This was my 4 1/2 year old daughter’s second year playing soccer through the local YMCA league. As much as I have loved watching some of her first athletic endevours, there was a part of the experience that was disturbing. The whole snack thing.
Every week a child’s parents were assigned to bring snacks for the children to enjoy after their games. Whether the kids actually need snack after a 45 minute game that either started right after breakfast or ended right before lunch is another post for another day, but what really got me was the complete lack of quality of snacks contributed for these growing kids.
In the two years of Meghan’s soccer seasons, only two of the snacks provided were fresh, non-processed foods. And yes, both of those snacks were provided by me. The snacks my daughter was given by other parents ranged from a bag of Doritos to a pack of six Oreo cookies. And always with juice. Snack became Meghan’s favorite part of soccer.
Week after week the same thing kept going through my mind:
What ever happened to orange slices?
I mean, really. If you are a parent who grew up playing soccer or little league, you are likely old enough to have been given the same snack week after week post game. Fresh fruit. Forgive me for sounding old or passe, but I miss the good ol’ days.
What kind of message are we sending our kids if we are giving them junk food after their athletic events? How is that setting them up for a lifetime of healthy choices?
Something is happening with children today. And it’s not good. One out of every three kids or teens in America today is overweight or obese. This rate is almost tripled from 1963 (source).
What is going on? I’m sure this trend can be attributed to a number of factors, but I can only speak to what I’ve seen and experienced myself. The older my daughter gets, the more I am around different children and their parents and can see their eating habits first hand.
Her post soccer game snacks are just one example, but the list could go on. It seems food is always associated with activities, whether it’s at a normal time to eat or not. Unfortunately, the food is never high-quality, nourishing food. It’s always processed junk.
So I’m here to say one thing: stop it. If I do happen to bring a homemade snack to an event, stop making me feel like an outcast or like I’ve shortchanged the kids. Stop feeding your kids, but especially my kids, empty calories, full of sugar, chemicals, and artificial food dyes for snacks. Just stop.
I can’t think of one good reason why you’d bring Oreos instead of orange slices for a post game snack. You don’t have to be a chef to cut up some orange slices and it only takes a few minutes. There’s no way that a few oranges are more expensive than the individually-packaged Oreos (in a quick search I discovered that a pack of 12 is $12.99 at Staples).
What’s that you say? Your kid won’t eat the orange slices? Then your kid must not need a snack after the soccer game. Oreos or other junk foods don’t have to be an option.
If you are already on my side, don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s okay to go against the grain. Trust me, I know it’s hard. But our kids are worth it.
Forgive me if I come off as holier-than-thou in this letter. I’m certainly less than perfect when feeding my kids and yes, I have succumbed to the convenience that processed foods offer here and there. But as parents, we need to work together here. It’s that much harder for me when my daughter is bombarded with unhealthy snacks on a weekly basis.
We are the parents here. We are in charge of our children and we get to decide what we feed them. It’s a huge responsibility. Don’t take it lightly. Please, can we just start with snacks? When snacks are necessary, let’s make them fresh food. Leave the processed stuff on the grocery store shelves and give our children what they deserve. Food that nourishes them and helps them develop to the best of their genetic potential, not food that simply fills their belly with empty calories.
Are you with me?