Soccer Mom on a (Nutrition) Mission

This is a guest blog post by Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

I really didn’t want to be That Mom. You know who I mean. But the soccer snacks drove me over the edge.

Let me tell you about soccer. The Capri Sun flows like water at soccer. There are Pringles. And Ritz Bits. And Oreos. And cupcakes. Sometimes Oreos and cupcakes.

After two years of watching this parade of processed food march onto the field every Saturday morning, I finally spoke up and became That Mom.

And that’s when things got interesting.

I started by contacting my son’s coach before the season started and expressing my concerns. With his blessing, I emailed the team parents and proposed a fruit-only snack policy. Parents were asked to take turns bringing fresh fruit for after-game snacks, and kids would bring their own water to drink. No juice boxes, no gummy fruit snacks—and if parents wanted to bring chips or cookies, they were asked to keep it off the field. (You can read my letter here.)

Though I braced myself for a revolt, the team parents were unanimously positive. The kids ate every last piece of watermelon I brought after the first game. No one asked, “Where are the cookies?” Nobody complained. In the following weeks, we had bananas, apples, fruit kebabs, and tubs of orange wedges. One mom told me her son was eating strawberries for the first time ever.

All was right in the world.

Or so I naively thought. When some friends of mine approached their own teams with the same snack idea, it was met with outright hostility. “If you want fruit for your kid, bring it yourself,” one was told. The kids deserve their treats, the team parents said. Two of my friends were all but ostracized from the other team moms for suggesting they do away with the Fritos and Kool-Aid.

When I approached the soccer league with my fruit-only policy idea, they said they weren’t in the business of telling coaches and parents what snacks they could and couldn’t bring. When soccer ended and t-ball season began, I approached the league’s board of directors. They hated my idea so much they didn’t even bother voting on it. Who was I to tell parents what was best for their kids, they wanted to know.

I was flummoxed. Was there some kind of confusion about whether oranges wedges and water were actually better for children than Doritos and Blue #2 Fruit Punch? When other parents brought this kind of crap to games every week, weren’t they deciding what was best for my child too? And didn’t leagues have all kinds of other policies and requirements, like shin guards and cleats for every player?

The problem is, it’s not just Doritos at soccer. Kids are getting this kind of junk everywhere they go: in preschool, classrooms, church, clubs. And our kids, the ones washing down cupcakes with day-glo fruit drink at 9am every Saturday, belong to the first generation in modern history not expected to live as long as their parents because of their eating habits.

Because of the way we’re feeding them.

Because our society has invented millions of artificial reasons to celebrate with “special” foods.

Because we’ve programmed them to expect dessert every time they gather in a group or break into a slow jog.

If you’re mad about the state of sports snacks too, talk to your child’s coach before the first practice. I’ve found that having the coach’s support makes all the difference in the world.

What I’ve also discovered: It’s not the children we need to work on—it’s the parents. While the kids seem to accept the absence of Cheez Puffs, the moms and dads take it as a personal affront.

At a recent soccer game one Saturday, I overheard a player talking with her mom. The girl, clutching her post-game snack of juice drink and crackers, had just run over to her mother on the sidelines. The mom looked at her snack and was incredulous. “What, no chips?”

 

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, freelance writer, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. She writes frequently about health and nutrition for consumer magazines such as Parents, Fitness, and Family Circle.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lucia-del-Carmen/568695140 Lucia del Carmen

    I agree, parents should be educated first! afterall they are the ones who give the food to children!

  • Lovey

    We’ve been doing soccer for 10 years now and long ago had to institute a no-snack policy for our daughter. We were horrified at the junk being given. She declines the snack or drink and gets the healthy one that we have brought when we get to the car. The only exception is birthdays – special occasions are for special treats.

    • foodista!

      No, no! Birthdays are for celebrating life. You must not serve poisonous junk food as “treats” in celebration of a birthday if you want to enjoy more birthdays. Eat junk food an die, die, die, die, die!!!

      • Guest

        Seriously?

        Either this is a trolling post, or absolutely define the humorless food nazis that this blog seems to attract around the fringes. 

        “It’s your birthday honey!  Mommy (or in my case, daddy) made you a delicious cupcake facimilie!  It’s brown rice and tofu chunks bound with vital wheat gluten!  I even made a “frosting” with some whipped lentels!”

        “It’s BETTER than a POISONOUS cupcake made with sugar!” 

        • http://twitter.com/DrMomOnline Dr.ColleenTrombley

          Seriously??? (back atcha’!)

