A few months back I compiled a list of healthier game day snacks for kids that play sports. You can read about it here to catch up and recap. This blog entry is a follow-up post with our first experience in group sports involving snacks. I had a feeling there would be a lot of processed items making an appearance but I remained optimistic to see if there were going to be some healthier snacks too. Sadly, every single game was ended with highly processed packages of crackers, cookies, and super sugary dyed drinks. The only game there was actually real food afterward was provided by us that consisted of little bags of sliced apples. I was hesitant doing this blog entry because I realize this is a hot topic for many. This post is not intended to parent shame in any way, but to simply raise awareness in what exactly is going into our children’s bodies and the health risk associated with it. I have met many parents who strive to make healthier decisions in this area but simply do not know where to start. I truly hope this insight on reading labels and ingredient lists is helpful for you! Plus I have some tips on how we can handle these situations going forward and how you can help clean-up sidelines!
Below are some of the snacks my child received after each game. Each photo has a further explanation of breaking down the actual ingredients on the label and the risks each ingredient poses. Below them are some much cleaner and healthier alternatives to look out for to make a healthier swap!
There are so many ingredients on this label for Quaker Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola bars. I will point out the main hazards which is pretty much the entire bar! The main thing that startles me is the number of multiple sugars listed on the label. Manufacturers add several different types of sugar in order to make the sugar appear lower in the ingredient list. These contain artificial sweeteners and flavors which are both linked to a number of health issues, especially in children. BHT is an additive used to preserve oils and fats in processed foods which is harmful to your body. I also see several highly processed oils such as corn syrup x 2, corn syrup solids, soybean oil, and palm oil. Caramel coloring is highly processed and is made industrially by mixing sugar with ammonia and sulfites (both extremely toxic). In California, caramel coloring is actually labeled as a potential cancer-causing agent!
Basically, this entire bar along with all above packaged snacks, are so highly processed there is absolutely no nutritional value in them. Many of the ingredients in these packages are required to increase the shelf life of the product and improve the flavor that disappears when food is not fresh. Not to mention you will most likely gain several new words to add to your vocabulary from the ingredient lists!
Now that we have seen the ingredients and potential side effects in highly processed packages of food and what we want to avoid, we can look at some cleaner options below! Most of these you can find at your common local grocery store but I have still linked them for you too. These are also great options for classroom parties, and/or any events where children are being fed snack foods, and some quick options to have in your home pantry!
Packaged Crackers/ Cookies
Tips for for Healthier Team Snacks!
1.My first option/opinion would be to ditch the snacks altogether. Like I mentioned in the Game Day Snacks original post, I can provide my own children with snacks. Also, I don’t find running around for 40 minutes is a reason to eat snacks anyways. I would prefer they didn’t have it as an option in the first place. I think it is best to let everyone have their own choice as far as what their kids are eating.
2.Contact the coach to discuss. I wish I would have done this the very first practice when snacks were even mentioned. I was really excited when he suggested that orange slices and fresh fruit would be refreshing for the kids, but no one else besides myself provided any, bummer! Contacting the coach is the best option versus saying something to the parents yourself. Coaches can convey the message in a pleasant tone and parents are more likely to respond in a more positive manner.
3.Set an example. Maybe you can try to sign up at the very beginning to set an example for other parents while providing healthy, real food snacks. They might gain some good ideas and inspiration from what you bring!
4. Lastly, always be kind. Keep in mind these parents and kids are there to have fun and interact in a fun environment. We don’t want to hurt feelings or make a big deal about anything. What we feed our kids is a personal decision and parents can take it personally if we are talking about it. My best advice is graciously to accept the snacks, say thank you, and then you can choose what to do with them afterward. I was extremely proud of my four-year-old for using such good manners after each game!