Healthy Kids: Breakfast-One of the Most Important Meals of the Day
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Statistically speaking, kids who eat breakfast are more alert and perform better on school tests than kids who skip it. They also have better attendance records. In general, children who eat meals at set times throughout the day are better able to regulate their appetite and as a result, less likely to overeat or snack on fatty, sugary foods. So starting off the day with a nutritious breakfast is one of the first steps toward developing healthy eating habits and attaining good health.
A child’s overall nutrition improves when they eat breakfast, so breakfast skippers tend to feel tired and irritable in the morning. Why is this? Because after an 8 to 10 hour night’s sleep, your child’s body needs to replenish its “fuel.” A balanced breakfast will supply this fuel, providing maximum energy not only for the morning but throughout the whole day as well.
Although eating breakfast is important, what is eaten for breakfast is equally important. Many kids who eat breakfast feel tired and hungry just a few hours later. If this sounds like your child, chances are she’s not eating the proper mix of foods. A combination of protein and carbohydrates, for example, is key as it helps maintain the blood sugar and ward off hunger. Some foods to avoid for the morning meal are sugary, high fat foods, such as sugared cereal, scones, donuts and cinnamon rolls. After eating a breakfast consisting of those foods, blood sugar levels will surge (which can result in restlessness) and after an hour they’ll plummet, leaving your child hungry again (not to mention with unbalanced blood sugar levels which can result in depression and moodiness).
A balanced breakfast should provide at least one food from three or more food groups. It should include high fiber foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, dry beans, nuts and seeds. And fat content should be reduced. As a busy, working mom of four, I understand how hectic things can get in the morning. Some healthy grab-and-go breakfast ideas I use with my kids are a hard boiled egg with a mini bagel and a banana, or low-fat drinkable yogurt, grapes and dry cereal in a paper cup. Another favorite is a toasted whole grain waffle with peanut butter and a small 100% fruit juice box. For those kids who love snack bars, try a healthy granola bar (kasha, kind bar, kids z-bar) with mixed berries in a sandwich baggie and low-fat milk in a paper coffee cup.