You and your kids need energy to ski all day. It starts with a great breakfast before hitting the slopes. Essi Kenttala is a Colorado-based nutritional consultant. She says it's important to have complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains.
"They are going to be your primary fuel for anything your body does. Avoid sugars and sweets as they have no nutritional value. Make hot oatmeal with berries and fruit for breakfast." She also suggests low-fat yogurt, peanut butter, or lean turkey.
Kids in the Stratton Mountain Ski School in southern Vermont get a few snack breaks during the day. Alison Cummings has run the Junior Programs, for kids ages 4-14 years, for 27 years. She says their kids in ski school get a mid-morning hot chocolate break, a nutritious lunch, and an afternoon snack break.
Alison thinks it's ok to put something in the kids' pockets for a gondola snack. Some suggestions include raisins, a granola bar, string cheese, Fig Newtons, or apple slices. "It's better to have something that will give them a quick jolt of nutrition as opposed to candy. Be sure and put it on their inside pocket, so it doesn't freeze.
"No carbs, no action. If you don't have carbs in your system, you're going to be tired. Keep your blood sugar level high enough so that you don't bonk and lose energy. That could cause light headedness, blurred vision, tiredness, and fatigue. You don't need that when you are on the slopes." Other snack suggestions include bagels, carrots, celery sticks, dried fruits, and nuts.
Another decision for families is whether to eat at the on-mountain restaurant or brown bag it. You can make sandwiches, and bring healthy snacks in a backpack for lunch. Some lodges and lunch spots have specific eating areas for those who have brought their lunch. You also could do a little bit of both.
Perhaps bring your lunch, but buy a banana and share an energy drink. Kenttala says to avoid the fats and French fries. "If you have a very fatty meal, you can't even ski after that; you are too tired. Have some carrots instead of fries. More and more restaurants are offering choices," she says.
Kids have their own restaurant at Vail Mountain, Colo. It's called Chaos Canyon Kids' Cafe, and it's in the lower level of the Mid-Vail restaurant building. Chaos Canyon is designed for kids and their families. The ski school instructors take their classes there. There's a salad and baked potato bar, burgers, chicken fingers, cookies, and more. You pay for the buffet. It's out of the way and very convenient. Kids, as well as adults, love it.
It's also a good idea for parents to carry some snacks in their pockets to keep the kids happy. Make sure to take lots of breaks and get water drinks because you are at a higher altitude.
Kenttala adds it is crucial to stay hydrated when you are skiing. "Definitely have a lot of water in the morning, or 100 percent fruit juice. You will be very tired even if you are two percent dehydrated."
Ed Burke, Ph.D., and John Siefert, Ph.D., say in their article, Drink Up! The Importance Of Staying Hydrated While Skiing, skiers need to make a conscious effort to maintain hydration.
"This is because the very nature of skiing - with its potentially high levels of exertion in the cold, dry air of the mountain environment - makes skiers susceptible to dehydration and the negative effects associated with it. Dehydration, which occurs whenever fluid is lost from the body faster than it can be ingested, is probably the most common cause of premature fatigue during a long day of skiing.
"Even small degrees of dehydration can impair physiological function and hinder skiing performance. Moreover, dehydration can contribute to accidents, injuries, hypothermia, frostbite, and acute mountain sickness," they write.