          “Food nazis”?? I’m thinkin’ we’ve got that title completely reversed here!! Nazis killed, did they not? Not sure fruit & veggies fall into that category! ; )

      • Kate Heuchera

        Extreme much?

  • Lovey

    We’ve been doing soccer for 10 years now and long ago had to institute a no-snack policy for our daughter. We were horrified at the junk being given. She declines the snack or drink and gets the healthy one that we have brought when we get to the car. The only exception is birthdays – special occasions are for special treats.

  • http://twitter.com/lauren_015 Lauren Smith

    Great guest post.

  • J in VA

    Great post!!

    My daughter almost always takes her own snack everywhere we go. I’m horrified at the junk people show up with. Sometimes even a 2 hour homeschool event can “require” snacks like Little Debbies and Kool Aid! Yesterday, she was with a group that “had” to stop at McD’s–she had a McFlurry (we knew they were going to stop somewherefor a treat)–her comment: the M&Ms were good, the “ice cream” was yucky.

    Many years ago before being a mom, I remember having a discussion with a mom about Vacation Bible School snack. She was horrified that I thought the kids should have water to go with their special cupcake. She brought Kool Aid. (sigh……..)

  • Kristi

    My son is to not take anything after games without my approval.  I bring his own snack and drink for him.  Usually a cheese stick or fruit and larabar (a treat he loves!) and water.  Sometimes I’ll add some natural food coloring I ordered online to his water so it looks fun like the other kids.

    Some parents won’t just bring one snack and a drink.  They bring packs of chips and cookies and crackers and candy.  It’s nuts.  When it’s my turn to bring snack they all get little bottles of water and orange slices.  Once I brought Cliff bars (I know not the best, but better).

    I wish the coaches would just do a bring your own snack rule.  But why do they have to have a snack anyway???  The only reason I bring an alternative for my son is so he won’t feel left out not getting the other stuff.

    • Kate Heuchera

      Larabars are a fairly dense source of nutrition.  While from a ingredient standpoint they may be healthier, they are just as calorie dense as a lot of junk foods we are talking about.

      • Lisa

        It’s much easier to “make up” for a Larabar than a piece of cake, nutritionally. They are dense, but at least they provide healthy fats. They’re high in sugar, though, so I usually have half if I have them.

  • Catherine

    I, too, am horrified at how many opportunities adults take to foist rubbish onto children.  They have the impression that every day is party day!  It is ridiculous and we are robbing our children of the joy of really savoring the flavour of the first sweet crisp apple of the season and many other natural flavours that are way more complex and satisfying than the mega sugar rush.  Great guest post and may all of us become THAT Mum/Dad until it is the norm.

    • Lisa

      Man, I love crisp apples, even now. If I could eat nothing but apples all day, I’d do it.

  • Susan of LittleLadiesWhoLunch

    Bravo!

  • Shea

    I really agree with your post. Parents should be educated on what is healthy and what is not so they can educate their children. Nutrition should be a required class in junior high, high school and college so there can be some background for good food decisions.

  • Stephanie A Dunn

    I was amazed after my five year olds tball game they got gatoraid and donuts!! I about feel over. I brought in granola bars one day and the kids scoffed at me! I thought I was compromising but apparently it wants good enough. My child is driven by food and I hate it. He sorts m&ms at school, gets lollipops after church, etc etc. it is too much.

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      I’m so annoyed with the Gatorade thing. For the most part, these kids are running around for a total of about 30 minutes. They do not need to supplement with electrolytes! The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended that kids get water instead of sports drinks in most cases. 

  • lisa

    Well, it’s also the nature of the rec league.  Approaching the coach is certainly the best way to go, but the most widespread recreational/community league actually *encourages* snacks at games/halftimes–which is patently ridiculous.  The biggest rec league actually has a league policy that requires snacks.  We think the sport should be it’s own reward, and we’ve found that as the kids age and become more engaged with the sport and move into more focused leagues, they become less interested in the food. When they’re ready to play the sport for real, the snack disappears.  Which is not to contradict all your very good points, but just to point out that the problem is not soccer, it’s the attitude of a rec league. (Many rec. softball leagues work the same way.) Our club soccer teams do not allow ANY snacks at any time at any game or practice–and most especially at halftime.  Kids are there to play the sport. There’s no need for food.

  • Denise Schipani

    Yes! And yes, and yes and YES YES YES. Dirty little secret of soccer parents and class moms and scout leaders and everyone else who deals with kids: we all think it’s the KIDS who can’t get by without “treats,” when it’s the parents who are the pushers. Wrote about the candy-and-junk-in-school issue on my blog, Confessions of a Mean Mommy, recently: http://bit.ly/o6i5rw.

