A Call for Better Sports Snacks

Melissa Graham

Every spring, when Little League games begin, three little words strike terror into the hearts of health-conscious parents all over the country: post game snacks. When I hear the phrase, visions of neon colored sugar water and Costco valu-paks brimming with sodium and artificial colors fill my head. I try to advocate balance as my son’s chief dietician. As my mom says, one bag of junk won’t ruin your body. As a result, I don’t forbid my son from taking a bag of Doritos or a bottle of Gatorade but instead let him decide for himself. Fortunately, he usually politely declines knowing that healthier and tastier alternatives await at home (Greater Than coconut water  and Tia tortilla chips are delicious natural alternatives to these chemically enhanced treats).
This year, however, is different. My husband, our team’s coach, and I paid for my non-profit, Purple Asparagus, to sponsor the team. Forgoing the folksy tone, I’d adopted for past emails as snack mom, I drove straight to the heart of the matter. From my email:
“Some of you may have seen a recent article in the Trib suggesting that kids who play organized sports eat more junk food because of the treat culture pervasive in youth leagues. I’d like us not to be that team. To encourage that, I want to give a few guidelines.

  • The post game nosh is a snack, not a treat. If our team track record persists, they’ll be plenty of time for those (both of the kid and adult variety) towards the end of the season – the White Sox like a good party. But after a game, the kids need something to replenish their energy, not send them into sugar shock.
  • Please be conscious of allergy concerns. If any of your kids has a food allergy, please let me know. I know we all want our kids to be safe and will accommodate any food allergies.
  • Let’s try to avoid foods with artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, and lots of loaded sugar and salt. I promise I won’t bring your kid kale chips if you don’t bring mine Cheetos.”

You know what? Thus far, we’ve had awesome snacks ranging from a banana and a bottle of water to homemade pumpkin whoopie pies.We’ve got a winning record not only on the field but also in the snack realm. Do I attribute this to my well-crafted email? I wouldn’t flatter myself. I think we lucked into a great group of parents. And, perhaps, sometimes folks just need a little encouragement to pass up the potato chips in favor of the apple chips.
For three years running, we’ve served Pink Lemonade as the beverage portion of my snack rotation. Ordinarily, I use strawberries to create the hue, but this year I had a mushy blood orange to rid my fridge of. It turned the lemonade a salmon-y shade of pink. The next time you’re called upon to bring a beverage for your child’s sports snack, try it!

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