Food & DrinkHealthy breakfasts for children: It's all about balance

Healthy breakfasts for children: It’s all about balance

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A healthy breakfast is vital for children. If they don’t eat breakfast, your kids will spend the day trying to get those nutrients back, says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Growing bodies and developing brains need regular, healthy meals. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, studies show that school-age children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom.

As with other meals, it’s a good idea for your children (and for you) to eat a balanced serving of fruits and vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy, and not just at breakfast but throughout the day.

Here are seven practical rabbits from Dr. Adler to ensure your children start their day off right.

Use the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list when you shop.

When you’re shopping for groceries, the food label makes it easy to determine the amount of nutrients your children are consuming and to compare one product to another. Make sure your children eat nutrient-dense foods that are low in sodium and added sugars.

Explore other meals than traditional breakfasts.

Breakfast doesn’t have to always be traditional breakfast foods. Any food can be prepared as long as a healthy balance is maintained. So if your kids want to eat something other than cereal and eggs, consider serving leftovers from the day before. There’s nothing wrong with serving tuna with celery on top of an English muffin or turkey sandwich to start your day.

Give your children what they like.

A slice of leftover pizza made with whole wheat dough with vegetables for breakfast also works. Or you can make pumpkin and carrot muffins and spread peanut butter or almonds on them for protein and a glass of milk. Do your kids love sugary cereal? Mix some of that cereal with a healthier brand of whole wheat cereal. “Nothing can be completely off-limits, and often just trying a little something they like is enough to keep them happy,” says Adler. 

Make healthy trades.

Remember that nutritional balance is key, not just for one meal but for all meals throughout the day. Add fruit to breakfast and serve carrot sticks, with celery and broccoli with a hummus dip as a spread for an afternoon snack.

Take into account growth and activity levels.

A growing body needs nutrition. If your children are physically active to start the day with energy they need enough calories to stay active. Adler says that a breakfast with protein, fat, and carbohydrates helps kids feel full and stay focused until lunch. Protein options may include eggs, nuts or a slice of deli meat or cheese, or a glass of yogurt.

Help your kids make healthy choices, even if they’re in a hurry.

When you’re in a hurry, give your kids something healthy before you head out, like a piece of fruit, a bag of nuts and dried fruit or a slice of whole wheat bread with peanut or almond butter and a small box of fortified soy or milk .

Prepare from the night before.

The morning is busy for everyone and also for you. Take ten minutes to think and prepare for breakfast from the night before. Cut fruit into slices to put in yogurt or add to cereal. Cut up some vegetables to make an omelet. Mix whole grain batter for waffles or rolls, cover, and store in the fridge.

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