Since time never stops passing both on and off the field, could feeding your kids a fast-food breakfast be a good idea? Well, the negatives far outweigh any time-saving benefits that may or may not happen. According to a study by the Center for Weight and Health at the University of California, Berkeley*, food consumption away from home has increased dramatically, with the greatest increase taking place at fast-food restaurants.
So, What's Wrong with That?
Yes, your kids are eating, but they're not getting the valuable nutrients needed for growth. Instead they're loading up on sugars and saturated fats, and setting themselves up for a lifetime of poor eating habits. The study also shows that the marketing of fast food is aggressively targeted toward children. So it's no surprise your kids crave them as a reward after their Sunday match. And, unfortunately, that makes it harder for you and the coaches to teach your kids the benefits of a healthy diet.
However, choosing healthy foods when eating out or planning well-balanced meals before and after soccer doesn't have to be a losing game. And with a little knowledge, you can prevent yourself and your kids from being "called offsides" on the field of good nutrition.
The Rules for Great-Tasting, Healthy Breakfasts
CARBOHYDRATES: The Defenders - They provide energy that fuels muscles and prevents fatigue. For instance, eating pasta the day before a game is a common practice among top athletes. For breakfast, low-sugar cereals and breads and are good carbohydrate choices; and yogurt, while a dairy product, also contains carbs.
VEGETABLES AND FRUITS: The Midfielders - As good sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they're a critical part of the nutrition team, so your kids can perform at their peak!
PROTEINS: The Strikers - These include milk, cheese, eggs, meat, poultry, fish and beans, which help build muscles and keep our bodies satisfied for longer periods than with just carbohydrates.
FATS AND OILS: The Team Supporters -While they are essential for body function, fats and oils need to be used wisely and sparingly. They supply calories, but too much can lead to obesity, which is a growing problem among children in America and other parts of the world.
Like learning the fundamentals of ball control, healthy eating habits take practice - what your kids eat today will influence the choices they make as adults. That's why it's so important to teach them the rules of the nutrition game when they're young. If they learn now, they'll have what they need to play well in every match and in every situation life throws at them. Visit the United States Department of Agriculture's* MyPyramid Web site at http://www.mypyramid.gov for more information about nutrition and healthy eating.