Who doesn’t love food? Food is essential for young athletes because that is where they get their energy from. Gymnasts practice anywhere from five to even seven days a week. Sometimes gymnastics practices are hours long, some gymnasts even have two practices in one day!
The US is known for being at the top of the list when it comes to the most obese countries in the world. We are known for having processed foods, fast food and chains, and even putting ingredients in some of our food that is actually illegal in other countries.
It is important that your gymnast gets the energy and fuel he or she needs when it comes to gymnastics because it is a full body workout sport. Your gymnast runs, jumps, tumbles, flips, twists, turns, and he or she will be constantly burning calories.
It would not be good for your gymnast to do gymnastics if he or she does not have a lot of energy. He or she could get seriously hurt and your gymnast might have trouble performing. Now, I am not saying pack your gymnast bags of chips, muffins, or soda. However, I am saying that you should pack your gymnast nutritional snacks that will help him or her power through the day.
Fruit is healthy for every diet with some fruits being healthier than others. Fruit is easy to cut and also satisfies the sweet tooth!
Berries have a lot of fiber and are very healthy for your digestive system. Blueberries have antioxidants and are good for your mind, blood sugar, and heart. Raspberries help fight against diseases and cancers, and are very sweet. Blackberries are also good for the mind and filled with vitamins and anthocyanin. Strawberries benefit blood sugar levels, teeth, and the skin. Strawberries can also be eaten whole; yes, that is including the leaves!
It is okay if your gymnast is not a fan of berries. Fruits such as grapes, apples, bananas, and clementines are easy to store in your gymnast’s lunch bag. Don’t forget to throw an ice pack in your athlete’s lunch bag to keep fruit cold and fresh.
If your gymnast has trouble consuming fruit, making a fruit smoothie is also ideal. There are plenty of great recipes online if you feel stuck to help give you ideas
When it comes to packing your gymnast healthy snacks, I know vegetables are not something you would think about!
Of course, I know that you cannot cook and store corn on the cob in your gymnast’s bag, however, something like carrot sticks, celery sticks, broccoli, or grape tomatoes can work. If you are cutting (or buying) the vegetables in “sticks” it would not be a bad idea to add a dip for a little flavor.
There are a lot of recipes for homemade dips online that you can try if you have the time or patience to make them. If you are feeling stuck when it comes to buying a dip, try ranch dressing, guacamole, or hummus. These dips are definitely the most popular and common when it comes to vegetables.
If your athlete is not the type to dip veggies, then you can always try salads. One of my personal favorites is a tomato and cucumber salad. I cut the cucumber in thin (but not too thin) slices and place them in a bowl with grape tomatoes that are cut in half. Throw a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and about a pinch-and-a-half of oregano in the bowl too.
For the dressing, I use olive oil and red wine vinegar. I put about four tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl and about two to three tablespoons of red wine vinegar in the bowl. Red wine vinegar can be a little powerful at times so my best advice is to keep trying it until you reach the taste you want! Mix it all together and BAM! You have yourself a cucumber and tomato salad.
If tomatoes and cucumbers are not your gymnast’s thing, then try mixing the vegetables he or she does like. You never know what you will come up with!
Non Fruits or Vegetables Snacks for Gymnasts
I know it is possible for children to not like fruits and vegetables, or maybe your gymnast likes a mixture of different things for lunch.
Whatever the reason may be, there are other nutritious snacks besides fruits and veggies that you can pack your gymnast that will help him or her fuel up.
1. Granola bars
There is such a variety of granola bars on the market that it is overwhelming! There are granola bars that are super crunchy and there are granola bars that are soft. There are granola bars that are chocolate and there are granola bars that are fruity. There are granola bars that contain nuts and there are granola bars that contain caramel. Because there are so many different options when it comes to granola bars, your gymnast should have no problem picking out something he or she likes.
2. Peanut butter
Peanut butter has tons of protein in it therefore packing peanut butter sandwiches or peanut butter crackers would fuel your athlete up for sure! Peanut butter can also be packed as a dip for fruits and some vegetables.
Peanut butter tastes great with apple slices and celery sticks. I have even seen celery sticks coated with peanut butter and topped with raisins! Yum! A box of raisins are another snack you can pack because they help with digestion, boost and give energy. and actually benefit endurance athletes.
Peanut butter crackers and cheese crackers are very common, especially when your gymnast is on-the-go. The grocery store sells healthier options such as whole wheat and fat free as well.
If your gymnast does not like peanut butter or cheese crackers, there are options of crackers that you can buy that does not have any fillings. You can purchase plain crackers, crackers with different spices and seasonings, crackers such as gold fish, and crackers with different textures (a.k.a. Triscuit).
It is more than safe to pack your gymnast popcorn for a snack as long as the popcorn is not LOADED with butter and salt. Popcorn is a whole grain snack that is packed with fiber and low in fat. Plain popcorn is also low in calories and is delicious mixed with dark chocolate!
Cutting a cheese block into small pieces goes great with crackers, or you can eat them by themselves. There are hundreds of different cheeses and each is unique with flavor.
Cheese is a good source of vitamins, calcium, and protein for your little athlete. Cheese is part of the food pyramid, therefore, your gymnast will get their daily dairy intake from eating this snack.
So, what’s your favourite snack?