Earlier this week, as my son was heading to the table for breakfast, he asked, “Mom, why don’t we get toast for breakfast?”
He’s six so his question shows his curiosity and interest in what he is doing and eating. His question also got me thinking about how to encourage our kids to develop good eating habits and understand the importance of having a balanced breakfast?
First of all, why is it important, for kids especially, to have a balanced breakfast?
- Research has shown that, kids who eat a healthy breakfast perform better in school.
- Eating breakfast also helps to steady blood sugar which in turn stabilizes behaviour and mood. Kids who skip breakfast tend to have a harder time controlling their moods and emotions, which is understandable if you’re hungry!
- Having breakfasts aids in weight management. Kids (or even adults) who skip breakfast tend to eat more junk food during the day.
So what exactly constitutes a balanced breakfast?
A balanced breakfast ideally has protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre as well as calcium and some fat. We really should try to avoid a sugary breakfast (especially those brightly coloured boxes of cereal*). Proteins help to give the brain and body a boost while carbohydrates aid in relaxation. Both are necessary for the optimal performance of the brain and body. Fibre in the breakfast helps with the steady absorption of nutrients so that the nutrients can be steadily released throughout the morning, preventing blood sugar dips or sugar cravings. Calcium has been shown to enhance behaviour and learning in children and fats enhance brain performance.
This all sounds like a lot to remember but it’s easier than you think to put together a quick, balanced breakfast. To help out, here a few ideas:
- Whole grain cereal with milk and fresh fruit*
- Whole grain toast with boiled eggs (you can boil the eggs the night before) and calcium-fortified 100% orange juice
- Melted cheese on toast with fruit
- Peanut butter on apple slices with a glass of milk
- Hot cereal with oats, wheat germ, dates, nuts and a glass of milk
*I’ll be posting about how to pick your cereal in my next blog
Of course, this is just a short list. There are tons of variations you can try that works best for your family. Just remember to incorporate proteins, complex carbohydrates with fibre and calcium with a bit of fat. The possibilities are endless. Get your kids to think of what they might want to eat and make a list to follow during the week. If they’re old enough they can help with the preparation which is a great way to build a positive relationship with food. If kids feel they have a choice then they’re more likely to eat what is served.