Mistake # 1: Skipping Meals

Children and adolescents need an abundance of nutrients to foster proper growth, development and optimal health.  When meals and healthy snacks are skipped on a regular basis, such as breakfast, it is nearly impossible to provide the body with all the essential nutrients. Not being well-fueled leads to quicker fatigue, mental mistakes, irritability, more soreness from the previous day’s training and overall nutrient depletion, all of which prevents athletes from performing at high levels. If you go six to seven hours without eating (aside from sleeping), odds are you are coming up short on nutrients and leaving little fuel to power through your afternoon practice, workout or game.

Mistake # 2: Poor Nutrition

Young athletes' need higher amounts of all nutrients to recover from training, perform at their peak and support normal growth and development. Many coaches and parents think because student athletes are young and fit they can eat whatever they want. Regular consumption of processed foods, fast foods and low-nutrient foods and beverages can cause nutrient deficiencies that lead to a weak immune system, osteoporosis, poor sleep, and of course—poor performance and longer recovery times. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean meats and whole grains are the pillars of a proper diet.
Regular healthy meals and snacks from a variety of nutritious foods will provide the right fuel for a competitive edge plus a lifetime of good health and healthy habits.

Mistake # 3: Inadequate Hydration

Water makes about 60 to 70 percent of the human body and it is the medium in which all life processes occur. Proper hydration is the most underemphasized aspect of sports nutrition, because just about any degree of dehydration can impair performance and mental acuity. The average person should drink about half their body weight in ounces of plain water each day. Intense physical activity and heat exposure will increase water losses and therefore raise fluid needs. Athletes, parents and coaches should be aware of hydration and fluid replacement needs, and develop strategies and protocols to insure athletes drink enough before, during and after heavy activity to keep pace with sweat loss.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Beverage Choices


What kids drink can greatly affect hydration status, how many calories are consumed and the amount of calcium and vitamin D their bodies get to build strong bones.
With the exception of infants, water and milk are the best choices, so let them flow; with water being the main daily beverage. 
Juice should be limited, but if serving juice, be sure to serve only 100% juice and limit amounts to: 
1-6 years old: no more than 4-6 ounces per day; 7-18 years old: no more than 8 ounces  per day.


Limit sweetened drinks to a once-in-a-while choice.  Recent studies suggest the more sugary beverages a person has each day, the more calories he or she eats later in the day. 
This includes sports drinks.  Electrolyte replacement drinks, also called sports beverages, are high in calories and sugar, andare best consumed by athletes who participate in intense sports or endurance activities such as marathon running that lasts longer than 60-90 minutes.  When consumed otherwise, these beverages are also linked to weight gain and can lead to excess intakes of sodium.

Emergency room visits related to Energy Drinks have doubled in recent years and are now being called “a rising public health problem”. These drinks contain high doses of caffeine and other 
stimulants that impact our vital organ systems. After downing one, your heart rate increases, blood vessels stiffen and blood may thicken--leading to serious adverse health reactions including death, especially when com- bined with athletics or alcohol. Data shows 30 to 50  percent of children, adolescents and young adults ARE consuming energy drinks, despite potential harmful side effects and no nutritional value.

The Importance of Water

Your body is estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent water.
In fact, your blood, muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. Everything your body does on the inside depends on water. You need water to regulate body temperature and blood pressure; to absorb and transport nutrients to your organs and tissues; to carry oxygen to your cells; to remove waste products, and to help protect your joints and organs. Water helps all your body parts work right.


  • You lose water through perspiration, respiration, & urination
  • Mild dehydration can slow down your metabolism and can trigger fuzzy, short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer or a printed page.
  • Lack of water is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue.
  • Your thirst mechanism can be weak and often gets confused with hunger.



  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dark Yellow Urine
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle, Joint & Back Pain
  • Dry Mouth
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low Urine Output
  • Low Tear Production
  • Constipation


Nutrition Recommendations:

  • Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. Consume at least 5 servings each day.
  • The other half of the plate should be divided between whole grains and lean proteins.
  • Aim for 3 servings of whole grains daily, including breads, cereals, crackers, and side dishes.
  • Vary your protein sources. For instance, choose seafood twice a week; replace animal proteins with plant proteins such as, beans or nuts and seeds, some days; and select more skinless poultry and less red meat.
  • Choose low-fat milk, low-fat cheese and unsweetened yogurts.
  • Reduce your salt intake by lowering the amount of processed and convenience foods you consume.
  • Check food labels and choose foods low in sodium– 140 mg or less per serving. Aim for 1,500-2,300 milligrams of sodium daily.
  • Limit foods and beverages containing added sugar. Keep added sugar intakes to < 24-40 grams per day.
  • Avoid foods high in saturated fats or solid fats, such as fast foods, cakes, pizza, hot dogs, and ice creamallowing these types of foods only as an occasional treat. Eat Fast foods less than once a month.

These materials are provided to you by Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit www.blythedale.org/kohls

Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well Program

Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.

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