Kicking Junkie Sports Snacks off the Field

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.

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!


05.09.2012 at11:29 AM #


Those Granny Smiths certainly helped my Granny White. Her motto which she stuck to was “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. She lived to age 85 having never spent a day of her life in a hospital 🙂

Thank you for sharing the above, i also see what monthly snack contributions are brought to my daughter’s pre-school by other parents and it’s not pretty. Fresh fruit and homemade popcorn are an easy, healthy substitute.

05.09.2012 at2:49 PM #


As a “soccer mom” myself, I completely share your frustration regarding soccer snacks. When I was a kid, back in the day, we got one soda and probably some orange slices after our games. Yes, as kids we really looked forward to that soda, and no, it is not a healthy post game fuel choice, however, the soda was it! Now it is soda, and bags of treats, candy and cookies! Ridiculous! My 9 yr. old daughter has now played select soccer for the last 2 years, and blessedly, all the parents have voted not to bring snacks for the entire team anymore. Yay!! Stay strong with the healthy snacks soccer moms, or do what we did and suggest that all the parents opt out of the responsibility of bringing them at all. Worked for us!:)

05.09.2012 at2:49 PM #

Katie Morford

Thanks Tiffany. I’m all for skipping the snack or doing what we did when we were kids: orange slices and a cooler of water!

05.09.2012 at6:34 PM #

Sally Kuzemchak

I completely agree that the kids don’t even need a snack after a sports practice. And I think most parents would be thrilled to get out of snack duty completely. But I’ve been pushing for a fruit-and-water policy on my son’s teams because it seems like a good compromise and most kids don’t eat enough fruit every day as it is. And it’s fun to watch them grab for the apples and bananas like it was Fritos and Capri-Sun! Thanks for sharing my post, Katie!

05.10.2012 at2:57 PM #

Trina Robertson

I’ve read Sally’s post before and think of it often. Not only do we have snack after the game but we also have the snack bar to fill tummies before and after practices or sibiling’s games. It is hard to control the constant access to snacks without coming down so hard that they start sneaking food. I try to stress moderation, choosing foods then a small treat, and pray with age they will remember my recommendations of choosing a food-group snack.

I’m not completely hard core, I am bringing chocolate covered frozen bananas to my son’s baseball game this weekend because I honestly don’t think they’d eat a plain banana at 11 or 12 years old. My choice would be no snack at all and higher prices at the snack bar. Really a large soft pretzel and a churro for $2? That’s a lot of calories and few nutrients. Thanks for letting me share.

05.10.2012 at2:57 PM #

Katie Morford

I don’t understand why snack bars can’t do a better job of selling food with kid appeal that is also relatively wholesome. Thanks for the input, Trina.

05.22.2012 at8:43 AM #

Sarah Copeland {edible living}

Such an important topic! It’s funny how treats sneak their way into almost every aspect of life with kids. Greta is only 18 months, and I’m already learning how hard it is not to be that mom, because if you do something fun outdoors with other kids most summer days (meet in the garden, picnics, sports, pool play) there’s suddenly too many opportunities to give into snacks and sweets just because….. but I love the lead by example idea of offering delish alternatives that kids can’t refuse.

We always had oranges and watermelon after soccer and I thought it was just about the best thing ever. That’s still my go-to refreshing sweet after sports (for me) or outdoor play (for Greta).

05.25.2012 at9:07 PM #


As assigned snack mom for my son’s soccer game, and exhausted from the overwhelming stream of processed goodies offered to my kids every where we go, I opted for a healthy, but yummy snack choice. I sliced green apples, placed in plastic baggies with a pinch of cinnamon-sugar in each. I give these to my kiddos all the time, and they say it tastes like apple pie. When I offered them to the team, I got unanimous, “No thank you’s” and dejected faces. One of the dads inspected my offering and declared, “You need to work on your packaging!” Good point! How can ordinary plastic bags compete with brightly colored foil wrapped cartoon character emblazoned packages? I am open to suggestions and thank you for this post. I could certainly relate.

05.25.2012 at9:07 PM #

Katie Morford

That sounds like a perfectly tasty snack…how disappointing. Kids do respond to presentation, though. I’ve had good luck bringing cold, sliced watermelon wedges and these “cut as a cupcake berries” They can b e made with any seasonal, cut fruit. If using apples or other fruits that browns, you can drizzle with a squeeze of lemon to minimize the browning.

07.05.2013 at11:04 AM #

Rehana blake

Nice article , very well written!

07.05.2013 at11:04 AM #

Rehana blake

Please do check out my blog on acai berries! Thanks

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