Healthy food is essential for children (See link); however its importance is accentuated when it comes to children who are aspiring to become professional athletes. When compared with their sedentary peers, due to their extremely active lifestyle they need 10 -15 times more energy and hydration. A well-balanced diet plan and a large quantity of drinks are important for optimal performance and health.
A diet high in calories, proteins and carbohydrates is a must for young sports enthusiasts. As a parent you need to look into foods with the right amount of all these dietary nutrients according to your child’s level of activity, exercise, training and its intensity.
What to Eat
- Make certain your child begins his day with a healthy breakfast. There are some children who have a weak appetite at morning and prefer do have a very light breakfast. If your child belongs to this category give him a light breakfast of cereal, fresh fruit juice, home-made energy snack bars, or a chocolate milk drink for chocolate lovers.
- Keeping your child hydrated throughout the day is important. Instead of having him drink water only during training sessions keep a track of the amount of water he consumes every day, ensuring he doesn’t drink less than the amount you have calculated according to his activity.
- Indulging in desserts and fast food once in a while is acceptable; however your child needs a balanced healthy diet instead of obtaining his energy from junk food which doesn’t sustain the body for long.
- Before exercise or a sports event give your child a diet rich in carbohydrates 2-3 hours before the session begins. If for some reason he was unable to have his food give him an easy to digest energy snack almost 30 minutes before his participation in an event or training.
- If there is another training session within the day a couple of hours after the first one, give another meal or snack high in carbohydrates an hour after the first session ends.
- Watch out for dehydration during and after the exercise/training session. Dizziness, feeling light headed, nausea, cramps and an irritated attitude all point towards dehydration.
Making a diet plan according to the training sessions for the whole day will keep you from guessing what to feed your child and if he is getting enough energy from the food he is eating to maintain him during these sessions. A few eatables which you should make sure he carries around in his backpack while training include honey power bars, bagels, pretzels, almonds, nuts, granola bars, fresh fruit, and water. Another way to boost energy instantly is a chocolate milk drink which is high in protein and carbohydrates.
Maintaining a balanced diet program for young athletes is no small feat. As a parent you will have to be vigilant about the amount of food your child consumes, making sure he doesn’t begin his training on an empty stomach and at the same time ascertaining he has had food to maintain energy after the session ends.Learn More