It’s a back to school basic 101…Eat your breakfast everyday!
WHY? You ask?! Too many good reasons…
You probably heard it from your own parents: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! But now you’re the one saying it — to your sleepy, frazzled, grumpy kids, who insist “I’m not hungry” as you try to get everyone fed and moving in the morning.
Why Bother With Breakfast?
Breakfast is a great way to give the body the refueling it needs. Kids who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier overall and are more likely to participate in physical activities.
Skipping breakfast can make kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. In the morning, their bodies need to refuel for the day ahead after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during sleep. Their mood and energy can drop by midmorning if they don’t eat at least a small morning meal.
Breakfast also can help keep kids’ weight in check. Breakfast kick-starts the body’s metabolism, the process by which the body converts the fuel in food to energy. And when the metabolism gets moving, the body starts burning calories. This is so important to consider, as obesity and juvenile diabetes continues to be on the rise.
Breakfast Brain Power
It’s important for kids to have breakfast every day, but what they eat in the morning is crucial too. Choosing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar may boost kids’ attention span, concentration, and memory — which they need to learn in school.
They also tend to have lower blood cholesterol levels, and fewer absences from school, and make fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger.
Making Breakfast Happen
It would be great to serve whole-grain waffles, fresh fruit, and low-fat milk each morning. But it can be difficult to make a healthy breakfast happen when you’re rushing to get yourself and the kids ready in the morning and juggling the general household chaos.
So try these practical suggestions to ensure that — even in a rush — your kids get a good breakfast before they’re out the door:
- stock your kitchen with healthy breakfast options
- prepare as much as you can the night before (gets dishes ready, cut up fruit, etc.)
- get everyone up 10 minutes earlier
- let kids help plan and prepare breakfast
- have grab-and-go alternatives (fresh fruit, yogurt or smoothies, trail-mix) on days when there is little or no time to eat
If kids aren’t hungry first thing in the morning, be sure to pack a breakfast that they can eat a little later on the bus or between classes. Fresh fruit, cereal, nuts, or half a peanut butter and banana sandwich are nutritious, easy to make, and easy for kids to take along.
What not to serve for breakfast is important too. Sure, toaster pastries and some breakfast bars are portable, easy, and appealing to kids. But many have no more nutritional value than a candy bar and are high in sugar and calories. Read the nutrition labels carefully before you toss these breakfast bars and pastries into your shopping cart.
Breakfast Ideas to Try
The morning meal doesn’t have to be all about traditional breakfast items. You can mix it up to include different foods, even the leftovers from last night’s dinner, and still provide the nutrients and energy kids need for the day.
Try to serve a balanced breakfast that includes some healthy carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. Carbs are a good source of immediate energy for the body. Energy from protein tends to kick in after the carbs are used up. Fiber helps provide a feeling of fullness and helps move food through the digestive system, preventing constipation and lowering cholesterol.
Good sources of these nutrients include:
- carbohydrates: whole-grain cereals, brown rice, whole-grain breads and muffins, fruits, vegetables
- protein: low-fat or nonfat dairy products, lean meats, eggs, nuts (including nut butters), seeds, and cooked dried beans
- fiber: whole-grains; bran, and other grains; fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts
Here are some ideas for healthy breakfasts to try:
- whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and a cup of yogurt
- whole-wheat pita stuffed with sliced hard-cooked eggs
- hot whole grain cereal topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or cloves
- peanut butter on a whole-grain bagel with fresh fruit (banana or apple wedges) and low-fat milk
- breakfast smoothie (low-fat milk, peanut butter or yogurt, fruit, and teaspoon of bran or flax, whirled in a blender)
- vegetable omelet with whole-wheat toast and orange juice
- yogurt with berries
- hummus on whole-wheat pita and milk
And don’t forget how important your good example is! Let your kids see you making time to enjoy breakfast every day. You’re showing how important it is to face the day only after refueling your brain and body with a healthy morning meal.
(cited from kidshealth.org)
How do you make breakfast a priority in your mornings?!