Snacks. You want one right now. You wanted one 10 minutes ago, and you’ll want one again in half an hour. It’s what we turn to when we are bored or anxious; excited or happy; at a party or … you know the feeling.
What about when snacks are a necessity – for example when you have kids who are always on the go, serious athletes who need fuel to perform? I have two children, a girl age 14, and a boy, 11. They are both involved in year-round sports, many times more than one sport per season. My daughter is a competitive swimmer and runner. My son swims and plays ball sports. Most days, practice is immediately after school and snacks are an integral part of the routine. It’s a challenge to pack snacks that are appealing while being nutritious and neat enough to eat in the car. I also don’t want to duplicate what they just ate for lunch. I like to have a variety so that they don’t burn out on one thing. I have found several foods that seem to work well:
Snacks for athletes
Greek yogurt tubes: traditional yogurt tubes are loaded with sugar and are not very filling, but the Greek yogurt tubes have less sugar (only 5 grams) and 8 grams of protein! They freeze well, and the kids love them!
Squeeze fruit pouches: how I wish I had these when the kids were babies, but they are super useful now! There are a multitude of brands and flavor combinations. Some have vegetables mixed in and some are just fruit. Most have no added sugar, so make sure to look for those. They are great for after school, sport meets, and the lunchbox. These can be pricey – look for coupons and store specials. Try a few and see which ones your kids prefer.
Peanut butter cracker sandwiches: again, there are several brands of these. The one my kids like best, has 4 grams of protein and only 3 grams of sugar which I like. These are very portable, don’t melt or spoil and come several to a package for easy sharing. Clearly, if you have nut allergies in your family, they wouldn’t work, but otherwise they’re a great snack.
Bottled smoothies: my kids LOVE these, and they freeze well and thaw slowly if you need it to double as an ice pack. Buy in quantity as warehouse stores to avoid the pricey single bottle options. Freezing also extends their shelf-life making large quantities doable. For an adult watching their diet, these smoothies have a LOT of calories for a snack and could quickly sabotage your plans. However, for an active teen, they’re filling, have a significant amount of vitamins, and a little bit of protein to offset the high sugar content. Keep the smoothies to an occasional snack, since they do contain naturally occurring sugar, and you don’t want your kids in the habit of sugar hits during training.
Trail mix pouches: I love these for snacks! The brand we like has 5 grams of protein with 9 grams of sugar. They are a good mix of nuts, raisins, and chocolate candies. They don’t spoil, and it has to be REALLY hot before they melt. The package is durable so it can ride around in a bag without incident. My kids run hot and cold on the protein bars, and I run hot and cold on soy protein vs whey protein, so the trail mix pouches are a good compromise. Not as much protein as a bar, but you get some beneficial nutrients with the nuts, so that’s a plus. If you’re like my daughter, you eat your trail mix in a hierarchy of “like”, which adds to the fun!
So there is a quick round up of some of our healthy snack choices. A combination of these seems to work for us. I usually throw a few into an old lunch box and let them pick and choose. Go ahead, have a snack!