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      YES, totally agree–it’s the parents who are the pushers. And that is a great blog post (I’m going to post it on my Facebook page right now). Thanks!

  • http://redroundorgreen.wordpress.com Redroundorgreen

    What is wrong with us as a society, anyway, that we somehow think children can’t go more than 2 hours at a stretch without some sort of food?  It’s absurd.  I used to be a program coordinator for a very large Girl Scout council, so every weekend, I would have events for literally hundreds of girls.  We’d always have to schedule time out from the 2 or 3 hour program in order to let the girls have their 20 minutes of snack time — never mind that they should have been either a) coming right off of breakfast and heading home to lunch, given the time of day; or b) fresh from lunch and going home in plenty of time to have a midafternoon snack if they really needed one.  Nevertheless, I’d walk around and see huge groups of kids sitting patiently while adults doled out gigantic snacks, many of them including items like SANDWICHES.  Sandwiches???  For snack?  And with a side of fruit snacks and go-gurt?  That’s LUNCH, people.  When did kids become such fragile beings, in need of constant sustenance lest they die of starvation on our very watch?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=641811013 Roxanne Ess

      I appreciate your sentiment, however you may not be aware that 5 small meals a day is actually much healthier and natural for the human metabolism than 3 large meals a day which is an unnatural human invention/societal imposition.  Additionally, people like myself who have high metabolism/low blood sugar, cannot make it from breakfast to lunch without some sort of snack without passing out.

      • momof3

        I agree that dividing meals into more than three sittings in a day is good, but I think the point is that snacks are not snacks in this country, they are full-blown meals.  My preschooler is in school from 8 am to 10:30 am, and the class has [federally required] snack time.  It’s rediculous that they have one at all, but a list of “healthy” snack options was sent home, by request of some parents (who apparently don’t know what is healthy?), that included things like bagels, crackers, etc.  I’m not saying I don’t give these things to my child, but they certainly are not the best option, especially since they could not be more than an hour or two in from when they had breakfast.  I sent in cheese for a snack one day, and my daughter told me that it was supplemented with crackers left from another day.  Apparently, it wasn’t enough.  Not to mention that now the kids are also programmed to ask for a snack after school, before lunch.  I can only pray that they have those kids doing jumping jacks while the sing their ABCs.

        • http://redroundorgreen.wordpress.com Redroundorgreen

          So true!  We have friends whose child is now in half-day Kindergarten, and spends the other half of her day in the district’s “wraparound” day care program.  She gets to the wraparound center at 9 a.m., after having eaten breakfast, and is sat down to a 10 a.m. snack — with mandatory carbs.  She’s fed lunch between 11:30 and 12, then at 12:30 is sent to school.  She’s at school from 12:30 until 2:45 — this is Kindergarten — and halfway through, they break for a snack.  Then back to the wraparound, where there are more snacks as the other kids are scheduled for a break, and home at 5 p.m.  The child, who is supposed to be learning and playing, is spending more of her day eating than doing any other single activity!

        • http://redroundorgreen.wordpress.com Redroundorgreen

          So true!  We have friends whose child is now in half-day Kindergarten, and spends the other half of her day in the district’s “wraparound” day care program.  She gets to the wraparound center at 9 a.m., after having eaten breakfast, and is sat down to a 10 a.m. snack — with mandatory carbs.  She’s fed lunch between 11:30 and 12, then at 12:30 is sent to school.  She’s at school from 12:30 until 2:45 — this is Kindergarten — and halfway through, they break for a snack.  Then back to the wraparound, where there are more snacks as the other kids are scheduled for a break, and home at 5 p.m.  The child, who is supposed to be learning and playing, is spending more of her day eating than doing any other single activity!

        • http://twitter.com/DrMomOnline Dr.ColleenTrombley

          Isn’t it crazy that kids are being taught they *need* grains to accompany their snacks and meals??!! I look forward to a time in the future when the ‘powers-that-be’ finally recognize that grains (yes, even the whole grain ones!) are not a requirement for optimal cellular function… and, in fact, sabotage the health of the vast majority of us! Tasty? Yes. Healthy? Not so fast!

