What's for breakfast?
Ever wonder where breakfast got it's name from? Break fast, or first meal upon waking up. During the night your body rests but it requires fuel to take you through the day. Depending on how you break your fast is how well your day will go. Breakfast is especially important for children and, although breakfast cereals are the quick and easy option, natural foods are better for healthy growth and healthy minds.
Dieticians refer to breakfast as the most important meal of the day, citing studies that show that people who skip breakfast are disproportionately likely to have problems with concentration, metabolism, and weight. Children are less able to concentrate during school lessons and feel tired and lethargic as the morning wears on.
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.
Kids who eat breakfast are more likely to get fibre, calcium, and other important nutrients. They also tend to keep their weight under control, 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 and utensils 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, individual boxes of cereal, yogurt or smoothies) 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.
You may also want to check out the breakfasts offered at school or daycare. Some offer breakfasts and provide them for free or at reduced prices for families with limited incomes. If your kids eat breakfast outside the home, talk with them about how to make healthy selections.
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 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. Fibre helps provide a feeling of fullness and, therefore, discourages overeating. And when combined with adequate liquid consumption, fibre 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 non fat dairy products, lean meats, eggs, nuts (including nut butters), seeds, and cooked dried beans
- fibre: whole-grain breads, waffles, and cereals; brown rice, bran, and other grains; fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts
And don't forget how important your good example is. Let your kids see you making time to enjoy breakfast every day. Even if you just wash down some whole-wheat toast and a banana with a glass of juice or milk, you're showing how important it is to face the day only after refueling your brain and body with a healthy morning meal.
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