Have you ever thought of the foods that will maximize your child’s performance? By having a well balanced diet, one is able to maximize their health with an increase in energy, performance, self-esteem and weight control.
Kids tend to love junk food, am I right? Sometimes it’s the most convenient thing around when food isn’t prepared from home, but understanding the health consequences is mandatory! Consuming junk food on a regular basis can become an addiction for children and lead to complications such as obesity, chronic illness, low self-esteem, and even depression – which will in turn affect their sport performance, and academic performance.
It was found that junk food with high sugar content deplete energy levels and the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time, which will decrease the energy and focus for children.
One high-sugar product in particular that should be avoided is sports drinks. Canadian pediatricians say that sports drinks and energy drinks, which are often marketed as fluid replacements appropriate for sports or physical activity, are actually unhealthy for kids. These beverages can be useful for high-level athletes, but for children they are an unnecessary source of excess sugar – when in doubt, water is the best way to hydrate! Check out this CBC article for more information.
Nutrients are needed to keep young athletes performing at their very best! Two nutrients that are crucial include calcium and iron. Calcium helps build strong bones, which will help when there’s stress and strain of heavy activity! Calcium can be found in dairy products, orange juice, and dark green leafy vegetables. Iron can prevent fatigue, and can be found in meat, dried beans, and fortified cereals.
Protein also helps build and repair muscles, which most kids get through a balanced diet. Protein-rich foods include fish, lean meat poultry, dairy products, beans, and nuts. Too much protein can lead to dehydration, so water is essential!
Carbohydrates provide energy for the body, which will help athletes prevent running on empty! Carbs include whole-grain foods such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread and cereal, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Let’s be real… junk food can’t be completely ignored. But taking time out of the week to meal prep for your kids will be worth it in the long run! Unhealthy eating habits can lead to a decrease in strength and endurance, as well as poor mental concentration. Eating the right foods can help your child be a better athlete!
Nikki de Ocampo is the Domestic Development Intern at Canada Basketball. She is currently pursuing her Health Sciences Degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion at Sheridan College, and has a passion for holistic health and wellness.