace three to four meals a day – if breakfast wasn’t eaten, a mid-morning snack, lunch and the mid-afternoon snack – a whole menu in one box!
  • Packaging is important – buy a sturdy plastic container that’s big enough to accommodate the food you want without getting squashed. Consider buying a small non-breakable flask for keeping cold foods and drinks cold, and hot foods and drinks hot.
  • Eating a variety of foods to give the best chance of obtaining a balanced diet.
  • Select foods from all the food groups every day:
    • Milk and dairy products……e.g. yoghurt
    • Fruit and vegetables………. e.g. apple / banana / orange / grapes
    • Breads and starches………. e.g. sandwich, pasta salad
    • Protein foods like meat, fish, eggs and legumes…. e.g. chicken, tuna, beans
    • Fats and oils, including nuts……. e.g. peanuts

SCHOOL-GOING PERSONS NEED HEALTHY FOODS AND DRINKS TO SNACK ON OR TO TAKE TO SCHOOL

Cereals, breads and starches

  • Low-GI, whole-wheat or rye bread / rolls, crisp bread (rye or wheat)
  • Pita bread (brown), or hot dog/hamburger rolls, or bagels (buy the whole-wheat varieties if possible)
  • Whole-wheat muffins or muffins made with fresh fruit like banana, raisins/sultanas/dates, or nuts; cheese muffins
  • Oat crunchies
  • FUTURELIFE® High Protein SmartBar
  • FUTURELIFE® Smart food™
  • Muesli or bran rusks
  • Baked potato with a filling or potato salad (use lite salad dressing or low-fat mayonnaise)
  • Cooked corn on the cob or mielie bread

Protein foods

  • Lean meats (ham, beef, chicken) OR grilled chicken pieces (wings or drumsticks)
  • Cooked or canned sausages (only for thin and very active children as sausages contain quite a lot of fat)
  • Boiled eggs
  • Canned fish such as tuna, pilchards or sardines
  • Biltong (cut off the fat)
  • Meat or fish spreads e.g. Bovril, fish paste
  • Baked beans

Milk and dairy foods

  • Yoghurt (plain mixed with honey and nuts or fresh fruit, or read-made, flavoured, low-fat varieties)
  • Cottage cheese (flavour plain cottage cheese with tomato sauce or piccalilli, mashed banana or avocado, nuts or dried fruit)
  • Cheeses (all types, use grated or cut into cubes)
  • Cheese spread (use in moderation)

Fruit and vegetables

  • Fresh fruit – apples, pears, naartjies, oranges, plums, peaches, grapes, litchis, mango, pineapple or melon pieces, grapes
  • Dried fruit and fruit rolls
  • Carrot or celery sticks, baby tomatoes, cucumber wedges
  • Vegetable muffins (grated carrots and baby marrows can be added to a basic muffin mix)

Fats and oils

  • Use margarine as a spread on breads but thinly
  • Nuts, peanut butter
  • Nutella spread
  • Crisp bacon (crumble and add to fat-free cottage cheese)
  • Avocado – mash and use instead of margarine
  • Low-fat or lite salad dressing, or mayonnaise 
(Use this category sparingly to ensure that inactive children don’t gain weight)

Flavourings

(Add taste, colour and variety to lunchboxes and snacks)

  • Chutney – try different varieties
  • Tomato sauce – an antioxidant that protects against cancer
  • Mild mustard, pickles or gherkins
  • Olives

Drinks and liquid foods

  • Milk, plain or flavoured OR FUTURELIFE® Smart Drink™
  • Homemade milk shakes (puree fruit with low-fat milk)
  • Fruit juice, still or sparkling
  • Energy drinks for children who participate in sport
  • Hot chocolate or cocoa made with skim milk
  • Soups (winter)
  • Cold water and ice for sports meetings

Snack ideas that require no refrigeration before sport:

✓ Orange wedges, melon cubes, grapes
✓ Whole-wheat carrot muffins or bran muffins
✓ Box of raisins or peanuts
✓ FUTURELIFE® High Energy SmartBar
✓ FUTURELIFE® Crunch Bar
✓ Small naartjies, apple, bananas
✓ Banana bread spread with peanut butter or little honey
✓ Dried apricots or other dried fruit
✓ Provitas and cheese

Snack ideas that require no refrigeration after sport:

✓ Mozzarella cheese sticks with fruit e.g. apple / grapes
✓ Whole-wheat carrot muffins or bran muffins with cheese
✓ Box of raisins or peanuts
✓ Biltong
✓ ½ tin baked beans
✓ FUTURELIFE® High Energy SmartBar
✓ FUTURELIFE® Crunch Bar
✓ Cucumber sticks, raw carrots, baby tomatoes dipped in cream cheese
✓ Peanut butter sandwich

TREAT YOURSELF

And lastly…. indulge! Treating yourself once in a while to a “forbidden” food will keep you from feeling deprived. When deprived, it can easily lead to overeating. Stop a binge before it starts by indulging every now and then.

By controlling portion sizes and planning meals you can reach your ideal healthy weight or maintain a healthy weight and enjoy interesting lunches and snacks that are good for you and give you energy to perform well in sports!