If this tweet spoke to you and your family’s dinner schedule with practices and games this fall, keep reading, mama!
Kristen Carroll is a Gilbert football mom whose family has learned to juggle meals and practice schedules; Her son Brady has football practice three times a week plus games, and her husband is the team coach.
As a nutrition coach, gym owner and football mama, we couldn’t think of a better expert to help share tips on keeping hungry, growing student athletes well fed during football season.
Below is a transcript of our interview, or, watch the live interview below! Thank you so much to our sponsor, Future for Football, for providing support to encourage families to celebrate the game at all levels. Find out more about their league finder below, too.
I’m so grateful to Future for Football for sponsoring this incredible resource today. Today we’re talking all about feeding football teen players.
We’ve all seen the sports family memes lately about dinner being either at 4:30 or 9:30 p.m. and Kristen knows how true that is all too well!
We got lots of questions about how to navigate keeping up with a student athletes hunger during sports season, especially on a budget.
Kristen is a football mom, nutrition coach, so who better to chat about this!
First, tell us about your family and football
My husband Michael and I are parents to two “bigs” now: they’re 12 and 15. Our son, the 12-year-old, is the football player.
We live in Gilbert, Arizona, and have two businesses, obviously the gym, so we are an active family who started playing rec sports years ago when they were little then our son wanted to play football so we started into flag football, my husband coached from the beginning, it’s all parent volunteer led.
So yes! We are active in the gym, on the football field!
How to the values your son learns on the football field translate at home, and with your husband coaching how has that football value system been even more bought into your family’s home life?
We have ‘coach dad’ and ‘home dad’ but definitely there’s a few that cross over, like hard work.
Sports does foster that classic skill–plus teamwork and knowing your roll on a team–that’s a big one–if you’re not playing your role you affect the full team.
My husband’s phrase is “attitude and effort.”
Those are the two biggest values we drive on the field and at home all the time. Those are two things they can control.
But we also love how football has taught our son how to be coachable, he has to be able to take feedback and apply it, but also keep working to improve.
Why do you love having your husband coach?
My husband and son have this thing together–and my husband has this really big role in his life because he is coaching–he did this for both of our kids (for my daughter until she got into high school sports).
I love that my husband and Brady have this bond over something that me, as the mom, isn’t really a part of, it’s a bonding opportunity for them.
Advice for families whose kids are just asking to start playing football?
My son has played both flag and tackle football–we liked flag football to learn the game, understand the full team aspect, etc.
It’s a really helpful knowledgeable you learn in flag football even if the child doesn’t go on to play tackle or anything–it’s just a great way to know the sport, which is helpful even as an adult.
Football is a commitment from time and expense as things progress–but flag football is a great starting point and pretty cost effective to start.
Feeding a football player is a lot of calories–you’re a nutrition coach and gym owner–what are you best tips for keeping student athletes fed this season?
Calories–that’s really my answer! Feeding kids is for growth and development, but on top of that with sports, we have to keep up with the output of calories, and then also for performance, especially when your teens start talking about wanting to build muscle.
So first thing, we want to ensure each child is getting enough calories to feed their brains, bodies, energy level.
In our house, we taught carbs/proteins/fats early on so my kids can look at a plate and know what they’re getting from each food item.
We shoot for balanced meals; we really focus on 4-5 mini meals for them instead of pumping up snacks. It’s more balanced, plus it’s really more affordable.
Snacks aren’t typically as satisfying typically, so mini meals provide filling, high-calorie meals.
So how do you really get that many meals ready for kids to grab and go?
Meal prepping, I know everyone wants a hack, but that’s it!
But ahead of that, it’s meal planning. So on Sundays, I do a ‘fridge inventory’ to shop what we already have at home and start there.
I make large batches of certain foods that can be made into a lot of different things, so there’s variety.
One secret of mine is to write out on the fridge some suggestions on what teens can use the foods that’s prepped for.
So for example: chicken. I’ll write down a few suggestions: quesadillas, chicken salad, nachos, etc.
Best pre practice/pre game snacks?
So right now football practice in our house starts around 6/6:30 p.m. so he’ll eat dinner around 4 p.m. So that now substitutes his afternoon snack, but then at 5:30 p.m. or so he’ll dig into a big bowl of fruit.
We really want carbs, and fruit is a quick digesting carb.
Plus then on the field they’ll have sports drinks, etc. to help during actual practice time.
Anything else we should know about how being a football family has impacted your family life?
It’s incredible–I love having my husband and son have this thing they can do together. It’s so fun to watch them grow, and also see my son want to improve and grow as an athlete in his skills.
Future For Football is an initiative by the National Football Foundation to promote and celebrate the game at all levels. To find a football league for your child, visit Future for Football’s local league finder.