          • http://www.commonsensedesign.net Nigel Gordijk

            Paleo soccer snacks? Count me in! :-)

      • http://redroundorgreen.wordpress.com Redroundorgreen

        I’m actually aware of the five-meals vs. three-meals movement, and there are arguments on both sides, in fact.  I don’t agree with either as being the single BEST way for any individual human being.  Also, it should be pointed out that a case such as yours — passing out without a snack — is the exception, not the rule.  I think anyone would be happy to allow a child who has such a medical concern to have a small, appropriate snack as needed, without having stop every activity that children are involved in — be it soccer, Girl Scouts, story hour, etc., etc. — to feed (and usually overfeed) the entire group.

      • http://redroundorgreen.wordpress.com Redroundorgreen

        I’m actually aware of the five-meals vs. three-meals movement, and there are arguments on both sides, in fact.  I don’t agree with either as being the single BEST way for any individual human being.  Also, it should be pointed out that a case such as yours — passing out without a snack — is the exception, not the rule.  I think anyone would be happy to allow a child who has such a medical concern to have a small, appropriate snack as needed, without having stop every activity that children are involved in — be it soccer, Girl Scouts, story hour, etc., etc. — to feed (and usually overfeed) the entire group.

      • http://twitter.com/DrMomOnline Dr.ColleenTrombley

        Yes, “FUELING up” every 2-3 hours (with a balance of clean protein, fresh fiber, and natural fats) is ideal… not “FILLING up” with whatever toxic, refined, synthetic garbage is readily available, cheapest and/or most convenient. Food is fuel, not filler. We’ve lost sight of that. We’re teaching kids that they ‘deserve’ a toxic ‘treat’ because… oh, heck… just because they did something “special”… you know, like *move* or other completely normal human activities! ; )

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XWHTVMFWPZVD2LYWEM5JSK5BD4 firefly069

      Children do need to nibble every couple of hours. Some more than others. Children burn an amazing amount of energy, whether from running around or using their brains, which comes from meals & snacks. My son, when home, will eat his breakfast around 8, he then asks for a snack around 10:30 – usually an apple, or something tasty and small, lunch around 12, a snack again around 3 and dinner around 6. I have no problem with the snack breaks so long as the snack is truly that, small and done in a few bites. The last thing you want in class is a cranky kid because all he needs is a small nibble to keep the blood sugar up. When brains are actively processing information – math, reading, thinking, testing – it uses a lot of blood sugar. My son gets cranky when he’s missed snack time and then by the time lunch rolls around, you have a problem: the kids doesn’t listen well, is fidgety and forgets easily. Our school has the parents send in the class room snack. Unfortunately, the one thing I would prefer to send in, I can’t: almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts. Because of peanut allergies, I cannot send them into the class room. 

  • Beth Goodman

    Right on sister!  I was “that mom” too.  Thank you, and all others who will stand up and speak to this.  After all, playing sports together is not a reason, win or lose, to knowingly poison our children.  Nor is it reason to say with our actions, “you’ve done something good for yourself now you can celebrate by giving your body things that aren’t.”

  • DJ

    There is another option – eliminate the post game snacks.   We did this with both our boys.  After minor complaining the first game neither they nor any of their teammates missed the snack, and parents greatly appreciated not having to bring them.   This had the upside of whenever someone wanted to celebrate something such as a birthday or last game of the season a cupcake was a special treat not an expectation.    

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      I agree, DJ. Kids certainly don’t need a snack after a 45-minute soccer or t-ball game. And I would support a coach that eliminated the snack entirely. But I also thought fruit was a good compromise since most children don’t get enough anyway. Fruit is also a nice refreshing treat in the summer and it does feel like a “treat” to the kids.

  • Jen1122

    Thank you for posting this!! My culdesac hands out “treats” to the kids on a weekly basis when we’re all outdoors, I’m the only one who CRINGES at the Blue Koolaid pouches and needless junk. I always send my 3 year old out with his OWN snack and water! Sometimes its good to hear I’m not the only “that mom”

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      Ugh, the ubiquitous juice pouches!!!!!

  • Monica

    I now live with the adult product of these children. He was a soccer player throughout his whole life and now at 25 I have finally gotten him to eat primarily legitimate food.  This does not stop him from buying a jar of marshmallow fluff when I send him to the grocery store to pick up an ingredient for dinner.  Children who are fed junk like this are going to grow up to be adults who eat junk too.  Hopefully they don’t have any children to pass along their bad habits to.  It’s a lot easier to instill good behaviors at a young age than to correct them in adults.

  • Evab

    This couldn’t be more true.  The snack moms are bullies, how dare we disagree with garbage fed to our kids?  Why can’t we let them just be kids… and on and on…

    My favorite is “it’s a treat” or “it’s only sometimes”  Every event, every outing soccer, swim, parties, playdates is littered with food.  It’s inescapable.  

