soft drinks; pop; sports drinks

Coaches are role models, and they set the tone for the season. They also play a critical role in getting junk food and sugary drinks off the sidelines of youth sports. When I’ve taken my Snacktivism mission to the coaches of my children’s teams, I’ve been grateful that they’ve all been on board (read: “THAT Mom: The Sequel“).

I was thrilled to learn that a new training module was created for soccer coaches, to help them encourage healthy habits for practices and games (and discourage sports drinks and post-game cupcakes!). Called Coaching Healthy Habits, the training is a partnership between US Youth Soccer, the largest youth sports organization in the country, and Healthy Kids Out of School, an initiative of ChildObesity180 at Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition.

Coaching Healthy Habits is a simple 12-minute slideshow with three main messages:

  • Drink Right (hydrate with water instead of sugary beverages)
  • Snack Smart (snack on fruits and vegetables)
  • Move More (increase physical activity during practice)

Here’s a handout that summarizes their messages (click HERE to save or print if you’d like to pass it along to coaches or parents):

Free Resources for Soccer Coaches

For example, here’s the message about “Drinking Right”:

Myth: Players need the electrolytes in sports drinks to stay hydrated.

Fact: To stay hydrated, replenishing electrolytes isn’t necessary if players are eating a healthy diet and drinking water. Sticking to water also helps players avoid the added sugar in sports drinks.

Remind players to bring 1-2 full water bottles for trainings and matches. Consider a “water-only sideline” to encourage your team to drink water.

Let parents and players know that doctors recommend water, not sports drinks. Consider opportunities when you could share this message with your team.

Coaching Healthy Habits has already been tested in Massachusetts and will be required for all new licensed soccer coaches in the state, as well as in New Hampshire and Maine. But any coach or league can access the training!

If you’d like to view the training module or pass it along to your coach or local sports league director, go here to the Healthy Kids Hub (go to “Take a Training” → “Soccer Coaches” → “Get Started” ). You can also find it here through US Youth Soccer.

Healthy Kids Out of School has other resources for parents and coaches, including this fact sheet on why sports drinks aren’t necessary for most youth sports (click HERE to save or print if you’d like to pass it along to coaches or parents):

Time out on Sports drinksFor more resources, including sample emails to parents and coaches and a printable list of “20 Healthy Team Snacks For Kids“, get my free Sports Snacktivism Handbook.

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20 Healthy Team Snacks for Kids

by Sally on September 9, 2014

20 Fruit & Veggie Team Snacks

Leaves are falling. Soccer balls are flying. Naturally, my thoughts turn to healthy team snacks.

Since I first voiced my frustration over junky soccer snacks a few years ago (read Soccer Mom Soapbox), I’ve advocated for fruit-and-water team snacks. I’ve also made the case for simply eliminating the team snack altogether (read The End of Soccer Snacks?). Young children playing an hour or less of soccer aren’t typically exerting themselves to a degree that warrants much of a snack, much less a sports drink (or a large frosted cupcake). Most of them are better off going home for a healthy lunch or dinner.

But some coaches and parents like gathering for a post-game team snack. In that case, fruit is a perfect solution. It’s refreshing, easy, and usually safe for children with food allergies. And many children don’t get enough fruit anyway. So if you’d like to bring fruit (or even veggies) to games and are looking for ideas, I’ve got some!

It’s true that junky snacks seem easy: Just pop into the store and grab a pack of snack-size cookies, a few boxes of gummy fruit snacks, or a couple dozen donuts or cupcakes. But fruit and veggie team snacks can be just as simple (and fun).

Here are 20 ideas to get you started:

Whole Fruit:

  • Bananas (budget friendly!)
  • Apples
  • Clementines (easy for little hands to peel)
  • Pears
  • Peaches or nectarines
  • Plums

Cut Fruit:

Fruits & Veggies To Go:

  • Paper cups of berries
  • Individual bags of baby carrots (look for these in the store by the regular carrots)
  • Baggies of sliced peppers and celery sticks
  • Snack-size baggies of melon
  • Small paper bags of grapes
  • Paper cup or baggie of cherries
  • Small boxes of raisins
  • Prepackaged blueberries
  • Cups of sugar snap peas (nice and sweet!)
  • Cups of pineapple chunks

Get a free printable version of this list: 20 Healthy Team Snacks from Real Mom Nutrition.

If you’d like help organizing healthier snacks for your child’s team, consider using the resources in my Sports Snacktivism Handbook. It includes sample coach and team emails, an FAQ, this snack list, and a slideshow.

20 Fruit & Veggie Team Snacks by Real Mom Nutrition

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Soccer Snacks on Steroids: Is THIS Why It Started?

April 30, 2014

Remember when soccer snacks were simple orange slices on the sidelines? Someone’s mom brought a Tupperware container full of them for halftime. You sucked out the juice or peeled the fruit from the rind while getting a pep talk from your coach, then ran back onto the field. Flash forward a few decades and orange […]

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Soccer Mom On A Mission…Watch It!

March 13, 2014

Two years ago, I tromped around the soccer fields in my community, snapping photos of the snacks I was seeing. I set the photos to music and turned them into a video slideshow called “Soccer Mom On A Mission”, with the hopes of raising awareness and mobilizing a new wave of Snacktivists to create change. After […]

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What Are The Olympics Teaching Your Kids About Food?

February 11, 2014

“McDonald’s is, like, the official restaurant of everything.” That’s what my nine year old said to me as we were watching the Olympics the other night. That’s because every 10 minutes that McDonald’s commercial was on the screen. You know which one I’m talking about: the split-screen showing an Olympian biting their gold medal on […]

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Why I’m No Fan of Sports Drinks

January 22, 2014

The longer I am a parent, the more irritated I become about sports drinks. I am irritated that million-dollar marketing tactics are used to woo children with star athletes, logos splashed all over televised sporting events, and online comics and games. It’s wrong. How wrong? Last year, Gatorade actually developed a video game in which the player maneuvers […]

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Why I’m Glad I Bought The Gatorade

July 26, 2013

It was a case of poor planning. My husband and I had taken our nine year old, Henry, to an outdoor center to play mini golf and hit balls at the batting cages. It was steamy hot, and while I had remembered the hats and sunscreen, I had forgotten water. There were no water fountains, […]

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Ambushed by Big Soda on the Soccer Field

April 19, 2013

Something happened on the soccer fields last weekend that made cupcakes seem tame by comparison: A rep from 7 Up worked the crowd, offering free diet soda to parents and kids. When I found out about this through some friends–and confirmed it with a call to our rec center–I felt my blood pressure rise about […]

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Sports Snacktivism Handbook

August 28, 2012

If you’re fed up with junk food snacks on the sidelines and want to take Snacktivism to your child’s team, I’d love to help you! Below are five resources for you to use A sample coach letter A sample team letter FAQ to answer questions from coaches or parents A printable PDF list of 20 fruit […]

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On the Front Lines of Snack-tivism

July 25, 2012

My son’s day camp at the local university had everything going for it: Flexible drop-off for working parents, after-care swim lessons, a full day of sports and activities that made bedtime blessedly early. But alas: The snacks. The first day, the campers were given Fruit Roll-Ups and Powerade. The next, it was Cinnamon Toast Crunch […]

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