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Choosing the right diet for kids can be difficult enough but which one will give kids the correct balance of nutrients? Particularly for those children engaged in high levels of exercise. The key is:1. The Right Foods 2. The Right Amount 3. The Right Fluids 1. The Right Foods The pre-game meal should consist of a small amount of protein, carbohydrates and fruit. E.g. -one boiled egg -a slice of wholemeal toast -an orange or glass of fresh orange juice The proteins and the carbohydrates are important both for energy and brain function. The fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C (with berries, citrus fruits and green vegetables being the best sources). The Vitamin C activates the iron stores in the body and this gives a sustained release of energy, so vital for fitness for kids. As important as the pre-game or pre-workout meal is, if kids don't eat healthily as a general rule they won't get the much needed nutrients necessary for optimum physical and mental growth, and vitality. So choosing from the following foods and reducing their intake of the obvious "junk" and packaged foods is imperative. The key foods are:-nuts & seeds -fresh fruit and vegetables, raw is best. -eggs, fish, seafood, meat and chicken in small amounts -grains in the form of wholemeal breads and crackers in small amounts 2. The Right Amount The amount of food plays an important role in fitness for kids as people often overfeed their children. The extra weight not only weighs the child down but can also cause fatigue, slow reaction time, muddled thinking that can all lead to a low performance or worse still, an injury. Parents and carers often worry about the amount of food their kids are eating. Like there should be a set formula.

The amount will vary from child to child and also from day to day. A child may not be hungry one day and ravenous the next. Their nutritional needs will change according to their growth spurts, the amount of exercise and even the amount of mental stimulation. The most important factor is to be sure that they don't have much sweets or junk food in their diet so that you know what they are eating is of the greatest benefit. Also, check objectively that they are the correct weight to their height ratio. Be honest with yourself and if you see they are overweight then go over their diet again to make sure that you haven't been slipping and giving them too much food overall and/or too much junk foods. 3. The Right Fluids Optimal fluids for exercise for children are water and sometimes fresh juices. During exercise it should be water only. The sports drinks are laden with artificial chemicals, flavours and sugar that do more harm than good to your child's performance. The sugar causes their blood glucose levels to spike and trough and this, coupled with the artificial flavours and chemicals can cause their thinking to become confused or erratic and their energy levels to exhaust. Water is exactly what they need and will replenish fluids perfectly. As long as their meals pre and post both games and training are healthy as described above, their electrolytes will be replaced appropriately. Fitness for kids is imperative and should be taken seriously as should their diet. If you follow the simple guidelines above you will see an improvement in your child's health, exercise performance and even their mental acuity.

Sirkka Wolke ND is a clinical Naturopath and Nutritionist at Health, Herbs & Healing Clinic in Oatley, Sydney. Wolke is the highly acclaimed Author of FitKid7- 7 Simple Steps for a Fit & Healthy Child and produced the Sleep Easy CD - Helping Kids & Adults Get To Sleep. Available at [] Wolke is also the Editor of Tribe Magazine- Empowering Parents/ Inspiring Kids.

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==== ==== If you'd like to find out more about health and fitness for children ==== ====

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