No More Cupcakes at Soccer Games!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Amy Roskelley of SuperHealthyKids and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of DiseaseProof or Dr. Fuhrman.

I remember as a child going to my brother’s soccer games. When it was our turn for snacks, we would cut up a bowl full of oranges, and the players would eat them during half time for extra energy. Today, our soccer games usually culminate with a box of Kool-Aid and a candy bar on the side. What happened here!

When it’s your turn for little league treats, you want to find something healthy, but you also want the kids to like it, right? During the fall soccer season, I decided to go against the grain, return to days of old, and bring sliced oranges. Those kids loved them!

I had a huge bowl with orange wedges for during and after the game, and every single one was gone before I could have any myself. Often parents underestimate the kids’ desire for solid, healthy food. Here are some other foods my kids love to eat:

  • Sliced apples, watermelon wedges and bananas.
  • Individually packaged non-salted nuts or trail mix
  • 8 oz water bottles, kids like these little water bottles.
  • Dried apricots and raisins in little individual boxes.
  • Baggies of air-popped popcorn.

So, ditch the cupcakes and give kids something better to replace their lost nutrients from playing hard.

Image credit: A National Acrobat

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Comments (8) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Steve - April 17, 2009 10:06 AM

I must admit to having some sympathy for the idea of some Kool Aid at a soccer half time, in fact I think it would be better than trail mix or nuts.

Why? Well, it's a sporting event, and the participants need simple carbs to prevent bonking, they don't really want fibre, and they certainly don't need fat (it won't digest before the event is over).

An elite athlete such as Lance Armstrong will suck back one of those gel packs (sugar and salt) just before a time trial, which is a mere hour and a quarter or so in duration.

After the event is time for the more nutritious foods, not during.

Regards, Steve

Hello Veggie - April 17, 2009 10:50 AM

Great article and good for you for bringing a healthy snack! When I was a kid I played soccer. I do remember getting excited when the parents would bring sugary treats and drinks while also thinking that junk food didn't quite line up with healthy exercise. It's so important to teach the significance and value of healthy food to the kiddos!

Peter - April 17, 2009 7:58 PM

Steve,

I think there is a difference between a cyclist in the Tour de France who may require 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day during tour days compared to children playing soccer. Dried friuts may provide the quick release of energy that is required. Often you see tennis players eating a banana during breaks but dried fruits such as dates, figs or raisins may be a better option. I agree that raw nuts aren't such a good choice at half-time.

Manda - April 17, 2009 11:40 PM

I must admit I'm one of those moms who will bring the healthy snacks, even if the junk is what is requested. Rather than candy, I'll contribute some dried pineapple for the kiddos, etc. The parties and sporting events and special occasions tend to add up rather quickly with children, and so does the amount of harmful, empty calories.

I must respectfully disagree with Steve. While I see his point in wanting to go for simple carbs during a sporting event, drinks like Kool-Aid still have no place at all. Our children don't need artificial colors, chemical flavors, and HFCS to fuel their athletic endeavors. They need solid, healthy foods and drinks to allow their bodies to perform in peak condition. Sliced oranges are an excellent snack as they provide fluid, natural sugar, tons of nutrients, and a bit of fiber for staying power.
No, you don't want tons of fiber to sit heavy in the stomach, nor do you want fat-laden greasy snacks. But some fruit and nuts make for great fuel, even just some 100% fruit juice.
Kids are meant to be active, and they're meant to thrive on a healthy plant based diet. They don't *need* junk food in order to last through a soccer game. A healthy daily diet, and some simple healthy snacks before, during, and after are the best way to go.

Steve - April 18, 2009 12:43 PM

Hi
Thanks for the responses.

I sorta missed the point that this would be pretty young kids here (I'm into my fifties so even competitive 18 year olds playing would still be kids to me ;-).

I admit I did not think about the weird colour and artificial flavours in Kool Aid (it's been a few decades since I've had any).

If the event is of short duration, then I would argue even more strongly that nuts or other fatty food are not the prescription at that time. About five years ago I walked a half marathon charity event, and I ate cashews, lots of them, and I was fairly bonked at the end of the walk.

I don't agree that any fibre is needed, though the small amount in a couple of orange slices is certainly negligible.

I routinely do 4-5 hour bike rides (once I have my legs) every summer and fall. At that duration you don't want too much fruit, unless there are toilet facilities nearby. I drink water, Gatorade, Coke, eat white bread subs or sweet chocolate, perhaps a couple handfuls of raisins when I am doing this. I catch up on nutrition after (like the big smoothie that I am going to make right now, to have along side my spinach and bell pepper salad).

Regards, Steve

Ilana - April 22, 2009 3:46 PM

Good for you for bringing healthy snacks! The big bowl of cut oranges sounds ideal, and my daughter is also an enormous fan (though not quite old enough for little league).

Another thing to think about is avoiding those small packages, which all end up in the trash. There's just no need for them. Today is Earth Day, so why not? If you can have a big bowl of oranges, why not a big bowl of trail mix or dried fruit or whole grain crackers? Ask the kids to bring a cup from home, so they don't need to use those little, plastic bottles. You could even serve them smoothies ... a great energy booster, and full of good stuff, and the kids love them. What better half-time treat when you're all sweaty and hot!

Oh, and if you're looking for an electrolyte replacement drink, like Gatorade, but you don't want to give the kids all the sugar and artificial colors, try coconut water. It's got the natural electrolyte balance you need, and it's very refreshing and bit sweet.

Health Issues - April 24, 2009 10:38 AM

Kids are amazing and will often eat what we put in front of them. I don't think cupcakes are a bad thing when done every once in awhile but I agree a simple healthy food will not only be tasty but will help them during and especially after their game. Other parents will also see that their kids like something besides just sweets.

Creativity is a key as well!!! Seems like variety and fun snacks will help the kids play harder and have more fun. Good article

Jennifer - April 27, 2009 10:17 PM

When I was in soccer my Mom ALWAYS brought Oranges and Gatoraide or Water. She said that the crap in cupcakes was harmful to an athlete. It made me angry when I found out that someone I know brought cupcakes to each of her sons games and practices. I can understand for after the first and last game, but come on with poor eating habits as it is junk food after a game is silly.

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