Fueling Young Athletes: A Guide to Healthy Eating for Active Kids

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Fueling Young Athletes: A Guide to Healthy Eating for Active Kids


As parents of active children, particularly those engaged in demanding sports like CrossFit, ensuring they receive the right nutrition can be a challenge. This challenge can be amplified if your child is a picky eater. However, with the right strategies and a little patience, you can help your child embrace a balanced diet that supports their active lifestyle.


1. Understand the nutritional needs of your child

Kids involved in sports generally require a diet rich in protein for muscle repair, complex carbohydrates for energy, and healthy fats for overall growth and brain health. They also need a variety of fruits and vegetables to provide essential vitamins and minerals. However, individual needs will vary depending on length and type of activity and age. There’s no one size fits all approach, and you may have to experiment to find the right balance to keep your child fueled for sports and activities. And don’t forget, hydration is also essential for active kids to prevent lethargy, dehydration, and heat-related injuries.


2. Make mealtime a positive experience

The goal here is to reduce stress and anxiety around meals, which can encourage children to try new foods. Introduce new or healthy foods to your child in a fun and positive way and avoid making negative comments about a child’s eating habits. Kids Eat in Color recommends introducing interactive elements to meals, such as cooking together or creating colorful food art. By transforming the mealtime environment into a fun and engaging experience, parents can gradually introduce their picky eaters to a variety of healthy foods.


3. Incorporate kid-friendly recipes

This provides an opportunity to introduce new flavors and textures gradually. By experimenting with herbs, spices, and unique ingredients, parents can expand their child’s palate while ensuring a well-rounded diet. Pairing familiar favorites with adventurous options can help build a sense of familiarity and curiosity.

Adding an element of fun to mealtime can also help encourage kids to engage with healthy foods. This could include arranging vegetables into smiley faces, creating mini-sized portions, using cookie cutters to shape sandwiches, or making recipes that sneak in extra nutrient-dense foods like cheesy vegetable fritters with peas and corn or healthy fruit roll-ups with veggies.


4. Involve kids in meal planning

Preparing a weekly menu that includes a variety of foods can help ensure they get all the nutrients they need. This can be particularly helpful for busy families who may not have time to cook every day. Children who actively participate in meal planning and preparation tend to show more enthusiasm for the final product. This involvement not only fosters a sense of ownership but also sparks their curiosity about different ingredients and their nutritional benefits.


When transitioning to a healthier diet, it’s important to remember that every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Patience and persistence are key. It may take several attempts before your child is willing to try a new food, but don’t give up.

Feeding active children, especially those involved in demanding sports, requires a balanced diet that supports their energy needs and overall growth. With the right strategies, you can help your picky eater embrace a healthier diet, fueling them for both their sport and their overall development. By involving kids in the preparation process, providing visually appealing and nutritious options, and incorporating an element of fun, you can ensure your little ones consume enough to sustain their energetic lifestyle.


Who wrote this post...

Tiffini Steding

Tiffini Steding

Tiffini joined CrossFit Renew as a never-before CrossFitter in 2021. She started with the intention of improving her fitness after her second son was born, and burpee box jumped her way into wanting to be a part of the CrossFit way of life in a more significant way. In the fall of 2022, she earned her status as a Level 1 CrossFit coach and went on to pursue the CrossFit Kids certification so she could coach her 7-year old son and his friends. Outside of the gym, Tiffini likes to go down rabbit holes reading about anything from turtles (thanks to her son) to historical events to the emerging world of Artificial Intelligence. If she had to choose a favorite benchmark workout, it’d have to be Annie.

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