By Sue Baldani
September is Better Breakfast Month, which is a perfect time to make sure children (and parents) are starting the day off right. Eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast has many benefits and can affect how we feel throughout the entire day.
If we’re hungry, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. Learning new skills and absorbing information becomes more difficult when our bodies are in need of fuel. For youngsters, hunger can also lead to behavioral problems, which can disrupt learning even more.
Research has proven that children who eat healthy breakfasts and well-balanced lunches are often more alert, more productive and less tired and jittery during the school day. Foods and beverages that children often prefer for breakfast, such as high-sugar cereals and juice, can initially lead to a burst of energy that quickly dissipates, leaving them hungry and irritable.
One of the most common reasons for skipping breakfast is lack of time, but eating something healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming. Of course, it’s best to sit down, eat at a moderate pace, and then have some time to digest, but eating on the run is better than not eating at all.
Here are some quick and healthy meals that every child will enjoy:
- Low-sugar, whole-grain cereal with low fat milk and sliced banana. Instead of a bowl, put it in a travel mug or thermos and let your child eat it on the way to school.
- Oatmeal with fruit and low fat milk. Choose plain quick oats and add in a small amount of honey and fruit, and pop into the microwave. Most are ready in minutes.
- Whole wheat toast with peanut or other protein butter.
- Yogurt (buy it plain, since many yogurts have a surprisingly high amount of sugar), and mix in honey, nuts and fruit.
If children are allergic to any of the ingredients above, just substitute with a safe option. There are many alternatives available.
With meal delivery services these days, keeping these staples in stock is quick and easy. Or, take an hour on a weekend day and create a treasure hunt for your kids to find what’s needed for breakfast that week.
If possible, setting the alarm clock even 15 minutes earlier can give families some time to eat and talk about what they’ll be doing that day. It’s another chance to connect before the demands of our busy schedules take over.
Once children get into the habit of taking the time to eat a healthy meal, it will become another part of their routine. Parents can also set a good example by eating breakfast with their children. This way, healthy choices become a family affair.
Written for The Country Register newspapers distributed across the U.S. and Canada.