Breakfast is often said to be the most important meal of the day. This is true for adults, but this is especially true for children. There are lots of reasons why breakfast is especially important for children.
1) ENERGY – If your child skips breakfast, it may well be 13-16 hours since their last meal before they get to eat again, especially in school. That is a long time for child, who needs calories to support their growing body, and to fuel their brain to learn at school!
2) BRAIN POWER- Studies show that children who eat breakfast have better attention spans, do better on tests, and even have fewer behavior problems than those who skip breakfast.
3) WEIGHT- Eating breakfast is an important tool in kick starting your metabolism, and beginning the process of burning calories. Breakfast also helps keep weight in check by preventing overeating later in the day. If they are over hungry when they finally eat their next meal, children are more likely to consume too many calories, or snack on whatever comes their way, healthy or not.
So now that we know why it is an important meal of the day, let’s talk about what should be eaten at breakfast time. I like to make sure breakfast includes protein, fiber and a bit of fat. These are the things that keep us full and fuel us the longest.
Some good options; Oatmeal, banana with peanut butter, yogurt with berries and nuts, cereal with berries (make sure it is a high quality cereal with whole grains and very little added sugar) hard Boiled egg and a piece of fruit.
We all know that almost nobody’s house has breakfast that looks like the above with happy, smiling children with perfectly cooked and prepared breakfast meal and nota care in the world. It’s not everyday that we have the time in the morning to whip up eggs, pancakes, or bake fresh, whole grain muffins. Between getting everyone ready for the day with teeth brushing, maybe helping younger kids dress themselves, and everything else that has to happen in the morning, for some it’s a miracle to get out the door. That doesn’t mean that we need to go without breakfast. Let’s go over some suggestions to make it happen.
Some strategies to encourage eating breakfast
Make ahead and freeze:
Make a batch of muffins, breakfast burritos, or oatmeal ahead of time and freeze individually. Then all you have to do is pop them in the toaster oven or microwave to defrost. One recipe I’ve successfully made and frozen is a batch of whole wheat apple cinnamon muffins – from SmittenKitchen.com. I add some chia seeds to the mix, and use low fat greek yogurt, and use about 1/2 the sugar when I make them to make them a bit more healthy.
Set an example – Make sure you are setting an example and prioritizing eating breakfast as well. Kids will follow suit.
Get dressed and “wake up” a bit before eating – It may take a bit of time for the body to wake up and send those hunger signals to the brain. Children may be more willing to eat if given the chance to wake up a bit and realize that they are hungry.
No late night snacks- Some children may not be hungry in the morning if they are allowed a late night snack.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and even though we know why breakfast is important, what it should include, and now even have some tips about how to fit in food along with everything else that has to happen in the morning, it can still be a struggle. How do you try to help your family get in breakfast everyday?