Ditch the chips and cookies and bring these healthier team snacks to your child’s game instead.
When I signed up my son for soccer six years ago, I had no idea there would be so much junk food involved. After a season of watching cupcakes, cookies, chips, and cherry punch dominate the sidelines after games, I was frustrated. And confused. Why was a soccer game a reason to give kids donuts and Kool-Aid? Why were we associating sports with junk food? And was I the only one who was irritated by this, especially since our games took place on Saturday morning—right before lunch?
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The next season I approached our new coach, expressed my concern with the junk food I was seeing, and asked if we could do fruit and water for our team snacks. He enthusiastically agreed and said he was so glad someone finally spoke up about it.
Now I help parents around the country create a healthier team snack culture in their communities. I have sample coach and team emails, snack lists, and other free resources in my Sports Snacktivism Handbook.
Though nixing the team snack completely does simplify things, some coaches enjoy a shared post-game snack. So in those cases, I advocate for fruit (or veggies) and water. They’re hydrating, easy, nutritious, and most kids don’t get nearly enough of them each day. Fresh fruit and veggies are usually safe for children with food allergies. Plus, kids can eat the snack and still have room for the lunch or dinner they’re going home to.
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Here are 10 ideas:
- Orange slices: The classic! They’re super-hydrating and sweet to eat. Cut up a bunch, toss them in a container, and let the team have at it.
- Bananas: Couldn’t be simpler—or cheaper! You can feed the whole team for less than $5.
- Apples: Just rinse them off and bring them to the field.
- Fruit kebabs: These are always a hit with kids. Thread berries, bananas, melon, and grapes onto wooden skewers.
- Watermelon slices: It’s the perfect fruit for a hot afternoon of baseball or soccer.
- Mango “hedgehogs”: Sweet and fun and kids love the name. (Here’s how to make them!)
- Cups of berries: Fill paper cups with rinsed berries. When I bring these to the field, many kids ask for seconds and thirds.
- Mini boxes of raisins: Unlike a lot of packaged dried fruit, raisins have no added sugar.
- Small bags of carrots: Look for these individual bags of baby carrots in the produce aisle. They’re a veggie that lots of kids tend to like.
- Clementines: Too busy to cut up oranges? Grab a bag or two of clementines. They’re sweet and portable and easy for little kids to peel themselves.
Get a free printable with 20 healthy team snack ideas here. Use it when it’s your turn to bring the snack. Or pass it along to team parents, coaches, and league directors.
What kinds of team snacks do you see on the sidelines in your community?
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. She collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. In her spare time, she loads and unloads the dishwasher. Then loads it again.