Did you know that 50% of all eating occasions are snacks? And, 63% of all food choices are decided within an hour of eating them? Dr. Shelley Balanko of The Hartman Group (a food and beverage consulting firm) recently shed some light on snacking in 2019. “Snacks are replacing meals because they are flexible, fun, and easy to individualize,” she said.
For swimmers, snacks can help prevent hunger, sustain energy, recover from a hard workout, and sharpen mental focus. Snacks can also be eaten as a reward after a long workout and appeal to a sense of discovery of new cultures and flavors.
But, how do you choose a “good” snack? Here are some do’s and don’ts for swimmers when choosing snacks.
DO use snacks to help increase fruit and vegetable intake. Only 9% of high school students meet the recommendation for fruit intake, and only 2% meet the recommendation for vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018 State Indicator Report on Fruits & Vegetables).
DON’T jump on the low carb fads. Swimmers need carbs, including some simple carbs or sugar, for sports performance, and normal growth and development.
DO use snacks to get nutrients to power your performance; look for snacks that contain protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients (nutrients found in plants).
DON’T think that a snack labelled organic, GMO-free, or gluten-free is a healthier alternative. An organic, non-GMO, gluten-free candy bar or cookie is still candy or a cookie.
DO explore new flavors of your favorites.
DON’T eat so many snacks that you miss meals. Swimmers need both traditional meals and snacks.
DO plan to pack snacks for long days of practice and school. By packing snacks, you won’t as easily succumb to the quick trip through the drive-thru for chicken nuggets, fries, and soft drink.
Information on snacking trends was obtained at a sponsored conference during a session sponsored by Bush Brothers and Company. During the session I had the opportunity to taste Bush’s chickpea snacks, bean dips, and bean chips. They were delicious, however, I was not asked nor compensated to write this article.
Chris Rosenbloom, PhD, is a registered dietitian nutritionist who has provided nutrition information to coaches and athletes for over 30 years. She welcomes questions from swimmers, parents, and coaches at firstname.lastname@example.org