    Nice post, wish the people who needed to read this would read it, but I doubt it!

    • Realmomnutrition

      I agree that it can feel like bullying–that’s what some of my friends have experienced when they made the suggestion for healthier stuff. Not sure why parents are getting so hot under the collar about this. And you’re right–it’s not “just soccer” it’s everywhere! And since sports are supposed to be about wellness and health, why not have the snacks also reflect that?

  • http://www.justtherightbyte.com Jill Castle

    Great post, Sally. The sports snack thing is out of control. The AAP recommends only water now, because of the obesity epidemic and the over- and misuse of sports drinks…even for children who are heavy exercisers. Younger kids don’t even need a snack at all, especially if they are having meals/snacks every 3-4 hours, but fruit is a good, healthy option if they do want to eat–but the “programming to eat” that goes along with offering a snack after exercise is a whole other topic!
    I experienced a negative reaction when helping a school adopt healthier menu items and proper portions–parents accused me of “starving their child!”–it is always interesting to try to find where people are coming from when it comes to these reactions…and it is important, I think, to understand their point of view. These views are a real barrier.

  • Cmthomas66

    Unfortunately, it’s not only in sports…now it’s invaded Sunday School and confirmation classes on Wednesday nights too…..they “reward” (bribe?) the kids to come with junk….yes, they are feeding the soul, but what are they feeding the bodies?

  • Perrymonaco

    I agree with this but think you can make more of an impact bringing healthy things for your child and opting out of a team “treat”.  I just do not let my child have it and then give him something different.  It is not your place to say anything about what others are choosing to give their children. 

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      I understand your point, but when a parent brings Doritos and Capri Sun for the whole team, they are choosing what to give *my* child as well as all of the other children–not just their own.

      • http://twitter.com/DrMomOnline Dr.ColleenTrombley

        Exactly. It’s NO *other* parents’ place to decide what’s *best* for our children. Junk food or healthy food. Up to each parent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=716195453 Laura Contreras Cole

    Luckily, as the coach, I was able to decide what were acceptable halftime and post-game snacks for my team and without a single complaint.  Even at our team party, no one complained when I asked for fruit or fruit salad instead of cupcakes or other yuck (we were undefeated though, so they liked & respected me).  ;)

    Out of the three other players in my little family, only one other team had a similar policy of fruit and [coconut] water only, and the eldest was lucky if she got a snack at all.  But, one kid got the hoard of crud.When it was my turn to bring snacks for that partic kid—the very last game, mind you—all her teammates turned their noses up to my basket and instead we walked away munching on berries and almonds, while they whined for Oreos and Red 40.  You’d think I had offered them dung.Keep speaking up.  Keep educating.  Things do change … a little.

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      Good for you, Laura. So glad to hear that a coach is setting a healthy example. In my experience, the team parents really respond when the snack policy or suggestion comes down from the coach. When it comes from a regular ol’ mom or dad, it’s somehow viewed as snobby advice.

  • Tmannelly

    AMEN!!!!! This has been so frustrating for me the past few years! I am the ‘weird’ mom that gave out grapes and water. Why does my five year old need to be taught that she gets a donut and a Capri sun after 40 min of soccer at 10 am. It is absurd. Your post is exactly what has been going on on my head all year long!!!

  • Carlagolden

    Amen and kudos. Thank you!!!

  • Stephanie Miller

    Thank you for posting this! I’m “that mom” in my son’s kindergarten class and unfortunately nobody has really gotten on board with the healthy snacks. I haven’t proposed a fruit-only policy, but I’ve chatted with some other moms about it and they will say at the time of our conversation they want to send healthier snacks but when their child’s turn to bring snack rolls around it’s the same junk as usual.   My son is the only one who brings his own healthy snack and I feel guilty about him watching the other kids enjoy the chips & cookies that are provided to the whole class, but I can’t in good conscience let him eat Twinkies and drink caprisun every day, on top of the candy his teacher gives him for “prizes” and the popsicles he gets from the cafeteria. The cafeteria food is another story entirely (he’s often the only kid in his class to bring his own lunch and begs to buy from the cafeteria). 

  • Dalai Lina

    I completely agree with you and wrote about it myself here http://dalailina.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/snack-hating-soccer-mom/  

    Unfortunately, no one like to be told how to parent, so mandating what kinds of food can be served falls flat.  I always propose NO SNACKS.  Then everyone can make their own choices and you save the moms work and money!

