TIPS TO REMEMBER WHEN FEEDING YOUR GROWING HOCKEY PLAYER
When it comes to nourishing young sportswomen and ensuring they have enough energy for a long day of both school and sport, it is very different to that of feeding adults. Children have their own set of nutritional needs in order to maintain optimum health.
When thinking of what foods to prepare for your child, the most important things to keep in mind are hydration and blood-sugar levels. Here are a few tips to ensure she is ready for hockey practice and feels great throughout the day.
Essential nutrition tips for young sportswomen:
- Most importantly, your child needs plenty of water, particularly during the summer months. If not hydrated, heat stroke is a common problem among children who play sport. On average, the following amounts of water should be consumed per day:
- Aged 5 to 8 – 5 glasses per day (1 litre)
- Aged 9 to 12 – 7 glasses per day (1.5 litres)
- Aged 13 and older – 8 to 10 glasses per day (2 litres)
Please note that when playing sport or on hot days, children need to drink their daily average and more to stay hydrated.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and essential for your daughter’s concentration levels during the day. It can be difficult to get your child eating at the table in the morning and the best solution is a smoothie breakfast that they can drink on their way to school.
- Fibre and protein are essential to keep your daughter’s energy levels sustained. However; when getting fibre into your daughter’s diet, not just any carbohydrate will do; wholegrain carbohydrates contain the most fibre. When used in combination, as a snack or in a meal, carbohydrates are released slowly and blood-glucose levels (energy) is kept constant. We have provided you with a list below to ensure you make the right fibre-protein snack and meal combinations.
- Vegetables – preferably those rich in colour
- Breakfast cereals – low in sugar eg oats
- Wholegrain pastas, bread, rice or other grains
- Seeds and nuts
- Legumes – beans, peas, lentils
- Lean meat
- Sugar intake. Our brains are fuelled by blood-sugar or glucose. Having the right fibre-protein combination, as in the point above, will certainly help feed the brain throughout the day; however, if too much sugar is eaten it can also affect your daughter negatively. The important thing to monitor is how much sugar your daughter is eating; too much and she may be hyperactive, too little and she will feel tired, dizzy, irritable and anxious. As a rule of thumb, anything with – “ose” at the end should be avoided.
- Caffeine disrupts blood-sugar balance, is an appetite suppressant and disrupts sleeping patterns. The worst stimulants are coffee, tea, energy drinks, sodas and chocolate products. In addition, many of these stimulants contain high levels of sugar. Try to stick to low-sugar, caffeine-free drinks like rooibos or green tea.
Understanding your daughter’s delicate sugar balance is the key to managing her performance during the day. As she gets older, teach her how to manage her blood-sugar levels – a valuable life skill many adults have yet to master.