Guest Column: Nutrition is key for active children

Published 3:25 pm Monday, August 8, 2016

Guest Column by Rachel Breneman

Rachel Breneman is a Hy-Vee dietitian and a nutrition expert promoting healthy eating throughout the community. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Rachel Breneman

Rachel Breneman

Baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, fun-runs and more are keeping your family busy and moving this summer. Proper nutrition for your child is important to keep him or her active! As a parent and/or coach it is your job to help keep these kids hydrated, healthy, growing and strong. Sports nutrition for children is important, especially during those all-day tournaments and long training periods. Children’s nutrition needs are different than adults, based on their rapid growth, increasing muscle mass and hormone changes.

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A good rule of thumb is this: Since your child is growing, he or she should not be losing weight. Try to help them maintain or gain weight if they are involved in a training program. Try to avoid fast food and junk food in attempts to help them gain weight; instead, turn to high-calorie items such as nut butters, cottage cheese, full-fat Greek yogurt, avocados, hummus, protein powders and milk to add to your child’s meals for a boost in calories. Adding a snack between meals, such as a homemade trail mix, can also help children meet their calorie needs. Try a healthy dip with crackers, veggies and fruit, Greek yogurt cream cheese on a bagel, or check out for an avocado smoothie recipe!

Always, always, always keep your child hydrated. Children should be drinking fluid before, during and after activities. What type of fluid is best? Water should be your top choice if activity is less than an hour. Sports drinks are an acceptable source of fluid if activity totals more than 60 minutes. Alternating between water and sports drinks is helpful for multiple game days or all-day tournaments. If your child prefers something flavored, try watering down sports drinks; the amount of sugar in these drinks is not necessary for hydration. A great recovery drink for kids and adults is 8 ounces of chocolate milk. Always discourage energy drinks; they are much too high in caffeine for a child’s diet.

It is recommended by Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that children ages 6 to 17 get at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. Don’t hold your kids back; encourage them to play a game after dinner, make your own obstacle course in the yard or turn to for a family-friendly competition. Let your children know that health and fitness is a family affair and participate in exercise activities as a team.

If you are searching for a great summer activity to get your kids motivated to be active, be sure to get involved with Hy-Vee’s Pinky Swear Kids Triathlon in the Twin Cities in August. This non-traditional triathlon is fun and fitness-friendly for youth of all skill levels. The focus of the Hy-Vee Pinky Swear Triathlon is participation and raising money for children with cancer. Our goal is to help kids in the community learn they are never too young to make a difference in another person’s life. Register now to participate in Hy-Vee Pinky Swear Kids Triathlon at


Cucumber Bites


From CookingLight

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half, about 1/4 cup salsa)



6 cucumber slices

2 tablespoons plain hummus

2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Squeeze of sriracha hot sauce



Top each cucumber slice with a little hummus, then sprinkle with cheese. Top each slice with a few dots of sriracha.


Nutrition facts per serving: 120 calories, 8 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 14 milligrams cholesterol, 211 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, 6 grams protein.


— Adapted from EatingWell Inc. 

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.