Healthy Athletes, Healthy Kids

New Nutrition Guidelines for Our Families

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This year, Region 88 is focusing on healthier nutrition for the children.

We are asking all our families to work with your coach and team coordinators to shift way from the poor habits of junk food, and pro-actively take the lead in presenting healthier options for your children on game day. Below are some general guidelines for the half-time and after-game snacks. Check back soon for links to pre-game nutrition, and more detailed web sites on game nutrition for soccer players.

Make sure to read the changes to the After-Game snacks!

Why Are We Doing This?

We are not trying to be the snack police. Kids truly need to refuel after a grueling soccer game in the sun, and it is nice to share food after a joined effort. But the tradition of after-game snacks has picked up some undesirable aspects:

  • The snacks are usually unhealthful, high in (saturated) fats and/or sugar, and often kids get more than one of these. The same goes for the drinks! More often than not, we see cookies, candy bars, potato chips, instead of the nutrition that kids really need after a soccer game.
  • The extra snacks and drinks for all those teams (and their siblings) create an enormous amount of trash each week, which has become a major clean-up and environmental problem at the schools and parks.
  • Most importantly, in this era of rising health problems for kids, we feel that we are at risk of sending a mixed message to our youngsters: play sports (to have fun and stay healthy), but be rewarded with junk food (and undo the positive effects of what you’ve just done). We understand that a snack here and there won’t hurt anybody, but we all agree that it is better to try to create healthy habits as young as we can.

Recommendations

Region 88 knows that all children are unique, especially their healths. We recommend that every parent consult with their doctor about their child’s nutritonal needs.

However, with advisement from US Youth Soccer, Major League Soccer, and the Alliance for Youth Sports, Region 88 acknowledges that soccer players undergo unique game behavior, and suggests that each family try to implement the following:

  1. HYDRATING THE PLAYERS (Don’t forget water!)Water is essential to have before, at halftime, and after the game. Parents should bring water for their own child only. We do not recommend that the snack person bring drinks for the entire team.

    What about other drinks?

    • Sodas are univerally accepted as a very poor drink after a soccer game, so NO SODAS.
    • Even some of the boxed “fruit” drinks can ironically cause more dehydration than hydration for the players. (Don’t even mention all those straw wrappers).
    • In regards to sports drinks, some are very good and refreshing after a game, but some have high sugars, provide few nutrients, and are not healthy at all. Consult with your doctor to be sure.
    • Surprisingly, Low-Fat Chocolate Milk is actually a good drink for after-the game. ….LOW-FAT….

    And even better: It would be great if each player had their own reusable thermos for the entire season. This limits the amount of trash the team generates. Make sure to put their name on it.

  2. HALF-TIME SNACKS
    • Snack should be some easy to eat fruit (watermelon, grapes, oranges ).
    • Make sure to have a bag for trash.
    • Players should always drink water at half-time to replenish their lost fluids.
  3. AFTER-GAME SNACKS
    • To heal those muscles after a hard game, players should have a replenishing snack within 15 minute right after the game
    • If part of a team snack, limit one healthy, nutritious snack per player only.

    Healthy After-game Snacks
    Low in saturated fats, rehydrating, high in carbs, such as:

    • Low-fat yogurt with granola or fruit
    • Healthy Granola Bars. (Should be more carbs than protein)
      Be careful of allergies
    • String cheese
    • Applesauce
    • Nuts, Trail Mix (be careful of allergies)
    • Bagel with low-fat cream cheese or jelly
    • 1/2 peanut butter sandwich

    Try to Avoid
    High-saturated fat foods, high calories, and high sugars, such as:

    • Potato Chips
    • Donuts
    • Candy bars
    • Cookies
    • Cupcakes (keep the birthday snacks for another time)
    • Hamburgers
    • Fries
  4. ALLERGIESWork with your team coordinator to find out the allergies among the players. Some allergies are very dangerous, and it is best to be safe.
  5. CLEAN-UPEach team should make sure they clean-up all their trash. The beauty of limiting junk food, plastic water bottles, juice boxes and straw wrappers is that we don’t have to worry so much about all the cleanup. And clean fields make the schools and parks very happy.

    So when you do leave your game, don’t rely on others but make sure to look around and throw away any trash, and recycle any recyclables.

    In fact, just like snacks, it might be convenient to have a clean person assigned each week also.

More Health Info

More info on pre-game nutrition and other soccer-related health info links coming soon.