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Dietician Stresses Importance Of Fueling Up Correctly For After-School Activities

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - As parents and students adjust to their back-to-school routines, you may be finding that your children are a little more sluggish than usual. Between after-school activities, homework and actual classes, kids have a lot on their plate.

But, there are things you can do to help your kids power through, especially when it comes to the foods they eat. By filling their body with some key nutrients, they'll have the energy they need to get everything done.

"There are a lot of kids that are involved in after-school sports, and a club sport on top of that, or they have a music lesson, dance lesson or whatever," says dietician Leslie Bonci. "If they eat their lunch at 10:30, and then this after school stuff doesn't start until 3 p.m. or maybe 6 p.m., they are starved. And then, guess what? Homework! So the brain has to be served, too."

One of the biggest problems is eating too much right before physical activity. Individual containers help keep portions in check. Bonci suggests that snacks eaten before activities should be about the size of a tennis ball.

"That only takes up so much room in the stomach, so somebody doesn't feel uncomfortable," says Bonci.

Just because the food is pre-processed doesn't mean it's bad, either. Wheat Thins are made from whole grains and are a good source of fiber. Beef jerky is a preserved meat, so you never have to worry about it spoiling. The same goes for hand-held wrap sandwiches.

Bonci suggests making one out of dark chocolate, peanut butter and banana.

"Great taste, but this could keep over the course of a day. That's my other worry, things that sit all day long," says Bonci. "This could keep. So you are getting the benefit of the potassium. You are getting the fat. You are getting the carbs, the protein. All good [things]."

Bonci also says trail mix is a good option.

"We don't have to buy the ones that are commercially prepared," says Bonci. "We can do it ourselves. So using a cereal, using freeze-dried fruit, using pistachios in here…. Roasted chick pea[s]. It provides a savory taste, because not everyone wants sweet."

By taking a little extra time to pack a pre-practice snack, you can help your family avoid fast food, or the vending machines. Bonci says it's not about what's in there – but what isn't.

"Very little fruit, vegetable[s]," says Bonci. "The protein is low because you can't keep that in a vending machine."

Healthier options will keep kids fuller longer, and give them the fuel they need to get through their busy day.

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