Ensuring kids get a good nutritional start to the day.
One of the greatest nutritional challenges facing parents is getting their kids to eat a healthy breakfast. There are numerous studies that confirm the importance of a good nutritional start to the day. What prevents kids from getting this nutritional boost? The morning rush might not allow enough time for a healthy breakfast or kids may not be hungry right after rising. Nonetheless, to improve school performance young bodies need to be well nourished.
If the so-called “healthy” foods you see on store shelves contain a lot of ingredients, chances are they are chock full of sugars and artificial additives to enhance flavour and colour. This is unfortunately true for most cereals that appeal to kids; they are more like dessert than a nutritious breakfast food. In addition, they tend to be high in calories, refined carbohydrates and sodium.
Even those breakfast cereals that are marketed as containing whole grains and low sugar may not be an ideal choice. As a rule of thumb, look for cereals with a short ingredient list, some form of whole grains as the first ingredient, less than five grams of sugar and at least two grams of fibre.
Of course, breakfast doesn’t have to be cereal. There are a wide range of options. Even leftovers can make a healthy breakfast. The key is to provide three key ingredients – protein, whole grains, fruits or veggies.
Breakfast to go
Ideally breakfast is family time. But on weekdays, this can be difficult for some families. If time prevents your child from eating a good breakfast, take a few minutes before going to bed to get organized for the morning rush – set the table with bowls, cutlery, cereals, fresh and dried fruit, nuts and seeds. Even young kids can help out. The more your kids are involved, the greater the chance they will actually eat what’s in front of them.
Another option – also good for kids who don’t want to eat right away – is to pack breakfast to go. Try a high fibre granola bar or muffin that is low in sugar and fat with a piece of cheese, yogurt and fruit or a breakfast burrito. (See recipes.)
Kids are more likely to model what you do rather than do what you say. Since parents also benefit greatly from starting their day with a good balanced breakfast, why not make it a family challenge to come up with creative, nutritious and speedy options.