Breakfast really is the MOST IMPORTANT meal of the day. This statement is true for both adults and kids- so set a good example by always eating breakfast yourself. Parents need to eat breakfast daily in order to power through that long to-do list of errands and loads of laundry. Kids need breakfast even more to fuel their growing bodies and developing brains, especially after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during the night. Skipping breakfast can leave your kid feeling tired, agitated or irritable by mid-morning. Kids who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, have lower blood cholesterol levels and fewer absences from school.
Breakfast = Brain Power
It’s important for kids to consume breakfast every day, but what they eat is equally important. Help your kid earn straight A’s by serving a nutritious breakfast to increase their attention span, concentration and memory. A breakfast for scholars includes an excellent fiber source and lean protein. Research shows that fueling your kids with complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber (like oatmeal and fruit) instead of simple, low fiber carbohydrates (like doughnuts) will help them stay more focused on their schoolwork throughout the morning.
What NOT To Eat for Breakfast
Abandon the toaster pastries, sugar-coated cereals and breakfast bars that have no more nutritional value than a candy bar. These options are high in empty calories and sugar with little to no nutrition. Fruit juices often try to disguise themselves as a healthy breakfast beverage by featuring “100% juice” or “no sugar added” but in reality, they are little more than a fortified soft drink. Soda isn’t considered healthy if you add in vitamin C, so neither is juice. Whole fruit provides more nutrition and fewer calories with the added benefit of fiber, so always stick with whole fruit instead of juice. A sugar-loaded breakfast will only lead to a sugar crash by mid-morning, leaving your kids feeling lethargic, hungry, and distracted. Read the nutrition facts label before placing any processed breakfast items in your shopping cart. These items might be tempting for your kids and your busy schedule, but the time spent finding healthier options will be worth it in the end, especially at report card time.
Try these quick and fast breakfast solutions so your kids eat a good breakfast before they rush out the door:
- Hummus on whole wheat pita with 1% or fat-free milk
- Lean turkey on a toasted English muffin
- Reduced-fat cream cheese and fresh fruit on a whole grain bagel
- Make mini breakfast pizzas on whole-wheat English muffins with marinara sauce, scrambled eggs, topped lightly with cheese
- Yogurt-oatmeal parfait with fresh or frozen fruit
- Use whole wheat flour and flaxseeds to add fiber to blueberry muffins; use canola oil or replace half the butter with applesauce to lessen the amount of saturated fat in muffins
- Rice cakes stacked with bananas, blueberries and low-fat strawberry cream cheese
- Apple slice sandwiches with peanut butter, dry oatmeal and raisins in the middle
- Fresh fruit salad with yogurt dip
- Ready-to-go smoothie made with low-fat milk, yogurt,or fortified soy milk and added fruits with a dash of bran. Tip: If your kids don’t mind the color green, you can often slip in some spinach without changing the taste.
- Consider these toppings to make old-fashioned oatmeal more appealing: cinnamon or cocoa powder, dried fruit, toasted nuts, fresh or frozen fruit, jam, applesauce or flaxseeds
- Breakfast burrito made with a whole-wheat tortilla, scrambled eggs and salsa
Jordyn Forsyth is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She specializes in weight management, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Jordyn strives to educate, empower and encourage others to make sustainable lifestyle changes. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Baylor University and a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University.