School is back in session, which also means fall sports are here! As children spend afternoons, evenings, and weekends participating in their favorite activities, it is important to keep them properly fueled before and after.
Childhood is a key time of development, especially for children’s bone health, and children can exert a great deal of energy playing sports. Unfortunately, many of the most common snacks are not exactly the kinds that provide proper fuel, much less promote healthy growth.
Supporting bone mass during childhood and adolescence is critical to healthy bones later in life. By the age of 18, we have attained at least 90 percent of our bone mass. This is why the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy a day for children ages nine and older.
Nutrients needed for bone health are primarily calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D affects the absorption of calcium, whereas calcium itself builds bone tissue. Phosphorous and protein are also important for bone health. The health benefits of dairy provide rich sources of calcium, vitamin D, phosphorous, and protein.
Fortunately, there are many exciting ways to incorporate milk, cheese, and yogurt into children’s diets. Here are some kid-friendly dairy recipes that will help your child get his or her daily dose of dairy and sustain them while participating in sports and other activities:
- Apple Turkey Cheese Roll-Ups
- Cheddar, Pear, and Cranberry Muffins
- Cheesy Broccoli Bites
- Cinna-Crunch Power Smoothie
- FroYo Monkey Tails
- Peanut Butter Whip with Apples
- Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Bars
Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD is the President of Dunaway Dietetics, Inc., a nutrition consulting business, and the co-founder of My Menu Pal, a menu planning website for busy families. Ann specializes in weight management, sports nutrition, recipe development and family nutrition.