Well, this is a case of blogging serendipity:
You might remember a post I recently shared here by Sally Kuzemchak of Real Mom Nutrition. She was taking issue with the often-awful snacks served at her kids’ soccer games, and sounded so much like I do when I write about classroom treats that I called her A Soccer Mom After My Own Heart:
I really didn’t want to be That Mom. You know who I mean. But the soccer snacks drove me over the edge.
Let me tell you about soccer. The Capri Sun flows like water at soccer. There are Pringles. And Ritz Bits. And Oreos. And cupcakes. Sometimes Oreos and cupcakes.
After two years of watching this parade of processed food march onto the field every Saturday morning, I finally spoke up and became That Mom.
In the post, Sally goes on to detail the surprisingly vehement push back she got when she suggested improving her child’s team’s soccer snacks.
Well, here’s what I happened to email Sally yesterday:
I was totally thinking of you yesterday afternoon . . . . We are NOT a team sports family at all . . . but out of the blue my sixth grader decided she wants to try soccer again, after hating it back in first grade. So yesterday was her very first game and the snack was given out at the end (really raising the question, WHY? since we’re all going home at the point anyway.) I had my fingers crossed that maybe things had changed in the intervening five years since our last soccer game — until [she] came toward me with a bag of sour cream and onion Lay’s and a juice!
In the car home, I told [my daughter] up front, I’m so sorry but I’m just not going to provide snacks like that. What about sliced oranges? (I mean, who even wants salty potato chips after running hard for an hour?) But peer pressure being what it is, and the strong desire to fit in around this age, I know it’s going to be a struggle between the two of us. Sigh.
Then, not a few hours later, Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen of Raise Healthy Eaters (another excellent blog, by the way) shared on her Facebook page a Chicago Tribune story headlined, “Kids Who Play Sports Eat More Junk Food: Study.”
Although the cited study found that “kids participating in athletics tend to eat more fruits, vegetables and drink more milk than those who don’t,” it also found that
Sports are nearly synonymous with junk food. Sports venues almost always offer candy, soda or ice cream; when the kids start badgering you at 9 a.m., it makes for a long day of saying “no.” In youth sports leagues, parents volunteer to organize snack schedules; in soccer, kids get treats and halftime and after the game, though they are not lacking for energy or fuel.
These sweet rewards, meanwhile, are often packaged convenience foods such as cookies, chips, soda or “fruit” snacks, which can total 300 to 500 calories or more, the researchers noted in the study. A typical 8 year old will expend about an additional 150 calories in an hour of high intensity sport activity . . . .
Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are perhaps even more insidious. Most kids don’t need the sweetened beverages and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids avoid them.
I’m glad this study came out because (a) it validates what a lot of health-aware “soccer moms” are concerned about; and (b) having a formal study documenting the problem might be the first step toward change.
In fact, right now I’m noodling over whether to send a link to this study to my daughter’s soccer coach and asking if he might consider sharing it with the team’s parents to encourage better snacks. Then again, as I mentioned above, we’re brand new to this soccer thing. And Sally’s experience with other parents who seemed determined to defend their Cheetos and Capri Sun was pretty dispiriting.
In Sally’s words, it’s very hard to be That Mom . . . .
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