(BPT) - The transition between summer and going back to school can be tough, especially for families with student athletes who are participating in fall sports. Whether your athletes are in high school or grade school, it’s difficult to balance schoolwork, practice, games, proper nutrition and rest. Mitzi Dulan, registered dietitian and nutrition consultant to professional athletes, has some great tips on how to help your child eat adequate, nutritious foods for their best performance in the classroom and on the field.
“As a working mom with two daughters who play volleyball, I understand the time crunch parents are up against to prepare healthy meals and snacks for their kids,” says Dulan. “Young athletes require optimal nutrition for fueling and recovery around practice and games, in addition to a well-balanced diet as growing adults. A little knowledge and planning ahead makes all the difference during busy weeks.”
Here are five tips from Mitzi for busy parents with young athletes:
1. Recover right: Immediately following a practice or competition, help your athlete refuel their muscles to optimize performance the next time they train or compete. Consuming a beverage with carbs and protein within the first 30 minutes is ideal. Chocolate milk has a great ratio of carbs and protein, making it a smart, quick and easy choice to stock up on.
2. Create a go-to grocery list: Get your athlete involved by having them help you create a go-to list of top fueling foods that you can save on your smartphone. Bring your child along for the first grocery trip to get their input and create a list of new options to replace old staples. Keeping this list handy on your smartphone will be helpful to keep their favorite foods stocked at home.
3. Set up fueling stations at home: Organize “fueling stations” with grab-and-go options such as string cheese, chocolate milk, sports drinks, protein balls, honey and more. You can also throw in whole wheat sandwich thins to make one of my favorites — an open-faced sandwich with peanut butter, banana and honey. Also keep a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter, filled with bananas, apples and other fruits. Fruit is great fuel, and kids are more likely to eat it when it’s readily available.
4. Equip yourself with the right tools: Staying connected is essential as a parent. My girls are very involved, which means there are plenty of practices and games to manage, so I rely on my smartphone to maintain it all with calendar and meal planning apps.
5. Get plenty of rest: With a hectic schedule, it’s important to recharge. Sleep is an essential step to the recovery process, and kids need time to hit reset after hitting the books and hitting the field. Make sure your athletes are getting enough sleep and have scheduled down time in between games and practices so they can let their bodies recover and build their energy back up.
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