Children need a nutritious breakfast every day to set them up for success. But getting your kids to eat something before school is not always easy, especially if you are a health-conscious parent. Don’t give up. Some simple tips and fun ideas can help.
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Pediatric registered dietitian Jennifer Willoughby says building a better back-to-school breakfast starts with two key components.
“It’s really important to give them something with a protein and something with a carbohydrate — preferably a whole grain or a piece of fruit. You want them to eat a breakfast that will fill them up and keep them full when they go in for that first class of the day,” she says.
Getting a good start
A healthy first meal gives kids the energy and balanced nutrition they need to start their day. It improves learning and behavior. Additionally, new research shows that a good breakfast helps keep children at a healthy weight and can help prevent childhood obesity.
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A few tasty suggestions
Some plain Greek yogurt and a handful of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal provide a great breakfast before school, Ms. Willoughby says. Add apiece of fruit or berries and you’ll make it that much better. The fiber content will make your kids feel fuller, longer.
Some other high-quality options include:
- A piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter
- Plain oatmeal with some peanut butter or mixed nuts as your protein source
- A hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit
A healthy variety is important
You can also find a number of nutritious, delicious and fun recipes that will help get the kids to eat breakfast. Just as with your other meals, you should offer a variety of foods, including:
- Grains ( make at least half your grains whole grains)
- Protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, nuts and seeds)
- Dairy products (low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt)
Have some fun with it
Mix it up. Have your kids try a fruit smoothie. Another popular option is a banana dog (peanut butter, a banana and raisins in a long whole-grain bun). Or try an easy breakfast taco (shredded cheese on a tortilla, folded in half and microwaved — topped with salsa).
Always make sure your children have water or a glass of milk before school each day. Juices are especially high in sugars and should be avoided.
The protein/carb combination is key
The foundation of a great breakfast for your children, Ms. Willoughby says, is that combination of a protein and a carbohydrate to fuel the body and the brain.
The best part is that a healthy breakfast can be quick and easy, too.
“It doesn’t take a lot of effort,” she says. “Have things ready in the morning that they can just grab and go, even if they just do something as simple as a glass of low-fat milk and a baggie of cereal on their way to school. You still want to have that pairing there, but it can be easy. It can be fun.”