With back to school comes fall sports, which means busy afternoons and evenings and meals on the go.  Today, I want to share some tips for fueling and hydrating for active kids.

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MAKE HEALTHY EATING A PRIORITY

It is very easy to rely on fast food and processed foods. These are very quick and convenient, but by planning ahead, you can make healthy eating possible.

  • Focus on whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds for snacks.
  • Take time to meal plan on the weekend with activities in mind. Meal planning has been shown to keep healthy eating on track, and helps to avoid poor decision making.
  • Make and freeze healthy snacks for on the go, or pre-cut fruit and veggies and have them ready in containers.
  • Sit down to family dinners as much as possible. This not only brings the family unit together, but also encourages healthy habits. Studies have shown that just the act of sitting down to dinner together helps kids to make healthier choices.

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Favorite Kid-Friendly Dinners

Wild salmon burgers
Make your own taco night – tempeh, grass fed beef, chickpea tacos are favorites
Chickpea Burgers 
Dal Makhani
Meatballs and Banza Pasta
Make your Own Pizza
Loaded Nachos
Mediterranean Chicken
Smoothies & Salad
Greek-ish Platter – cucumbers, peppers, carrots olives, feta cheese, pitas, hummus

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Favorite Snacks for on the go

Snacks should be a mixture of protein and complex carbs.   Forget about most energy bars which are usually very high in sugar and artificial ingredients. You can make your own energy balls.

Apples and Peanut Butter
Cut up fruit and nuts
Fruit and plain yogurt (can be with raw honey)
hummus and veggies
Cut up oranges and minimal ingredient or homemade crackers
Homemade trail mix
Energy Balls
Celery/Carrots and peanut butter
Protein Powder + organic oatmeal and nut butter rolled into balls
Lara Bar (minimal ingredients and lots of flavors)
Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Chickpeas

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Containers I love to take with us

Planet Box single serving  – great for a snack
Planet Box meal/large snack box – great for a day of sports
LunchBots Quad – great for a larger snack and separating compartments
LunchBots Circular – great for cut up fruit
Huge Stainless Steel Thermos – keeps water cold!

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THE TROUBLE WITH PROCESSED FOODS

Processed foods are loaded with sodium and artificial flavors for taste and to mask the flavors of chemical additives. It is estimated that 90% of food consumed in the U.S. is processed food.

Processed foods not only undermine our feeling of being full. Some of the sweeteners used in processed foods, such as high fructose corn syrup, go through unabsorbed, so no signal is sent to the brain to tell you that you’ve had enough.  This is a major way that processed foods cause weight gain.  Additionally, processed foods mess with our taste buds, and after eating them consistently, you may require higher levels of flavor to have the same level of satisfaction. Being made in a lab, food scientists aim to make these foods addictive by the flavors and additives they put into the recipe, making it harder to stop eating them.  Getting rid of processed foods in your diet and home is a huge step towards better health.

KIDS ONLY NEED WATER

Juice, sports drinks and other fruity drinks have no place in a child’s diet. Sports drinks are designed for intense exercise over one hour.  Even when (older) children are exercising at higher intensities, salt and electrolytes can be replenished in ways other than drinking sports drinks, most which again contain artificial colors and flavors as well as chemicals.  Check out Food Babe’s post on Gatorade and ideas for replenishment including celery, apple and lemon juiced or sea salt, baking soda, lemon juice and maple syrup in 8 ounces of water.  Another one that is helpful is a handful of salted pretzels and coconut water.   Juice has an unnecessary amount of sugar and is not filling, so it ends up being empty calories.  Choose a whole fruit over a cup of juice.

Do you have tips for keeping your family healthy when juggling all different sports schedules? Comment below!
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