Parents What Are We Feeding These Kids!?!

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Midnightd

Proud Parent
This might be more of a general parenting question, but I'm asking here because I know your children are probably just as active, if not moreso, than my child, and I need some ideas.

For context, he just turned 7 and will be starting developmental in August. His practices will be 4-7 on Monday nights and 10-1 on Saturdays. As it stands he is extremely physically active (plays non stop on the playground after school, goes on 5k+ runs with my husband, is currently in Track and Field 2 nights a week (which will overlap with gymnastics by a couple of weeks), etc.

He is fed a healthy breakfast every morning (thing scrambled eggs, toast and fruit or oatmeal with yogurt and fruit, or yogurt and granola with fruit, stuff like that) but he often doesn't eat his breakfast fully. At school he has lunch I pack for him that is a main (a home mad sub or mini pizzas, sunbutter and jam sandwich, cheese cracks and pepperoni, etc) then fruits and veggies on the side. Snacks in his lunch are yogurt tube, granola bar, and now I've added a string cheese every day as well. Then when I pick him up from school he often eats TWO Nutrigrain bars or whatever in my car on the way home and still begs for food while supper is being made. then he eats supper, asks for seconds and/or then has a bowl of cereal or a slice of bread with butter AFTER dinner. I went and bought a few "protein" bars for him that don't have nuts (so hard to find) to send to daycamp in his lunch as well hoping that will help keep him more full.

I'm looking ahead to when his gymnastics training starts and how I will need to feed him a snack on the way to practice and send a dinner with him to the gym. How am I going to keep this seemingly bottomless pit full?! Any tips or tricks appreciated!
 
One thing I notice is him not eating his breakfast fully despite being so hungry later in the day. Sounds like his stomach isn't up to it so early. It may help if he either has a lighter breakfast, or can take some with him to finish later. Boiled eggs may be lighter on the stomach and easier to take with him if he gets hungry later.
It's also perfectly fine if he doesn't want as much early in the morning, so long as he eats enough later. It sounds like your boy is really good at letting his body tell him what it needs, so that's a good thing.

When you're looking for tips, are you just looking for more ideas for food in general? Or are you worried about it taking too long to make all the food or it costing too much?
 
For before practice, choose healthy carbs/fats. Fruit and cheese, peanut butter, etc. You could even send him something small to eat mid practice if needed (applesauce, or something easy and quick)

Will he eat dinner at the gym or on the way home? Do you have a long drive?

We had an hour drive after practice that ended at 9 for several years. I would meal prep on Sunday, so on the way home he just had whatever we had for dinner. I heated it up in the staff room. His meal was always a main, fruits and veggies, and usually a chocolate milk.

I also would just throw in additional snacks, some healthy, some just snacky. This way he had a variety of things to choose from.

Good luck and welcome to Men's Gymnastics!
 
One thing I notice is him not eating his breakfast fully despite being so hungry later in the day. Sounds like his stomach isn't up to it so early. It may help if he either has a lighter breakfast, or can take some with him to finish later. Boiled eggs may be lighter on the stomach and easier to take with him if he gets hungry later.
It's also perfectly fine if he doesn't want as much early in the morning, so long as he eats enough later. It sounds like your boy is really good at letting his body tell him what it needs, so that's a good thing.

When you're looking for tips, are you just looking for more ideas for food in general? Or are you worried about it taking too long to make all the food or it costing too much?
Yeah, it does seem as though he is not up to eating early in the morning, but he is pretty resistant to bringing it with him. I'm not usually there in the morning (my husband does most mornings and I do most evenings) but I've sent his breakfast with him to the before school carer and he didn't eat it. He's SUPER weird about boiled eggs. He's not generally a super picky eater, but does have a couple of quirks, that being one of them.

I'm not particularly concerned about money here (we are fortunate to not be in a major financial crunch and can afford food). Mostly looking for ideas/strategies to ensure that he's getting what he needs on a daily basis, but in particular on days where he will be very busy with the gym. I just want to make sure he's fueling adequately from the beginning. :)
 
For before practice, choose healthy carbs/fats. Fruit and cheese, peanut butter, etc. You could even send him something small to eat mid practice if needed (applesauce, or something easy and quick)

Will he eat dinner at the gym or on the way home? Do you have a long drive?

We had an hour drive after practice that ended at 9 for several years. I would meal prep on Sunday, so on the way home he just had whatever we had for dinner. I heated it up in the staff room. His meal was always a main, fruits and veggies, and usually a chocolate milk.

I also would just throw in additional snacks, some healthy, some just snacky. This way he had a variety of things to choose from.

Good luck and welcome to Men's Gymnastics!
Thanks! The drive is not too far (like 15 minutes). Thankfully I have a friend with a child his age who is in the women's developmental program and I messaged her about logistics and she said they do take a break to eat at the gym in the evening, so that was reassuring. I'll definitely be sending him with a "lunch" to eat at the gym. So yeah, mostly looking for like how to fuel him not only the day of, but like on the way to the gym from school, as well as on the way home that isn't just like 5 Nutrigrain bars! LMAO
 
The logistics of getting enough of the right food into a seven-year-old at the right time of day to fit in around school and practice and everything else has proved to be one of the biggest challenges of squad gymnastics! My personal bible for such matter is Go Faster Food for Your Active Family by Kate Percy: clear, science-based explanations of what is needed when, case studies for different sports and ages, plus loads of quick and simple recipes (with metric measurements as it's a UK publication).
 
