Do you ever find yourself in line at a concession stand scratching your head, wondering how there could be SO MANY different options to choose from and still see almost NOTHING that looks healthy or nutritious for you or your student-athlete to eat?
Me too. And I consider myself something of an expert in finding good food picks.
Interestingly enough, I had a friend who worked at a sports complex that I would visit daily to eat lunch with. Most days I packed my own food, but once in a while I'd be there without a cooler in hand and find myself scavenging for something to eat that wasn't a hot dog, ice cream, or fried chicken.
It was pretty difficult.
I remembered thinking to myself that I couldn't be the only one wondering why it's so common to serve such heavy or sugary foods to kids who are about to play a game or looking for a recovery meal. It seemed like a surefire way for the team to be in the bathroom instead of on the field.
So I asked a few coaches and parents how they find healthy picks and I got a resounding "we don't" as an answer. Yikes!
After explaining how detrimental those types of foods could be to their athlete's performance, I was quickly asked about what other options there were that were quick picks, easy to prepare and still healthy.
Here are some of my top picks for healthier concession stand options and also what to avoid if you want to gain a competitive edge with your nutrition instead of a stomach ache.
What to PASS ON:
2. Ice cream
4. Cookies & muffins
5. Chicken fingers
6. Hamburgers & hot dogs
7. French fries
8. Potato chips
9. Buttered popcorn
10. Nachos & cheese sauce
11. Fruit gummies & rollups
What to PICK:
1. Whole fruit of fruit cups
2. Dried raisins
3. Frozen grapes
4. Watermelon slices
5. Low-fat yogurt & granola
6. Waffle cones filled with fresh fruit
7. Low-fat chocolate milk
8. Pretzels or sliced veggie sticks & hummus
9. Fruit & Cheese plates
10. Trail mix
11. Packaged nuts
12. Plain popcorn
It might not always be in plain site, but most concession stands usually have many of these picks to choose from! I
f your stands are run by league authorities or a complex, don't worry! Most companies and coaches want the best for their athletes, and usually a simple conversation about offering healthier choices can be enough to get some of these foods in the line-up.
If your concessions are volunteer run (usually by you guys-- the parents), stay tuned for part 2 of the blog.
I'll be discussing how to work with coaches, other parents and your student-athletes to make healthy options and sports nutrition part of team culture.
Student-athletes (and sometimes sports mom and dads too!) are definitely pack animals! It's a lot easier to get change happening when everyone is on board instead of being the only parent whose trying to make better choices.
What are your go-to picks for concession food?