Soccer Player's Guide to Snacking

When life is busy, eating can get crazy, and fueling gets off-balance. You may find yourself on the road and needing a quick bite. Here's a tip from Food Guide for Soccer which is good for all active sports enthusiasts and their families.

Vending Machine or Tournament Snacks

Vending-machine cuisine, which resembles choices at tournaments, offers tough choices. But tucked among the lackluster choices, you may be able to find pretzels, peanuts, juice, yogurt, or even an apple. The good part about vending-machine snacks is that they are limited in size (e.g., only three cookies instead of the whole bag) and generally provide only 200 to 400 calories, not 2,000.

If you're trying to decide between fatty or sugary choices (i.e., chips vs. jelly beans), remember that the sugar in jelly beans will appropriately fuel your muscles, whereas the fat in the chips will clog the arteries. (After eating a sugary snack, be sure to brush or rinse your teeth.) Tournaments often sell candy bars and M & M's. Try to be equipped with better options so these don't become your only choice.

Sweet Treats

If it's cookies, brownies, an ice cream sundae, or any other such treat that you crave once a week or so, Nancy Clark MS, RD recommends you satisfy your hankering by enjoying the treat. You won't destroy your health with an occasional treat, as long as your overall diet tends to be wholesome, and as long as you eat it at a time that will not hurt your performance.

Sweets, treats, and fast foods are best saved for after the games. Remember, you eat for yourself to enhance performance, and you do it for your team as well.

Healthful Snacks and Munchies

To reduce the temptation of the vending machine or tournament choices, keep handy in your soccer bag, locker or car a supply of wholesome options: whole-grain bagels, crackers, pretzels, fig bars, energy bars, granola bars, oatmeal-raisin cookies, graham crackers, raisins and other dried fruit, trail mix, V-8 juice, and juice boxes.

Here are some fun soccer snack ideas:

Avocado chip mini sandwiches. Chips are salty and spicy enough on their own to accommodate plain avocado (as opposed to guacamole or other dip), and this is easy. Put avocado pieces between large chips, and serve as appetizers.

A Healthier S'more. Yael Averbuch of Women's Professional Soccer loves dark chocolate. She invented spreading squares of dark chocolate with peanut butter; try a little cinnamon on it too. It's great on its own, but you can also try it between graham crackers.

Frozen Fruit. Blueberries, strawberries, grapes, oranges-all make fun and flavorful snacks when eaten right from the freezer.

Frozen yogurt cups. Buy blended flavors, put containers in freezer.


Read more tips like these in "Food Guide for Soccer--Tips & Recipes From the Pros" by Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, RD. The book addresses nutrition questions and concerns of soccer athletes of all ages, and offers almost 50 recipes from players in Women's Professional Soccer. Find the book at NancyClarkRD.com or at Amazon.com.

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