This was always a challenge for me too with my kids. I've found that the type of fruit matters (ie, apples > grapes for staying power) and veggies like carrots, celery, edamame and bell pepper (and these can be served with hummus or smashed avocado for extra fat). Maybe consider playing with the fat content of the dairy you are providing so that he feels more satiated such as full fat yogurt in a smoothie with added protein powder. My son used to drink a lot of chocolate milk and core power protein drinks when he was a kid.
 
I competed 15 seasons and I never ate breakfast before school. I preferred the extra 20 mins of sleep. By lunch I was starving and ate every bit of either the hot lunch served by the school or sack lunch packed by my mom. Starving again after school, usually had Cheetos, pop corn, dry cereal while watching tv for an hour. Then practice 3-4 hours 4 days/wk, no snack break, eating in the middle of gym just seems wrong. Now that I’m a coach, we have any group that practices longer than 2 hours have snack break, and I think it is a bad idea. It’s supposed to be 10–15 mins, but in reality it’s more like 20-25, during which the kids totally switch gears from practice mode to relax and chit chat mode, combined with a stomach starting to digest snacks, and it’s just about impossible to get them to do anything productive for the rest of the night. I would much rather cut practice to be a half hour shorter and not have a snack break, we would get a lot more done! Just wanted to share my experiences
 
Oh, for fill-up foods I would suggest Italian, Asian, Mexican foods. Think pastas, breads, biscuits, potatoes, rice, chow mein noodles, burritos, beans, cheeses…
 
I competed 15 seasons and I never ate breakfast before school. I preferred the extra 20 mins of sleep. By lunch I was starving and ate every bit of either the hot lunch served by the school or sack lunch packed by my mom. Starving again after school, usually had Cheetos, pop corn, dry cereal while watching tv for an hour. Then practice 3-4 hours 4 days/wk, no snack break, eating in the middle of gym just seems wrong. Now that I’m a coach, we have any group that practices longer than 2 hours have snack break, and I think it is a bad idea. It’s supposed to be 10–15 mins, but in reality it’s more like 20-25, during which the kids totally switch gears from practice mode to relax and chit chat mode, combined with a stomach starting to digest snacks, aqnd it’s just about impossible to get them to do anything productive for the rest of the night. I would much rather cut practice to be a half hour shorter and not have a snack break, we would get a lot more done! Just wanted to share my experiences
We shortened practice by a half hour (from 3 to 2.5) after covid and cut the snack break and it worked really well for us. If kids needed something, they could grab it from their bag and take a few minutes, but not having a set time for it made everything a lot more efficient.
 
We shortened practice by a half hour (from 3 to 2.5) after covid and cut the snack break and it worked really well for us. If kids needed something, they could grab it from their bag and take a few minutes, but not having a set time for it made everything a lot more efficient.
I love this approach. I think it allows kids to still grab what they need to get their energy, but it won't turn into a social break. I also think it'll help the kids learn to listen to their body and their hunger rather than just eating on a schedule. (I do think it's best that they eat something or have a nutritious drink during training though, it's really better for performance imo)

I've been in a teen class for a bit as an adult because of logistics. It always seemed crazy to me that they had a drinking break or such, that teens couldn't just grab a drink or a snack when they felt they needed it. I was always allowed to just grab what I need when I need either because I was an adult or because I was recovering from underweight.
 
Commercial snack bars, no matter how healthy, are for the most part not filling especially if person is very hungry. Ditto yogurts. Maybe bring something more filling for in the car after school. It could be anything, leftovers, whatever. I used to make my kids meatballs in different flavors, with pasta or not, super portable and easy to store in fridge or freezer and warm when needed. Otherwise I suggest figure out what foods he likes best and have lots around for him to easily feed himself. My middle son never ate breakfast, he just could not eat early. So I sent him to school with two full lunches, one for morning snack and one for lunch time.
 
Commercial snack bars, no matter how healthy, are for the most part not filling especially if person is very hungry. Ditto yogurts. Maybe bring something more filling for in the car after school. It could be anything, leftovers, whatever. I used to make my kids meatballs in different flavors, with pasta or not, super portable and easy to store in fridge or freezer and warm when needed. Otherwise I suggest figure out what foods he likes best and have lots around for him to easily feed himself. My middle son never ate breakfast, he just could not eat early. So I sent him to school with two full lunches, one for morning snack and one for lunch time.
Part of my issue is that this kid also sometimes/often "doesn't have time" to eat his lunch... because he is busy talking during his lunch period. I just bought him a much larger lunch bag to carry what I imagine will start to be much larger lunches and snacks for the coming school year.
 

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