What to eat before a practice or competition: The general rule of thumb is to eat three-to-four hours before activity, according to Leslie Bonci, Chief Nutrition officer for Come Ready Nutrition and author of “Sport Nutrition for Coaches.”
Some good foods to eat for breakfast would be waffles and eggs, a breakfast sandwich or pancakes and turkey bacon. For lunch try a 6-inch turkey, ham or tuna sub with pasta salad.
Foods to avoid:
Pop/soda, fatty foods, high-fiber.
“Carbonated beverages stay too long in the stomach and can cause bloating or an upset stomach,” Bonci said.
Fries, chips, hot dogs, salami, bologna are all fatty foods that take too long to digest and can also cause an upset stomach.
Try to stay away from feeding a child too large of a volume which could leave them with an upset stomach and with the feeling of being weighed down while playing sports.
Foods high in fiber like bran cereal or fiber bars can cause a gastrointestinal upset, Bonci said.
Think ahead. What you eat in the days before competition can affect performance.
“I am a fan of competition eating starting two to three days before an event,” Bonci suggested. “Have a little more carbohydrate contacting food at each meal such as fruit, cereal, rice, pasta and potatoes.”
According to Bonci, some of the athletes that she works with often eat a breakfast-type meal the night before a competition. However, there are other options such as cheese ravioli or tortellini with marinara, turkey meatballs or fruit salad.
Parents can also make their own tacos with chicken, ground turkey or extra lean beef, lettuce, salsa, brown rice, guacamole, shredded cheese and sliced fruit.
Another fun meal idea is thick-crust pizza with turkey pepperoni, veggies, sauce, part skim mozzarella and yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola.
“These are all fun foods,” Bonci said. “They can be kid sized and don’t feel too heavy in the gut.”
Cool fuel foods.
In hot weather, “cool” foods are a good idea.
“On hot days we want cool fuel,” Bonci said, suggesting foods like frozen grapes, smoothies or popsicles with blended fruit and vegetables, pasta salad and mini-wraps.
“Kids heat up faster than adults,” Bonci said. “So the goal is preventing overheating.”
At the snack bar. While the refreshment stand can be a cheap convenience for kids and parents, some snack bar foods can hinder a child’s performance.
Foods at the snack bar are usually high in fat and sugar, and the serving sizes are often larger than what a child needs. All of these factors can combine to lead to an upset stomach.
Better snack ideas for kids are trail mix, jerky, or dry cereal mixed with nuts and dried fruit. On a hot day make sure snack items are non-perishable.