You often hear breakfast described as the most important meal of the day. While all meals are important, breakfast is crucial because it breaks the fast that occurs overnight while you and your children are sleeping. Skipping breakfast has been linked with poor concentration, decreased productivity levels and memory troubles. Skipping breakfast can also affect weight control, making it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. With a few tips, you can help encourage your children to acquire the healthy habit of eating breakfast every morning.
What to Eat
Although KidsHealth.org notes that any breakfast is better than no breakfast, it is best to prepare foods that contain whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products and fruit, rather than foods that are high in sugar, refined grains and excess calories. Avoid high-sugar breakfast items like doughnuts, pastries and sugary cereals. While these items may be convenient, they aren't nutritious and they won't keep you feeling full for very long.
The early hours are undoubtedly a busy time for you and your children. If you're like many parents, you probably leave just enough time to throw on some clothes and rush out the door to take your kids to school or make it to work on time. Make an effort to wake up earlier to leave enough time to eat breakfast. Don't just encourage your children to eat while you sip a cup of black coffee; instead, sit down and eat breakfast together. Model healthy eating behaviors for your children.
Foods to Eat at Home
When you leave the house without eating breakfast, you're denying yourself the fuel that you need to get through the morning. Your body lacks glucose, the sugar that supplies energy to your brain, which is obtained through the foods you eat. By mid-morning, you may lack concentration, and your children may have a hard time staying focused in school. An extra half-hour in the morning can leave you with enough time to prepare a sit-down breakfast that you and your children can enjoy together. Serve scrambled eggs with a slice of whole-wheat toast. Flavor the eggs with a sprinkle of cheese or mix in a kid-friendly ranch dressing mix before scrambling. Prepare bowls of oatmeal, then add fresh berries, bananas or nuts. Top a bowl of cold cereal with fresh fruit, and encourage your child to drink the milk left in the bowl.
Foods to Go
Despite your best intentions, there will be days when you do not have enough time to sit for breakfast. Rely on portable breakfast items to fuel your body. Fill a plastic container with low-fat yogurt and add fresh fruit, such as blueberries or strawberries, and nuts, such as almonds or walnuts. Spread peanut butter on a whole wheat waffle and top with sliced banana. Or prepare a quick, homemade trail mix by tossing low-fat granola cereal with raisins and nuts.
- Kids Health; Ready, Set, Breakfast; Mary L. Gavin; September 2010
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; The Importance of Breakfast; 2009
- "The New York Times"; The Claim: Skipping Breakfast Can Affect Your Mood and Energy Levels During the Day; Anahad O'Connor; February 21, 2006
- MayoClinic.com; Breakfast: Why Does Eating Breakfast Help Control Weight?; July 25, 2009
- MayoClinic.com; Healthy Breakfast: Quick, Flexible Options to Grab at Home; February 10, 2011
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