After a victorious, nail-biter of a soccer game a couple of weeks ago, my oldest daughter and her teammates ambled off the field, bone tired, to a snack that practically covered the entire surface of a picnic blanket. Included was a box of chocolate donuts and powdered donuts and cinnamon rolls and scones. There was also, mercifully, a bowl of fresh strawberries.
I cocked my head to the side, thinking, I know how we soccer moms love to bestow treats on our kids, but four boxes of pastries? It was enough sugar, butter and hydrogenated fat to fuel them for the rest of the season.
It struck a nerve, then, when a few days later I read a thought-provoking piece Sally Kuzemchak wrote for her excellent blog Real Mom Nutrition. She generously agreed to let me share it with all of you. I’d love to hear your thoughts about snacks on the sidelines, too.
SOCCER MOM SOAPBOX
by Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
As a dietitian, I try very hard to a) be helpful when asked and b) not be bossy and preachy and in everyone’s business when it comes to food (my husband may disagree with this).
I really don’t want to be That Mom. You know her: The one who rails against toxic diapers in landfills while you’re changing your baby’s Pampers.
Which is why I’ve kept quiet about soccer snacks. Until now.
Let me tell you about soccer. The Capri Sun flows like water at soccer. There are Pringles. And Ritz Bits. And Oreos. And cupcakes. Sometimes Oreos and cupcakes. It is a six-year-old’s paradise at soccer.
Last week it was my turn to bring the soccer snacks. I spent $12 on apples, washed them, loaded them into a cooler, and dragged them to the game. Frankly, I felt a little self-righteous: I would show everyone that tired, hungry, post-game kids would happily eat a crispy apple. Without saying a word–without being That Mom–I would prove my point.
After the game ended (in a stunning 6-0 victory) the kids swarmed around the cooler, grabbing at the shiny apples.
Until word got out that someone’s dad, who thought it was his turn to bring the snacks, had individual bags of Doritos. And not only did they take off running, they also threw their apples back into the cooler.
I know what some parents say: “It’s just some chips, let the kids have their fun.” But it’s not just chips at soccer. We’re feeding this kind of junk to our kids everywhere–at preschool, at school events, at parties. And at Saturday morning soccer games, which amount to a total of (maybe) 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, and where all they require is a lot of water and a good lunch at home afterward.
Look: I know the parents bringing the Kool-Aid and the Nutter Butters care just as much about their kids as I do. Which is why we all need to stop and consider what our children need, not what they want. My first grader would prefer to never brush his teeth ever again, and my toddler would like to play outside in his pajamas when it’s 40 degrees. But I know better. That’s my job as a parent.
So, what did I do with all of those leftover apples? I made a double batch of crockpot applesauce, which Henry and Sam devoured in less than 24 hours.
Oh, and t-ball season starts next week. Guess who’s going to be That Mom?
Note: Sally followed this post by stepping up and writing a letter to the t-ball coach with the aim of healthy sports snacks. You can find that here. It’s worth a read and would make a mighty fine template for your own letter, if you should be so brave!