Making a healthy breakfast for your kids is easy enough to learn, but many parents experience problems when it comes to convincing their children to eat that healthy breakfast. Children seem somewhat disinclined to eat in the mornings and it can be a struggle for even the most patient of parents. Some parents also struggle when it comes to understanding completely what constitutes a good breakfast and what the breakfast should include in order to be classified as a healthy option for their children. Two main components characterize a good breakfast:
- It is healthy
- It is interesting enough that your kids want to eat it
Why Breakfast For Your Kids Is So Important
From a very early age you probably remember parents and teachers alike telling you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, something that you, as a child, simply did not take any notice of. Now as a parent you find yourself trying to convince your children of the same fact that you could not comprehend when you were the same age. Breakfast is, quite literally, the most important meal of the day. The main reason for this is that it serves as a way to recharge after the activities of the previous day and a long night’s rest. It therefore prepares you for the day ahead. Children who eat an adequate breakfast in the mornings are more likely to have a successful day at school or play group. Children who eat a healthy breakfast also tend to do the following:
- Eat healthier overall
- Participate in physical activities during the day
Consequently this is one of the best ways to ensure that your child maintains a good weight and that their overall health is kept at a good level.
There are a number of disadvantages to skipping breakfast. Children who skip breakfast tend to be tired and irritable by midmorning. It is therefore important that you provide breakfast for your children in the mornings and that you reinforce the fact that it is good for them to eat. Even if they only eat a small portion in the morning, it will still help them refuel after 8 to 12 hours of sleeping without eating.
Eating breakfast gets your metabolism going for the day. Metabolism is the process through which the food that you eat is transformed into energy for fueling your body. This prevents the food from becoming fat and ensures that it goes towards useful functions such as providing energy for the day. Consequently eating a good breakfast in the mornings is a natural way to keep your child’s weight in check. Skipping breakfast causes you to feel hungry throughout the rest of the day, increasing the chances that you will consume more calories and therefore run the risk of being overweight.
What Should Breakfast Consist Of?
Clearly it is not enough to simply ensure that your children eat breakfast as what breakfast for your kids consists of is also of crucial importance. There are some breakfasts that are better for refueling and weight watching functions than others, and certain foodstuffs, if consumed for breakfast on a regular basis, can even in some ways be detrimental to your child. Ideally you want to prepare meals that are:
- Rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while
- Low in added sugar
If you are consistently able to provide breakfast options that meet the above mentioned requirements you will improve your child’s attention span, concentration, and memory, all of which are essential for their success in a schooling environment. Essentially what you need to keep in mind when preparing breakfast for your kids is whether or not the dish you are making is sufficient to prepare them adequately for the day ahead. With older children the benefits of a healthy breakfast can be explained to them. Some older children, for example, may be disinclined to eat on the day of a test on the basis that they are too nervous. A simple explanation that a good breakfast may improve their chances on the test could be all it takes to have your child eat breakfast on that particular morning. Children who eat a good breakfast will benefit from the following, all of which can be explained to them once they are old enough to understand:
- They will receive the correct amount of fiber, calcium, and other important nutrients
- They will find it far easier to keep their weight under control (a good motivator for girls)
- They will have lower blood cholesterol levels
- They are likely to experience fewer absences from school
- Last but not least that will have fewer trips to the school nurse with stomach complaints related to hunger
Tips For Getting Breakfast Going In The Mornings
A primary challenge when it comes to breakfast for your kids is making sure that it actually happens. Mornings are the busiest time of the day and there are so many things that you need to do when preparing your children for school that you may not necessarily be able to fit breakfast in easily. In addition, because you may be in a hurry, you may be more inclined to give in to your child’s requests to not eat. Healthy breakfasts may take a while to prepare, but there are equally healthy options that can be prepared and eaten more or less on the run. Here are some tips for getting breakfast going in the mornings:
- Make sure that you always healthy breakfast options on hand in your kitchen
- As far as possible you should prepare breakfast the night before to save time in the mornings
- To ensure that everyone gets a chance to eat, make sure that they all get up about 10 minutes earlier than usual
- By involving kids in preparing breakfast you may be able to save time as well as inspire their interest in the food that they helped to prepare
- Make sure that you have plenty of grab-and-go alternatives such as fresh fruit, individual boxes of cereal, yogurt or smoothies, or trail-mix for those days where there is not enough time to eat at home
Sometimes kids are simply not hungry in the mornings and there is no way that you are going to force them to eat. Consequently you need to provide them with breakfasts that can be eaten on the bus or after their first class. Of course it is harder to ensure that they eat it, but it is worth a try with more responsible children. There are also schools that provide cheap or free breakfasts to children, but you need to educate your children as to the healthiest foods to select if they are going to eat breakfast away from home.
Some Breakfast Ideas
It is important that you try to provide breakfasts for your children that consist of all of the following:
It may seem like a tall order to include all of these in one simple meal, but it is a necessary that you at least try to do this as often as possible. Kidshealth.org has a number of ideas of healthy breakfast options that you can try with your children in the mornings:
- Whole-grain cereal topped with fruit and low-fat yogurt
- Whole-grain waffles topped with peanut butter, fruit, or ricotta cheese
- Whole-wheat pita stuffed with sliced hard-cooked eggs
- Hot cereal topped with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or cloves
- Peanut butter on a whole-grain bagel with fresh fruit (banana or apple wedges) and low-fat milk
- Breakfast smoothie (low-fat milk or yogurt, fruit, and teaspoon of bran, whirled in a blender)
- Vegetable omelet with whole-wheat toast and orange juice
- Bran muffin and yogurt with berries
- Hummus on whole-wheat pita and milk
- Lean turkey on a toasted English muffin and vegetable juice
- Heated leftover rice with chopped apples, nuts, and cinnamon, plus fruit juice
- Low-fat cream cheese and fresh fruit, such as sliced strawberries, on whole-grain bread or a whole-grain bagel
- Shredded cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla, folded in half and micro waved for 20 seconds and topped with salsa
It is also important to remember that children tend to learn by example. So this means that whatever you want them to eat, you must eat as well. By being a good role model, half the battle will already be won.
Getting your children to eat healthy meals can be something of an uphill battle for many parents. However healthy food does not have to be the same as boring food as there are a number of creative ideas that you could use in order to inspire interest in the breakfasts that you provide for your children. It is important that you set aside enough time in the mornings to adequately prepare breakfast for your kids without forgetting the extra time needed to wait for them to eat it.