Keeping sporty kids fuelled, hydrated and energetic during carnivals or tournaments can be a challenge, particularly if they are participating in multiple events over the day, or over consecutive days. Without the right nutrition, active children can get tired quickly, reducing not only their performance but also their enjoyment of the event. Here are a few tips to avoid tired, ‘hangry’ kids on carnival day.
1. Encourage small amounts often
To avoid big dips in energy levels it’s important to eat regularly throughout the day. Snacking on light, easy to digest foods every couple of hours will help to keep active kids well fuelled and energised. Nutritious carbohydrate rich foods are ideal for topping up energy levels throughout the day – for example:
Sandwiches – keep them simple & avoid soggy fillings
Fresh fruit – especially if chopped up for easy eating
Wholegrain muesli bars
Fruit and nut bars
Fruit bread/hot cross buns
Rice cakes with peanut butter or avocado
Dried fruit – banana chips, apricots, dates, sultanas
Homemade fruit muffins
Yoghurt – pouches are ideal for eating on the go, without need for a spoon
Tuna and rice snack packs
Cheese and crackers
2. Think bite sized!
On busy carnival days there can be little time to stop and eat something substantial, particularly for children participating in multiple events over the day. Cutting foods into bite size pieces will make it easier for them (and you!) to grab a couple of pieces at a time to keep up energy supplies over the day.
3. Try nutritious liquids for nervous tummies
Liquid foods like fruit smoothies, yoghurt and flavoured milk can be good options for kids who struggle with nerves or poor appetite on carnival days. Typically liquids are digested more rapidly from the stomach so are less likely to cause gut upset. They are also often easier to “get down” than solid food so can be more appealing when appetite levels are low.
4. Be proactive with fluids
The best way to avoid dehydration is to be proactive with fluid intake from breakfast on carnival day. Forgetting about fluids until late in the day will most likely lead to dehydration, particularly in hot weather. Sipping regularly on water throughout the day will help to maintain good hydration levels. For most children, sports drink is unnecessary and water is more than adequate for hydration on carnival days. If the weather is looking hot, take several drink bottles and freeze at least one so that as it melts there is a constant supply of cold, refreshing water over the day.
5. Plan ahead
Avoid relying on canteens at the venue for food and drink supplies. More often than not, the food available from canteens will be poor nutrition quality. Instead, take an esky or cooler bag with ice-blocks full of fresh and nutritious food options. It’s a good idea to pack a range of different foods so that there is plenty of variety for added appeal.
6. Recover at the end of the day
Recovery at the end of the day is particularly important for children who are participating in carnivals or tournaments that span over several days. It’s a good idea to kick start recovery soon after the last event with foods that are a combo of carbs and protein – flavoured milk, yoghurt and nuts, cheese and crackers or a chicken sandwich are all suitable options.
Keep the evening meal simple – foods that are hand held or finger foods can be more appealing as fatigue is likely to be kicking in by dinnertime – suitable kid friendly options that also tick all their recovery nutrition needs include:
Homemade fish & chips with chunky oven baked potato wedges
Homemade sausage rolls or pasties with salad
- Contribution by Ali Patterson, Advanced Sports Dietitian -