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Create a Healthy Sports Snack Policy

Rally parents to provide healthier half-time or post-game snacks.

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Updated October 28, 2013

Boys on sidelines at soccer game eating oranges

Fruit makes the best sports snack.

Alistair Berg / Digital Vision

Are you concerned about the sports snacks handed out on the sidelines of your child's games? Has she grown to expect a juice box and a bag of chips after every match, whether or not she's even hungry? Aside from the empty calories and sugar they add to your kid's diet, these snacks can derail his motivation too. Is he playing sports because it feels good to move his body and he enjoys being part of a team ... or because he "earns" a cookie (or five) after an hour on the field?

If you hate seeing the drink pouches and cookie packages come out after a game, you're probably not alone. And if you speak up, you may find a lot of allies among your fellow sports parents. First, find out if your child's sports league even has a snack policy. If not, ask the coach or league director if you can propose one. Sending out a list of suggested snacks is helpful; asking everyone to comply with a team-, school-, or league-wide policy is even better (since kids can spot an inconsistency a mile away!).

You can also volunteer to be the snack schedule setter-upper for your team. It isn't a lot of work—you should be able to do it all by email, or via an online coordinator like VolunteerSpot—and you'll be in the perfect position to influence the types of snacks parents provide.

Once you know if there's a policy and who administers it, ask for the chance to suggest healthier choices to parents. A fruit- and water-only policy is easy to understand and implement. You might try a letter like the one below (adapted from Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, LD, at Real Mom Nutrition and used with permission). Even if you don't get 100% support and buy-in, you've at least started a conversation about healthy choices. Good luck!

Dear fellow soccer parents,
I'm concerned about the snacks being offered at kids' sports games, and I know many of you probably are as well. We want our kids to play sports so they move their bodies, burn off their energy, and be healthy, but all of this is canceled out by handing them cookies and juice after a game.

That's why the coach and I are asking that this season, kids bring their own water bottles, and parents take turns bringing fruit as a post-game snack. This fruit-only snack policy benefits everyone because there's less cost (you can easily buy fruit for the whole team plus siblings for around $5) and less mess (no packages or juice pouches to toss).

Feel free to bring any fresh fruit you'd like (washed, so it's ready to grab and eat). Some ideas: Orange slices, bananas, apples, peaches, pears, watermelon slices, grapes (cut into small bunches the kids can grab), berries or melon balls/cubes. Small boxes of raisins are also an option, but please don't bring fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks, since those don't contain any real fruit and are mostly added sugar.

If you don't think your child will eat fruit, or you feel he needs something more after the game, please bring your own snack and give it to your child when he's away from the field. The best thing for kids to drink before, during, and after sports is regular water, so please bring a full bottle of water to each game and skip flavored water pouches, juice boxes, and sports drinks.

With this snack policy, our team can set an example for the whole league. We all care about our kids and want the best for them, so let's start here.
Thank you!

 

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