  • Elizabeth

    You are taking on a tough road but a very necessary one.  Stick to your guns (or should I say “fruits”).  You have your head on straight and are doing a great service to those kids.  

  • soccermomforpeace

      kids need good crabs after a game, like bagels, popcorn, or pretzels along with fruit. Kids are very hungry after playing and they expand so much energy, they really need to replenish with healthy food. When my son first started playing soccer, I was shocked at what other parents were bringing for snack! There were a few parents that were on bored and then I sent links that had meal and snack plans that were devoted for the soccer player.  I give my son an Orgain nutritional shake and a bagel after his games and he has oranges and/or coconut water at half time. And the night before he loads up on good carbs and lean protein. 

    • Lisa

      Crabs? Aren’t they a little young for that? ;)

  • soccermomforpeace

    As the kids get older, I think the group snack is eliminated. But their games are longer and more intense and they still need some fruit at half time and something nourishing after the games. we have eliminated the group snack but now parents forget to bring something for their kid and some of them are drained at half time and for the rest of the game and starved after. At a recent tournament I ended up having share all the fruit and popcorn I brought between games with some of the kids because their parents did nor bring anything. A tablespoon of honey is a good half time pick me up.

  • Carol

    I have to comment. My girls were in synchronized swimming which involved trips that were an hour or two away, sometimes overnight. Well, after a bus ride in which at least five girls threw up on all the junk food the coaches fed them, the parents all got together and planned healthy food. We brought icechests full of carrots instead of those pringles, turkey sandwiches instead of mcdonalds, water instead of those capri suns.  When we ate dinner out, we made sure they were taken to a healthy place.  The coaches were just too busy to worry about food and fast food and junk is the easiest.  I was really lucky enough other parents agreed so we could help each other. This was 20 years ago. I am now past all that, but boy, is it vivid!!! You brought it all back!!

  • Tggilbert

    Adults have to step up and take charge here.. adults are contributing to this issue of poor nutritional intake of our kids. It is clear that children (of all sizes and shapes) are lacking in fruits, vegetables and dairy products and snacks are junk foods. Little tummies need healthy snacks so they can get their calcium, vitamins/minerals for future bone health and more. Kids will come along if the parents would just get it. I feel like the odd woman out if I bring a nice, healthy snack and fear being made fun of. But, I will try this next season and if it doesn’t work bring my own after game snack. I agree, often our after game snacks were right before lunch or dinner anyway! They were always junk. Love the post and exactly how I feel! Way to go! IF schools are changing their lunches and no sodas in schools, why wouldn’t the sports leagues follow – need to include them in the policy changes!

  • Bob

    That’s why the number of fat kids in this country is thru the roof. I can probably say that a high percentage of the parents opposed to healthy snacks are a bunch of fat arses as well.

  • Real Food For Kids

    I love this! I tried to peacefully say we did not need to provide snacks for my daughter’s soccer team this year, and I was completely shot down. They are 14 years old! I can’t understand why the girls themselves can’t be responsible for their own drink – water – for the game. And do they really need a snack right away? If so, bring what is appropriate for your own child. Better yet, let the child make a good choice. 

    I am a parent in Fairfax County, VA. We have started a grass-roots effort to improve school food in our county. It is truly like climbing a steel wall. But we are determined to get healthier food for our children! 

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      Ha! “Climbing a steel wall”–that is what this has felt like for me in some ways. And yes, the drink issue! Why do the kids  need a separate drink in addition to water? If they’re going to be served some kind of crappy snack, can’t they at least wash it down with plain water instead of fruit punch?

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  • http://twitter.com/eatdinner Grace Freedman

    Great article and very interesting comments. I think the after game snack should just be done away with entirely. It is not needed! My kids have always run track, so I never had to personally deal with this soccer/bball phenomenon. Why can’t each family just bring their own, if even needed? Why do you need a “party” or “treat” after every expense of physical activity? At track, our coach (from Trinidad) always says “bring your fruits”. Fruit and water, maybe coconut water, are the only things allowed after workout, which tends to be more like a hour and a half or more of physical activity, not a mere 30 minutes. 

  • http://twitter.com/eatdinner Grace Freedman

    Great article and very interesting comments. I think the after game snack should just be done away with entirely. It is not needed! My kids have always run track, so I never had to personally deal with this soccer/bball phenomenon. Why can’t each family just bring their own, if even needed? Why do you need a “party” or “treat” after every expense of physical activity? At track, our coach (from Trinidad) always says “bring your fruits”. Fruit and water, maybe coconut water, are the only things allowed after workout, which tends to be more like a hour and a half of physical activity, not a mere 30 minutes. 

