Maintaining adequate nutrition in athletic children is of great importance to their overall health, growth, development, and consequently to their sporting performance. The well nourished junior athlete will be able to play better and for longer, stay mentally alert, and recover quicker from training and competition. The active child who is not getting enough total energy may become tired and lethargic, and even struggle to maintain their enjoyment in sport.
Whether he is a usually active child or a sincerely dedicated kid towards sports, they all require a certain nutritional guideline. Preparing breakfast for your child before school or choosing a snack after a sports practice, healthy choices are a must for every child. Every child is special and so is their diet.
A child from the time he is born is growing rapidly anatomically and biologically. His needs are specific to his growth and require a set framework to attain peak performance & development. With the modern food choices, native nutrition is no longer followed.
At a young age, the child doesn’t aspire being a sportsperson, the parents aspire him to pursue a certain sport. And it is their responsibility to provide them not only with the best coach, but also with sport specific nutrition in order to attain peak performance and mask failure.
However, there are a group of children physically active but playing sports for recreation. if the correct nutritional & fitness guidelines are provided at this stage, he would can be groomed to be a successful sportsperson & get mentally fit thus attaining excellence in both.
Whether he is active, a potential sportsperson or an inactive but intelligent child, nutrition for them is well researched and a science in itself. Your child is never too young to start a healthy nutritious routine. In this case, it’s never too early.
Eventually, one phrase will always remain true, “You are what you eat.”
Some practical tips
• To ensure an adequate intake of all the essential nutrients, encourage active children to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.
• Fat reduced, high carbohydrate snacks are the best choice for active children. Such as low-fibre cereal with milk and fruit; a granola bar with curd; chicken sandwich on whole-wheat bread etc.
• Ensure active children maintain a healthy body weight by balancing their energy intake with expenditure
• Encourage them to eat to their appetite which will vary from day to day.
• Take nutritious snacks to sporting events. Self-catering is wiser than relying on local canteens.
• Children can overheat and dehydrate quickly. Offer plenty of fluids before, during and after sport.
• Children don’t often know they are dehydrated, hence compulsive drinking of fluids is mandatory
• If parents or coaches are concerned about their child’s nutrition, seek professional advice from a sports nutritionist and / or sports doctor