Even when he’s not doing sport, N is a hungry child. He’s always wanting to eat. Somehow he manages during school time, but does come home hungry despite a hot 2 course lunch – mainly because he says the portions aren’t big enough for their age. But add doing sport and being active most days, that means he needs snacks.
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It is hard to encourage children to have healthy snacks, when sweet or savoury treats are more readily available to children just to grab and eat. He goes through phases with fruit – currently not really eating bananas (unless there’s berries for a smoothie), or apples (has an occasional one and enjoys it) – which frustrates me as fruit is so easy to pick up and eat. He’s not fussed about most raw vegetables, but certainly wouldn’t think of them as snacks. He’ll occasionally be persuaded towards toast or a yoghurt. Crisps and biscuits are easier.
Generally I’m not too worried as long as he’s eating a well balanced diet for meal times. His meals mostly comprise protein, carbs and a good amount of veg, often with something fruit based for dessert.
But playing sports and especially on a sports day, children need to have the right type of snacks. Carbs to give them fuel and protein to repair muscles. You want it to be tasty, because there’s not many children who’ll eat something that doesn’t inspire them.
N usually has to eat a packed lunch on his way to tennis because it’s always directly after lunch. For snacks he tends to take cucumber sticks, melon slices, or even a pack of mini cheddars. Anything that’s quick to eat and easy to handle in a short space of time. While he’s playing it’s mostly just drinking water, but some matches he goes to will provide refreshments. These tend to just be biscuits probably because they’re easy and cheap. Not very healthy, but he’ll turn up at a tournament just for the prospect of getting free biscuits (we don’t often have them at home). When I’ve had to provide snacks as tennis captain, I’ve generally done a couple of trays of strawberries, and some mini muffins. But most children just bring their own food.
Getting the snacks right (and more importantly the timings of meals) gets more important the older children are and the more sport they play. Children tend to like snacky foods, often because it’s more of a treat, but I want to try and get N’s snacks so they’re better nutritionally as well as being easy to digest.
Here’s some great snack ideas for children, especially if they want fuelling for sport. I’ve included a mix of savoury and sweet.
Snack ideas for kids playing sport
- Fruit salad mix
- Melon slices
- Trail mix (granola, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips)
- Homemade fruit flapjack
- Apple slices with peanut butter
- Boiled egg,
- Vegetable sticks and houmous diip
- Tuna mayo pot
- Brown roll with chicken, ham or egg salad
- Cooked chicken
- Pasta salad with chopped pepper and tomato
- Rolled up pastries – spread savory toppings like pesto and cream cheese before rolling, cutting and cooking
- Mini quiches – add egg mix to chopped up ham, chicken, pepper etc in muffin tins and bake til set.
- Homemade fruit mini muffins (add blueberries or raspberries to the mix before cooking)
Send children with their snacks in insulated lunch bags*, pack with ice packs*, a water bottle that keeps drinks cold. Avoid single use plastic by storing homemade snacks in reusable tubs* (we like Sistema ones). .
What kind of snacks do your children like when they’re playing sports?