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  • Lisa

    I’m glad I escaped the childhood obesity epidemic. When I was growing up, there were always “the fat kids” in our class, and we called them that because they were a rarity. The majority of the kids were healthy weights, and if you weren’t, you were easily identified. As a result, I don’t think we ever had to worry about having cake at birthdays or cupcakes if someone’s mom brought them to school. We were the last generation that played outdoors, had pool parties, and worked off all that sugary energy. 

    Not that you can eat crap and work it off, but the problem here isn’t really the food, it’s the frequency. I cringe at some of the stuff I ate as a kid… in addition to the healthy stuff (that today’s kids probably don’t know about)… but it didn’t kill me. I didn’t gain weight or have health problems. I hate the term moderation, but I think if we had a better idea of what moderation was, we’d be able to help our kids be healthier for life.

  • http://twitter.com/EatWholeBeVital Jayda Siggers

    I brought oranges for an after soccer snack and was met with “I don’t like oranges…don’t worry we have fish crackers in the car”. But it was okay for other parents to offer my kid freezies, ugh. I like the idea of approaching the coach. i will definitely do that next season.

    • http://twitter.com/DrMomOnline Dr.ColleenTrombley

      I KNOW!!! Why on earth is it OK for other parents/coaches/teachers, etc. to feed OUR kids (known) toxic garbage… but *we’re* the bad guys for bringing “healthy” food??!! Crazy.

      • Sally Kuzemchak

        I know, I’m not entirely sure where the hostility is coming from with parents. It may be that parents feel we’re criticizing their choices when we suggest a change. But I hate the attitude that I’m somehow “taking the fun out of it” when I bring fruit. As a society, I’m pretty sure we’ve had enough “fun” with high-sugar, high-fat, high-sodium processed food.

  • http://twitter.com/DrMomOnline Dr.ColleenTrombley

    Sally – we were apparently separated at birth! I know EXACTLY how you feel! Other parents at soccer, swimming, dance, school (when we *used to* go to a school outside our home!), track, hockey, even church, look at me like I’ve got at least 2 heads when I ask that we (parents) don’t provide toxic, health-sabotaging “treats” to the kids!!! How can something that subtracts from our health be called a “treat” anyway?? Backwards. No wonder chronic illness in ALL age groups is on an exponential rise in recent years!

    Keep up the fight, sista’! You are not alone!

    • Sally Kuzemchak

      Yes, I’m not sure why parents are made to feel bad or like, as another commenter said, “food nazis” when they provide something like apples instead of gummy fruit snacks. To my kids, fresh red raspberries in the summer or picking apples in the fall ARE treats. But we also go out for ice cream occasionally or have homebaked pies and cookies sometimes too. Those are treat too. What I’m tired of are the hyper-processed food-like snacks kids are given everywhere. Kids are growing up thinking that THOSE items are what food should look and taste like. And that is very sad.

  • Kate Heuchera

    I think parents on both sides of the debate can be bullies.  I think we definitely need to be more aware of healthy eating.  However, in some of these debates it seems some parents want to censor and legislate the experience of all children.  If you don’t want you child to eat xyz food…then tell him he cannot eat it.

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  • http://rosemaryevergreen.blogspot.com Rosemary Evergreen

    I agree completely.
    I hate that junk food everywhere puts me in the position of saying “no” all the time, and puts my child in the position of deciding whether to eat that tasty, addictive sugar+fat+salt.  We’ve been to activities where someone brings a junky snack even when it ends right at a meal time!

    I agree that “no snacks” is the best policy.  Let everyone follow their own priorities.

  • Liz – Meal Makeover Mom

    Sally, I support your efforts. As we discussed a few months ago, in my community of Lexington, MA the soccer program opted for a “fruit and water” only policy, thus eliminating all that junk food at soccer. I also wrote “a letter to the editor” of my local newspaper voicing my concern about all the junk food on the playing field. I called it, “Bring Back the Oranges, Please.” Yes, there was once a time not too long ago when parents actually brought oranges and nothing more. Hang in there. I think a letter to the editor (written perhaps with a coach or two) might help to sway public opinion in the direction of better nutrition. 

