Insight and education

Parents are often the driving force behind a young athlete's ability to train and compete. They are the bank, the taxi, the nutritionist, you name it! They are integral to the success of British sport.


Jenny Tschiesche from Lunchbox Doctor is a regular presenter at SportsAid's athlete workshops. She gives great nutritional advice to athletes and parents alike. The following is an extract from her website.


It’s hard enough to keep our kids on the straight and narrow as far as healthy eating is concerned. When they start to become very interested in sport and are burning off a huge amount of energy whilst still growing the considerations as far as nutrition are concerned become even more important. We need to work hard to keep our young athletes strong and fit by providing the right nutrients at the right time. It’s also important to limit ingredients that will impede performance. So, here’s my guide to feeding our sporty kids:

Healthy snacks before a game

The build-up to a game is really important. Ideally the food your child eats before a game should be to fuel their bodies with a combination of protein, fibre and carbohydrates one to two hours before an event to ensure a slow release of energy. If they are going to be playing for 60 minutes or less then carbohydrates and fibre should suffice so a banana and some nuts or some wholegrain crackers with high fruit jam should work well.

For longer games or even training sessions of 60 minutes plus add some protein to sustain energy. Yogurt, eggs, cold meats and nut and seed butters are good options.

Avoid fatty foods (these slow digestion too much) and extra-sweet foods such as sweets or fizzy drinks. These cause a spike in blood sugar. If sugar levels then drop quickly during a game, your child could become sluggish or even dizzy.

Pre-game snack suggestions:

  • Granola and yogurt
  • Egg sandwich on wholemeal bread
  • Brown rice and vegetable salad
  • Turkey, chicken or tofu and cherry tomatoes and or cucumber
  • Fruit and nuts or seeds
  • Carrots and hummus

Healthy half-time snacks

During a game, it’s most important to stay hydrated, so keep the water bottles out and available. If kids need a half-time snack make it something easy to grab, eat and digest. Avoid salty foods, since they dehydrate instead of re-hydrating. The best half-time snack choice is fruit, since it contains lots of water and nutrients, and also appeals to kids.

Half-time snack suggestions:

  • Bananas (could cut in half for ease of access)
  • Orange slices
  • Clementines (peeled)
  • Grapes
  • Slices or chunks of melon

Healthy snacks after a game or workout

Immediately following a game, kids need lots of fluids to replace what they’ve lost to perspiration. If they’ve really been sweating and/or it is extremely hot outside, athletes also need sodium and potassium, which is why sports drinks contain these electrolytes. However one of the most effective most sports drinks is in fact coconut water which re-hydrates and provides essential electrolytes.

You can also make your own sports drink using:

  • 200ml high fruit squash
  • 800ml water
  • A pinch of salt

Mix them all together in a jug and cool down in fridge.

Finally, carbohydrates and proteins help kids refuel and re-energize. A game of 60 minutes plus requires a refined carbohydrate or sugary snack, combined with some protein.

Post-game snack suggestions:

  • Nut butter and banana sandwich
  • Bagel with high fruit jam
  • Energy or protein bars.



Get more great tips by heading over to the Lunchbox Doctor blog.