Author: Staff Writer - Sep 16, 2013
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. It’s a cliché, but it’s completely true. With the arrival of fall and our children going back to school, it’s time to make breakfast a priority and give them the best possible start to the day.
Why is eating breakfast good for us?
We don’t eat while we’re sleeping, so by the time we wake up, it’s been 10 to 12 hours since we’ve had any food. Having breakfast replenishes nutrient stores, giving kids the energy and focus they need for the day ahead. But breakfast does more than satisfy our hunger pangs.
There is a wide array of research evidence that shows eating a healthy breakfast helps children perform better at school. Breakfast improves their ability to learn, concentrate, remember and behave, and it benefits their overall mood. For example, in one study of over 1,200 kindergarten children, those ate breakfast daily had higher IQ scores than the kids who didn’t.
Children who have breakfast are also more likely to eat better overall and maintain a healthy weight. In one survey of 11-year-olds, 13-year-olds and 15-year-olds, those who ate breakfast regularly were also more likely to munch on a higher number of fruits and vegetables. Other research indicates that breakfast skippers are more likely to be overweight.
Unfortunately, according to Breakfast for Learning, 31% of elementary and 62% of secondary school students attend school without a healthy breakfast due to poverty, lack of time, or their parents’ lack of awareness about the importance of healthy eating.
The Components of a Healthy Breakfast
The best way to start the day is by eating a meal that has healthy fats, good quality protein and complex carbohydrates. These three elements give our children the essential sustenance they need to learn, and keep their blood sugar levels balanced, so they have a slow release of energy and brain-boosting nutrients throughout the morning.
Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Kids
• A smoothie packed with fresh fruit, nut or seed butter, and spinach (your child won’t taste the spinach, and will get a kick out of the funky green colour).
• Organic eggs (poached, scrambled, hard-boiled, etc.) served over steamed or roasted veggies, greens, sweet potatoes, salsa or beans, or roll the eggs up in a wrap.
• A bowl of whole-grain oatmeal, topped with cinnamon, nuts and dried fruit. You can also make oatmeal savory by adding your child’s favourite cooked veggies, along with a sauce like soy sauce or tomato sauce. Or, you can use another grain, like buckwheat or millet.
• Whole grain toast (or gluten-free toast) spread with mashed avocado and tomato, nut and seed butters, or mashed sweet potato
• Last night’s leftovers. Breakfast doesn’t have to be dominated by cereal and toast. You can heat up dinner items like chilis, soups, stews, lasagne or pasta and have them in the morning.
No time for breakfast?
For some families, mornings include a flurry of activity and a hectic scramble to get out the door. If you’re in a time crunch, here’s how to ease the breakfast burden:
• Prepare as much as possible the night before. For example, if you plan to make veggie omelettes, whisk up your eggs, slice your veggies, and mix them together. Then all you have to do is throw the mixture in a pan the next morning.
• Batch cook breakfast items. Make a large pot of oatmeal that you can eat throughout the week (if the oatmeal gets dry, you can add some extra liquid when you consume it). You can also blend a large batch of fruit, pour it into muffin tins, and freeze. Pop out the frozen fruit muffins and use them to make fresh smoothies by adding some juice or non-dairy milk.
• Get your kids involved. If your children are old enough, have them participate in food preparation and allow them to have menu input (within reason, of course!). Not only will this make the process quicker and easier, but it’s more likely that kids will want to eat what you serve.
• Make it portable. If you simply can’t make it to the table each morning, prepare items the kids can eat while in the car or on the bus. Hand-held items like breakfast wraps or smoothies are easy to grab and go.
What is your favourite all-time breakfast? Please share in the comments!