When you pick your child up from their dance class, are they desperate for a snack?  The chances are high they are.

It is so very hard to keep sugar intake low and not go for the easier (more junky!) snack options.  Especially on the go.  We all do it.  Yet, deep down, we know there are better options out there.  Yes, your child may have just spent an hour burning off a whole heap of energy and yes, a chocolate bar is probably ok (and probably what they want!) but it isn’t going to do a great deal in terms of filling them up or giving them what their body needs after expending so much energy.

What are good post exercise snacks for children?  Well, really, children are not that different to adults, so the kinds of foods you might grab after a run are the kinds of things that will be good for them.  It’s important to understand what their bodies need, so as a guideline, when feeding children throughout a day, they require:

  • Balanced meals: Carbohydrates (45-65% approx), fat (25-30% approx), protein (10-30% approx). Balanced meals should naturally provide around 25 grams + of fibre per day.

  • Vitamin D: Often Doctors recommend a supplement (oral/chew-able or through fortified drinks) as most of us don’t get enough and it is essential for calcium absorption.

  • Calcium: 800mg per day for 3-8 year olds and 1300mg per day for 9-13 year olds.  Don’t just think milk.  Green vegetables like kale and broccoli are wonderful sources.  So too are almonds, beans and soya beans.

  • Zinc: Wonderful for recovery post exercise! It’s found in whole grains and beans.

  • Fruit: Have it whole and fresh (or from frozen).

On to the snacks then!

“On the go” snacks:

  • Mixed nuts (be aware of nut allergies if eating in the company of others)

  • Cubes of cheese

  • Fruit (apple slices, cut grapes, banana)

  • A handful of raisins

“When we’re home” snacks:

  • Half a wheat bagel with almond or peanut butter

  • A sliced banana or apple with peanut butter

  • A homemade fruit smoothie (fruit and your choice of milk)

  • Hummus and veg sticks for dipping

  • Hummus and sliced toasted pitta bread

Of course, go easy on yourself, cheeky treats are fine, a little of what you fancy does you good, everything in moderation and all that.. But it is just that.  Let them have a chocolate bar, just don’t let it become an everyday thing.  Use those groans of “ugh, not that, I want xxx” as a springboard for a discussion on healthy eating and foods that help us.  Your child wants to do well at dance class/football/gymnastics and they want to feel good afterwards.  Discussing how food affects us and how we can boost our ability, performance and recovery using certain food might just help reduce those complaints.. A little!