We all want our kids to eat healthy while they are social distancing at home, but let’s face it: a lot can get in the way. Parents these days are busy and tired from managing multiple schedules, homeschooling, trying to work and so much more. In normal life, when we aren’t practicing social distancing, parents are driving to and from activities and trying to keep up with the demands of work and the home. It used to be easy to grab fast food or takeout, convenience snacks and let your kids go wild. Right now, as a mom, I can say I have relaxed with my kids some. Let’s say I have been in the “work from home with the kids SURVIVAL mode”.
And if this is you too, it’s okay to set the bar a little lower in order to get by. But when activities pick back up and you see your child reaching for the sports drinks and sugary snacks often provided at practices and events, maybe try to encourage them to steer clear of that stuff in a private conversation at home. As kids grow, and especially if they are very active, their appetites are seemingly never-ending! It can be hard for anyone to keep up. So that is why we want to have healthy, nutrient dense snacks around at all times, even during challenging times like we are currently facing.
In this article, I’m going to cover the basics of feeding your child for performance while they are home along with some helpful snack ideas to get you through this social distancing. All of these tips apply for when your child’s activities resume again (and they WILL eventually so hold on tight!).
Let’s break children’s nutrition down into the basics. The bottom line is that good nutrition will not only help with your athletes performance on the field, gym or dance floor, but also supports their growth, development and learning while studying at home right now.
Here are the important pieces:
Being prepared with healthy snacks (and meals) when you are on the go helps to prevent fast food dining, eating at concession stands and sugary sideline snacks. I’m not going to lie – it does take some planning!
Kids who exercise for less than an hour might not need an extra snack outside of their usual routine, but for those who exercise for an hour or more might benefit from an extra snack. Be sure to snack before exercise and then have a snack or meal afterwards. For those who are particularly active and expend a lot of energy, a 4th meal of the day might be necessary.
Snacks don’t replace the whole food meals that we discussed above. Those are the foundation of the day, but smaller meals or snacks can be a helpful addition to support both performance and growth.
Here is a list of simple, nutritious grab-and-go and easy prep snack ideas:
When you pack your child’s lunch (or better yet, when they pack their own!) also pack a snack or two, especially on days when they have sports practice or a game, dance class, gymnastics or another physical activity. It can also be helpful to do some meal planning and prep on the weekend so weeknight dinners can happen earlier in order to quickly replenish nutrients. And during this coronavirus pandemic, I strongly encourage you to not lose sight of the big picture. Control what you can control, let go of what you can’t. Food is largely in your control – you decide the what, when, where and how much. So if anxiety is rising right now, know that you can certainly take back your health, boost your immune system and lift your mood by talking about yummy food, planning and preparing it and of course, eating it together as a family.
With a little bit of knowledge, planning and attention, your child can be well fueled for both mind and body.