Playing football requires energy and a healthy body. Good nutrition will help your child maintain their performance, prevent injury and enable them to recover between coaching sessions and games.
The lunchbox challenge
It can be a challenge for parents to regularly come up with different ways to entice children to eat healthily at lunch.
After all, how many Tuna sandwiches can a parent make? Yet the importance of eating healthily, particularly during soccer school, can't be underestimated.
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Meeting the energy demands of football
To ensure your child has enough energy to meet the demands of a holiday soccer school, they should be encouraged to do the following:
Organise their eating and drinking to fit the demands of their soccer school. Large meals should only be consumed at least three hours before playing. This would suggest only eating big meals after soccer school or a large early morning breakfast.
During soccer school, players should eat small amounts of food (eg raisins, sliced fruit, wine gums/sugar sweets) at regular intervals, and ensure they take adequate drinks (eg sports drinks or weak squash).
Reduce the amount of fatty foods eaten to c35% of a child’s total daily diet.
Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates (eg boiled or baked potatoes, cereals, pasta, rice, wholemeal bread, peas and beans, fresh fruit and vegetables). Nuts are also highly recommended but due to increased allergy rates these must only be consumed at home and not brought to soccer school.
Simple carbohydrates found in sugar, chocolate and jams are less nutritious but can supply a quick and valuable source of energy throughout the day.
Maintain a high fluid intake by drinking water or fresh fruit juice, especially before and after playing. This is particularly important as children can consume between 2- 3 litres. If children are thirsty, they are already dehydrating.
Children should refuel after soccer school with glucose-rich carbohydrates (eg baked potatoes, bread, sports drinks, fruit).
The importance of a healthy lunch
Some five million children's lunchboxes are prepared in British homes every weekday, yet a Food Standards Agency survey revealed that three out of four of these were likely to contain foods that were too high in saturated fat, salt or sugar.
The same survey indicated that almost half of these lunches failed to include any fruit. Most, however, did include crisps, chocolate, biscuits, sugary drinks and other heavily processed snacks.
A diet that's high in fat, high in salt, and high in refined carbohydrates diminishes mental alertness, so a child eating these kinds of foods is likely to end up tired towards the end of the day.
Also, a diet high in saturated fat and salt can lay the foundations for heart disease and high blood pressure later in life. Such a diet may also lead to obesity.
For healthy lunchbox menu ideas and tips for a healthy lunchbox you can visit Lunchbox World.