Fuel Your Child's Brain With Breakfast
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If there was a magic pill that could help your children focus and concentrate better, perform at a higher level in the classroom, have fewer behavioral problems and miss fewer days of school, would you give it to them? It’s readily available and comes in the form of a simple breakfast.
Studies have found “breaking the fast” from dinner to the next morning with breakfast provides needed energy for the body. It also supplies key nutrients such as calcium, fiber, protein and potassium, which growing children need. Skipping this key meal may not only potentially set children up for failure at school, but also be detrimental to their nutritional well-being.
In the scramble to get everyone ready for school, breakfast can get lost in the shuffle. Common excuses include, “I don’t have time,” “I have to finish my homework” and “I’m not hungry.” These hurdles can be overcome, but it starts with the adult, as that’s often their most influential role model. If you eat breakfast, they will see the value in it.
Tips for Breakfast Success
- Set your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier to ensure there is time for breakfast.
- Get kids ready for school first and then eat breakfast. Many times, they are hungrier when they are more awake.
- Plan ahead for the week. Based on preferences, involve your kids in planning menus in advance.
- Prep the night before to set your table for success. To save time the next morning, set out cereal, peanut butter and pre-cut fruit so everything is ready to go.
- Keep it simple. Breakfast meals don’t have to be fancy or elaborate to be healthy. A whole-grain cereal with berries and fat-free milk or Greek yogurt will fit the bill.
The Balanced Breakfast
Help your kids start their day with a breakfast that will sharpen their concentration. Try to include a source of protein, a healthy carbohydrate and a source of dairy.
- Power up with protein. This is a huge opportunity to help your kids stay full and focused until lunch. Choose a lean protein such as Canadian bacon, eggs, low-fat or fat-free milk, Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese or cottage cheese, tofu, beans or a higher-protein cereal such as Kashi® Go Lean Crunch.
- Energize with healthy carbohydrates. The brain and body prefer carbs as their main source of fuel. Start your day with oatmeal or whole-wheat pancakes with berries on top.
- Fruits and vegetables. These foods provide color, fiber and boost the nutritional value of breakfast. Try a smoothie that incorporates both fruits and vegetables. You can also try stirring vegetables into scrambled eggs for a color and fiber boost.
- Dazzle with dairy. Kids need calcium to build strong bones and teeth. Breakfast is a great time to include a serving of milk, yogurt and low-fat cheese. Non-dairy calcium sources include almonds, broccoli, kale, chia seeds, foods and beverages prepared or fortified with calcium such as tofu, some juices and some non-dairy milk products such as soy milk.
Make It Easy
- Yogurt Parfaits: Layer non-fat Greek yogurt with a whole-grain cereal and fresh or frozen berries or fruit of choice. You can also add in a healthy fat, such as almonds.
- Quaker® Weight Control Oatmeal: This oatmeal is higher in protein and fiber. Cook with fat-free milk (instead of water) and add fruit and nuts.
- Kashi® Go Lean Waffles: Top the waffles with non-fat Greek yogurt and fruit of choice.
- Peanut Butter Toast: Spread peanut butter on whole-wheat toast, top with sliced banana and add a cup of fat-free milk.
- Breakfast Soft Tacos: Fill a small whole-wheat tortilla with a mixture of one egg and two egg whites scrambled with a light Laughing Cow cheese melted in. Toss in vegetables of choice. Add an orange and a cup of fat-free milk.
For more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
Article provided by Patty Kirk, RDN, LD, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.