We’ve all been there. That moment where you’re jolted awake by the sound of an alarm clock buzzing to tell you it’s time to get up. It’s always easier to roll over and grab an extra 15 minutes of precious sleep than it is to carve out time to eat breakfast.
According to Rose Prissel, clinic dietician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., breakfast is one of the biggest challenges facing middle school children.
“Kids are either breakfast eaters or they are not,” Prissel says. “Getting them to start to eat anything is the first step. Getting some carbohydrates in right away in the morning, along with fluids, is important.”
Yet breakfast does not have to be your standard bowl of cereal. If you’re not a big fan of traditional breakfast foods then make yourself a quesadilla, a great source of calcium, or have a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with Swiss cheese.
There is no rule saying you have to eat certain foods for breakfast. The main thing, Prissel says, is that you eat something within those first two hours after waking up, even if it’s against the norm.
“Some kids will do a quesadilla with a little chicken in it, a quick meal to make,” Prissel says. “I have had other kids just really like sandwiches. So we create sandwiches that last fairly well.”
Don’t want to have whole-grain oatmeal (helpful tip: stay away from commercially sweetened ones) or a bagel for breakfast? How about a smoothie? Or what about a slice of pizza?
While Prissel stresses that you shouldn’t have pizza or sandwiches (try and eat lean meats such as chicken or turkey) every morning for breakfast, but they are fun ways to change up your morning routine.
“You shouldn’t have pizza or sandwiches every morning for breakfast, but they are fun ways to change up your morning routine.”
Snackatize Your Locker For Quick Energy
Even with these breakfast ideas, there will be times when you skip out on the most important meal of the day. For just such an occasion, why not “snackatize” your locker with some easy, portable and healthy snacks to grab in between classes or before you hit the ice after school.
Whole grain pretzels, fruit snacks, fresh fruit, trail mix, carrot sticks, plain whole-grain crackers, peanut butter crackers, orange wedges and granola bars are some great starting points.
Katie Miller, a spokesman for the National Strength and Conditioning Association, shared other healthy snack ideas.
“Anything that is portable that doesn’t have to be refrigerated and is ready for them to throw in the backpack, even the night before, are great things,” Miller says.
Other advantages of snackatizing your locker are that once it comes time for practice you can grab something quick to eat. A pre-workout snack is always great to have, says Miller.
“It gets glucose, protein and fats readily going in the bloodstream so the body is more likely to pull from that versus the stores in the body,” Miller says. “It’s just another insurance policy to make sure they’re growing and developing like they should be.”
Don’t Forget To Hydrate Before, During And After Practice
It is always important to drink plenty of water throughout your practices and games. However, you should remember to also get a good intake of fluids such as water, sports drinks and even chocolate milk before and after practices so you can replenish the fluids that you lost, which will aid in recovery.
Rose Prissel says that hydration is one of the biggest challenges facing young athletes.
“The fluids are huge,” Prissel says. “[Kids] normally come into practice dehydrated or needing more hydration so I always encourage them to get something in them.”
The exact amount of fluids a kid needs depends on the child’s size. However Prissel does offer some basic advice.
“In general kids [should] drink a couple of 12 ounces [of water] before they get on the ice,” she says.
“Then I slowly see how they can tolerate it because some kids are more sensitive to it than others.
“If they’re really hesitant I will say go ahead and take three big gulps to get started.”
If water is not necessarily a favorite it is fine to have a sports drink with ice cubes to get some of the carbohydrates needed for practice.
Katie Miller advises that kids can also do a half-and-half of a sports drink combined with fruit juice.
“It wouldn’t be bad for them because you have the calories and carbs there for them to use,” she says.
Then after a long, tough practice Miller says that having chocolate milk is also not a bad idea if a kid likes the way it tastes and can digest it fine.
“It’s an optimal drink to have after practice or a game because it does have the 3-to-1 ratio of carbs to protein,” she says. “It has your electrolytes in there, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium—and it tastes good.”