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  • Coach Mike

    I coached U7 girls this season. Here’s the note I emailed to the team parents and posted on the Snack Schedule webpage before the start of the season.  No comments from anyone one way or the other – at least none that made their way back to me.
    Snack Parent for a given game should provide a small, simple, healthy snack (sliced fruit, granola bars, etc) for the players at halftime. NOTE: Please do not provide a post-game snack for the team.  After game ‘snacks’ are typically comprised of cookies, candy, or other sweets.  Soccer is an important part of the promotion of an active, healthy lifestyle for our kids.  Let’s avoid creating the perception that participation in sports should lead to the ‘reward’ of processed sugar treats.  A healthy halftime snack is adequate and appropriate for Snack Parent support.  Thanks. – Coach Mike

  • Kymgpeck

    Yaaaay, Sally!   I tired with the t-ball team and was met with resistance, too. COuldn’t make it happen.  THe lady who runs the snack bar got PISSED at me when I asked if they could add some healthy snax and fruit at the sack bar.  It is an uphill fight, but worth the effort!  I will use your letter this year if you don’t mind?

  • ShannoninSoCal

    I think I love you.  I can’t even get started on this topic because I can feel my blood pressure riising and kind of bursting into my brain. 

  • http://twitter.com/GiryaGirl Adrienne Harvey

    I don’t have children, but I see what’s being given to kids – and it drives me UP the WALL!!!   Since these are child athletes, wouldn’t this be a great opportunity to learn how athletes on a competitive team should eat to help them play better and feel better?

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  • Jswayner

    I share your passion! I was the first mom approached for snack sign up for basketball and I shared the same opinion and concerns. The coaches wife said, “I am so glad I talked to you first! We don’t need any more SNACKS! Forget it we’re not doing it!”  I never heard a child or parent complaint.

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  • Deidre

    I just suggested “no goodie bags” for our U10 AYSO kids. The team mom had a heart attack and explained that she’d been doing this for 20 years and this is the first she heard this suggestion. Fortunately for me, the coach, who was against my idea, decided to let us vote on it. No goodie bags won 5-3 at this meeting! Now I will suggest parents bring their “own” half time fruit for their “own” kid. Time to change the culture surrounding youth sports! Kudos to you and this blog! I wll be a faithful reader!

  • kathleen

    Gotta question. I recently gave my grandson a few slices of kiwi during a water break. I was immediately chastised. (saying that nicely). I realized that I should have waited till the game was over. (10 min. left) Is it true that this could have made him throw up and choke? sounds a bit extream, but I didn’t know.

    • Coach Mike

      Unless you are a player or a member of the team staff, you should not be on the team side of the field during a game but I suppose that’s a discussion on league policy. If the grandson doesn’t have some sort of kiwi allergy, it’s not going to bother him at all to have a little during a game. That said, it is worth noting that your feeding effort was entirely unnecessary and provided no physical benefit whatsoever in the following ten minutes.

  • Miramonte

    late post but couldn’t agree more. I am a pediatric nurse practitioner and I even get grief from colleagues at work for trying to feed my kids healthy. It’s not like I never give my kids treats like cookies, ice cream, etc., but once they enter school age, you realize they are being offered junk at every turn. It is crazy. I have stuck to my guns and somewhat made fun of myself in the face of the criticism but firmly educated (trying with judgment which is difficult) to say what I know about the effects of sugar, coloring and dye on their health.

  • http://twitter.com/sign4baby Joann Woolley

    I am SO becoming THAT mom! I’ve had this discussion with my husband many times. Doesn’t it seem ironic that part of the reason we sign our kids up for soccer and t-ball is the health benefits of being active? Shouldn’t it just go arm in arm with healthy food choices? I’d think the parents would be glad that the owness was OFF them – they surely can’t help it that there is a “policy” of fruits only after games just in case you have that ONE kid who will say something. The soccer season is almost over, but I’m tackling this next softball and t-ball season. Thank you for giving us soccer moms some ideas on how to approach it!

  • Fellow RD (MS,RD,CSP,CLC,LD)

    Interestingly, if you look at the research, chocolate milk is an excellent post-exercise snack for kids and it also is “sweetened.” Children need to be taught to make good choices and putting a ban on certain foods is not always the way to do it.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      No it is not.

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  • Gabby

    Thank you for this article and your concerns! I am a Holistic Nutritional Consultant and I feel your pain! As a parent myself, I just feel very frustrated with the lack of education in people about solid good snacks for their children.

  • Greta

    Last year we ran into this problem with our boys’ soccer teams. This year however, their league has laid out a new “healthy snack” policy and actually offered parents a registration discount if they signed a healthy snack agreement! This policy was re-enforced by the coaches at the first practice when they passed around the snack sign up sheet as well! It was great!

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      Greta – this is awesome! Any change you can get a copy of that healthy snack policy for us?

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