Everyone has heard the phrase that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet about 20-30 percent of children and adolescents skip breakfast. Whether this is because they are running late, they aren’t hungry, they feel rushed, or everything else is more important than eating.
Skipping breakfast can cause your child to feel tired, restless, and irritable. Especially when they are at school for the next 6 hours. Skipping breakfast can also cause your child to snack more often throughout the day, overeat at meals, and want to eat late at night.
Health Benefits Of Breakfast
Breakfast is essential for kids who are going to school. It gives their brain fuel. Children who eat breakfast before school perform better academically. Breakfast can enhance their on task learning, academic performance, and student behavior.
Breakfast can also help a child eat healthier overall.
Children who eat breakfast tend to also be more active. Breakfast can help kick start their metabolism, which can help with obesity, and weight gain.
Healthy Breakfast Components
The ideal breakfast for your child should have a few components. Foods that you should incorporate in your child’s breakfast are fruit, a hearty source of carbohydrates that also have some fiber, as well as a good source of protein.
Any type of fruit is good, even frozen, this could be berries, apples, or bananas. Whatever your child likes.
Carbohydrates, think of whole grains, whole grain bread, bagels, tortillas, or oatmeal.
Protein sources could be eggs, beans, nuts, poultry, or meat.
Think outside the box of normal breakfast foods. Sugary cereals may not be the best option for your child to help fuel their brain and keep them from getting hungry shortly after getting to school.
Food Choices are More Important than Food Quantity
When serving your child breakfast, think about quality not quantity. If your child isn’t hungry in the morning, forcing them to eat a whole egg and a whole piece of toast may be so repelling to them that they don’t want to eat anything. Big portions can feel overwhelming to some children. Serve breakfast family style if time permits it so your child can take how much they want. Or you can portion food options out in tiny storage containers.
Convenience & Portability
Making breakfasts that can be convenient and sometimes even portable may also be better for your children. If your child can grab and go, that can work out well so they don’t feel like they have to eat immediately after waking up. In some cases children may be able to eat between classes at school so giving them a portable option they can pull out later can also be helpful.
To have breakfast be easier on the parents, try to prep as much as you can beforehand. This can be making big batches of breakfasts that are reheated in the morning, or getting all the plates and utensils out the night before.
If eating breakfast is a non-negotiable for you, make that known to your child. Tell them they have to eat something before walking out the door. But let them help you decide how much they need or want, and come up with options you are both happy with.
Eggs are a staple breakfast food. They are normally thought of when you are thinking about options for breakfast. Eggs are easy, versatile, and are packed high in protein. Eggs can help your child feel fuller for longer and they are a great source of nutrients and protein.
There are lots of options you can make for breakfast with eggs besides just the normal scrambled, or fried. You can make egg muffins, these can also be made with added sausage, bacon, or hidden vegetables. Egg muffins can be made ahead of time, kept in the fridge, and reheated when ready to eat.
Hard boiled eggs are another great option for a made ahead, quick breakfast. Ham-cheese frittatas or breakfast burritos are other options of egg breakfasts.
Whole grain oats are high in fiber, high in protein, high in vitamins and minerals. Whole grain oats are much better than refined oats in their quality of nutrition. Breakfasts to make with whole grain oats are overnight oats, baked oatmeal, oat muffins, quinoa, or protein pancakes.
Breakfast Drinks – Smoothies
Don’t dismiss liquid breakfasts. Smoothies with a source of protein and fruit can be just as healthy, and as filling for your child as a yogurt parfait. If your child would rather drink their breakfast in the morning, stocking your freezer with some frozen fruits may be a great option.
Smoothies can be a two handed sword. On one end they can increase the amount of fruit and vegetable servings your child is getting. Children who drank a smoothie once a day increased their daily fruit and vegetable intake. But smoothies tend to be higher in calories, which can lead to weight gain if portions aren’t controlled.
Some smoothie ideas are chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie, or a strawberry almond butter smoothie. The key to a good smoothie is having a good source of fruit, a source of vegetables, a source of healthy fats to keep you fuller for longer, and adding in protein is another great bonus.
Smoothies can also be fun for your child to play around with different flavor combinations.
Other breakfast ideas are whole grain toast with avocado, or waffles with nut butter.
Some different ideas that aren’t considered breakfast foods are leftover pizza, deli meat wrap, or even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Eating something in the morning helps your child’s brain fuel, their metabolism, their growing body, and their academic performance. Focus on quality not quantity. Planning ahead and discussing breakfast the night before can also help your child not feel rushed or caught off guard in the mornings with options.
Breakfast can enhance a child's academic performance and behavior! Need ideas to help fuel your morning? #HealthSurgeon
READ MORE: 15 Ways To Super Charge Breakfast
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