Feeding Active Kids 2

Snack foods

This is the second article of three in our current series, “Feeding Active Kids.” In our first article we looked at the need for proper nutrition to optimise growth and development as well as how to include adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat in your active kid’s diet. If you missed it, click here.

In this article we will be focussing on:

· Inclusion of adequate iron and calcium in the daily diet

· Providing quick, healthy, low fat meals and snacks to maintain energy levels

· Ensuring sufficient liquid intake

· Awareness of possible weight and body image issues


Iron in the dietIron is responsible for carrying oxygen around the body and is crucial for maximising energy levels. Low iron levels can cause tiredness and will affect performance.

BEST SOURCES OF IRON:Lean red meat, liver and kidney 

Try to include a small amount of lean red meat at least 3 – 4 times per week

OTHER SOURCES OF IRON:Green leafy vegetables, legumes (lentils and baked beans), eggs and breakfast cereals 

Try to include a vitamin C source with these sources, e.g.

  • A glass of orange juice with toast and baked beans
  • Cut fresh paw-paw into a bowl of cereal

Calcium in the dietCalcium is important for healthy growth and development of bones and it supports muscle contraction. A lack of calcium can lead to poor bone development during the younger years, leading to a increased risk for fractures later in life.

SERVINGS OF CALCIUM:1 cup of milk, 1 tub of yoghurt, 2 slices cheese or 1 cup calcium enriched soy beverage 

Consume at least 2 to 3 servings of dairy foods or calcium enriched soy alternatives per day

OTHER GOOD SOURCES OF CALCIUM:Tinned fish with edible bones, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds


Snacks contribute significantly to a child’s daily food intake, especially if life becomes busy or if there is a lot of excitement. Including carbohydrate sources as snacks will support better recovery in between activity sessions. These snacks can be solid foods or drinks.

SNACK IDEAS· Smoothies 

· Flavoured Milk

· Drinking yoghurt

· Cordials or sports drinks

· Fruit juice

· Cereal or energy bar

· Pop corn

· Fresh fruit

· Peanuts and raisins

· Dried fruit or fruit bars

· Muffins or crumpets

· Vegetable pieces with low fat cottage cheese dip

· Banana loaf or date loaf

· Pretzels or crackers

Treat foods can be included occasionally, but make sure to explain to your kid that treats or sweets on a daily basis will influence training performance. A great time to offer the occasional sweet treat would be after training sessions, e.g. sports drinks, cordials, jelly and jelly sweets. Eating large amounts of concentrated sweet foods before activity could lead to an upset stomach, increase the risk of getting a “stitch” and a disappointing training session or performance.


It is important to support a habit of regular fluid intake in kids. The risk for heat stress and dehydration is increased in active children, especially during the summer months. Remind children to keep up fluid intake by drinking “mouthfuls often” before and during training and immediately after each activity period as well as during the day at school or home. Water is the preferred drink, but flavoured sports drinks containing small amounts of sugar and electrolytes may encourage kids to drink during training sessions. Encourage kids to look for shade between activity periods.


Junior athletes (and their parents or coaches) may become concerned about their body weight due to changes related to growth phases. Children grow in “spurts” – usually going out first, followed by an upward growth phase. Coaches and parents need to be aware of children’s sensitivity to weight related comments and always encourage healthy food choices without severe restriction of quantity. Restrictive eating can lead to nutritional deficiencies, poor growth and long term problems with disordered eating habits. Encourage children’s involvement in food purchasing and preparation of healthy meals and snacks. This helps to develop a healthy relationship between the athlete, their food and their bodies.

Tips for overweight children 

  • Avoid strict dieting or rapid weight loss
  • Encourage more physical activity
  • Choose low fat foods for meals and snacks
  • Avoid the use of fatty take away and convenience foods
  • Replace high sugar snacks and drinks with water and more nutritious choices like fruit
  • Beware of “boredom eating”
Tips for children wanting to gain weight 

  • Eat larger quantities of nutritious foods
  • Include healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruit
  • Enjoy more nourishing drinks, e.g. flavoured milk or drinking yoghurt
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  1. By Feeding active kids 3 on July 26, 2011 at 9:33 am

    […] Active Kids focuses on eating for competition days and multi-event competition. Article one and article two are also […]

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