Young minds and bodies need solid nutrition to keep up with the day’s demands. In the morning rush, breakfast is an important meal that is often missed.
The Importance of Breakfast for Children
Breakfast is literally breaking an overnight fast. Starting the day with a balanced meal can make a difference in health and academic performance. Studies show that kids who eat breakfast do better in school, have better concentration, perform better on standardized tests, have fewer behavior problems and are more energetic. Kids who eat breakfast are also more likely to maintain a healthy weight. A balanced breakfast includes the essentials:
Breakfast for Children: The Essentials
Help your kids get the morning nutrition they need by offering a variety of wholesome foods, providing a combination of healthy carbohydrates and protein.
- Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source for the brain. They’re digested quickly and jump-start thinking and learning. Look for whole grains, milk, fruits and vegetables. You can identify whole grain products by finding “whole wheat” or “whole grain” as the first ingredient. Or you can look for this handy yellow symbol, which indicates if that the food is a whole grain.
- Protein helps kids maintain the level of energy and fullness they need to get them through the morning. It is found in meat, beans, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese. Be sure to power up your breakfast with this important nutrient!
Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Children
Now that we’ve talked about the categories of foods that help kick-start the morning, how do you put it all together to form a meal? Here are some breakfast ideas that are quick and simple to fuel the start of the day:
- Cereal high in fiber and low in added sugars, with low-fat milk and berries
- Yogurt parfait – plain yogurt, fruit, and low-sugar cereal
- Whole wheat toast, eggs, and a banana
- Whole wheat bagel with cheese or eggs with low-fat milk
- Peanut butter on whole wheat English muffin with low-fat milk
- Grilled cheese on whole wheat bread and fruit
- Low sugar oatmeal topped with nuts and berries
- Scrambled eggs with pre-chopped veggies (chop vegetables like peppers and squash a couple of days in advance and seal in an air-tight container)
- An apple topped with peanut butter and low-fat milk
- Whole grain waffle with banana slices and peanut butter
- More more ideas can be found on a related blog post: 7 kid-friendly breakfast ideas
Planning Past Breakfast
While these nutritious foods are especially important for breakfast, it’s important to keep the momentum going for the rest of the day.
So while you’re planning your child’s school, sport, and extracurricular activities, schedule time for healthy meals and snacks too. If you’re looking for more helpful tips and ideas, kidseatright.org and choosemyplate.gov are great resources for healthy recipes, daily meal plans and nutrition information.