Your child athlete is heading back to school and that means more practices, more games and bigger appetites. Every child should eat a nutritious, balanced diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, proteins and whole grains. But, the more active your child is, the more healthy foods and water they will need to stay strong and on top of their game.

On days that your child has a game or practice, in addition to eating healthy meals, you’ll want to consider the energy they’ll need to get through a full day of school and a post-dismissal practice and how to manage the intake of nutrient-rich foods properly.

Before the Game/Practice:
KidsHealth.org suggests that players eat a carbohydrate rich meal that includes a low fat protein at least three hours BEFORE game or practice. The site also recommends avoiding high-fiber and fatty foods that may cause some athletes an upset stomach.

Carb rich foods, like whole-grain pastas, provide your child athlete with the fuel their body needs to score those points and get through all of practice. Additionally, the low-fat proteins like fish, beans and soy products will give your Derek Jeter-to-be the nutrients they need to build muscle.

During practice or the big game, your child should constantly be hydrating with water: not soda, juice or other sugary drinks that claim to provide athletic enhancement through their beverage. That equates to about 5 to 9 oz. of fluid every 15 minutes or around four cups per hour, according to Dr. Cesar Lara.

After the Game/Practice:
Once practice or the game has finished, similar to a car after a long road trip, your child will need to be fueled up. KidsHealth.orgrecommends eating a carb rich snack within 30 minutes to help replenish energy stores and then again two hours later.

The post-game meal, says KidsHealth, is just as important as the pre-game meal but for different reasons. Before the game children’s food choices should be geared to energizing and sustaining their body during play. While afterwards, they should consume food to help their body repair. Incorporating healthy fats, including Omega-3, into meals will help achieve the goal of aiding the body’s rebuilding systems, says Livestrong.com contributor Mike Samuels.

Keeping Track of Intake:
With all the running around your family does, it might seem difficult to keep track of every meal your child eats and make sure they’re getting the recommended amount of physical activity, (which is 60 minutes a day for kids and teens).

But actually, The Florida Dairy Council—which has partnered with the NFL to create the Fuel to Play 60 program— offers kids the chance to sign up at www.FuelUpToPlay60.FloridaMilk.com and track their healthy eating and physical activity goals. They can also meet other kids in the community all while helping lead others to live healthier lives.

You’ll get a chance to meet The Florida Dairy Council team at the Back to School Fair on August 9 where they’ll have great samples of healthy and tasty treats. St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital will also be on hand with fun and informative safety scavenger hunts, as well as valuable health information. They’ll also have affordable child safety products available at their on-site Safety Store.

For some easy, nutrient-rich snacks and meals, visit TBParenting.com/quickrecipes.