What’s for breakfast? If you’re busy getting ready in the morning, the question may not even occur to you. But if your child goes to school and you don’t prepare breakfast, your child will be hungry in the classroom and won’t be able to concentrate on his or her studies all morning. That’s why you should feed your child a healthy breakfast before he or she leaves for school every day. Here are 10 tips on feeding a school-age child a healthy breakfast.
1) Breakfast Shouldn’t Be Junk
For busy parents, it can be tempting to slap something in front of their kids and call it breakfast. However, kids need much more than simple carbs and sugar to fuel their growing bodies. A proper breakfast should consist of proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins.
2) Eat Together as a Family
As adults, it’s easy to take breakfast for granted. The thought of adding yet another task to your morning routine probably doesn’t sound appealing, but those few minutes spent at breakfast can have a lasting impact on your child’s health and well-being. Eating breakfast together as a family is one of life’s simple pleasures that should be savored every day.
3) Don’t Cut Out Anything Entirely
It’s not realistic to expect a busy mom to follow an all-or-nothing diet. So don’t cut out anything entirely from your child’s breakfast or you may miss out on important nutrients. Instead, try adding healthy food options for your child at different times of day, so she can meet her nutritional needs without suffering from low blood sugar or hunger.
4) Limit Sugar
Sugar has no nutritional value and causes significant spikes in blood sugar, which is why it’s important to limit your intake of sweets for kids and adults alike. Sugar can also affect mood, so if you or your child is suffering from depression or anxiety, try cutting back on sugar first you might see a difference in symptoms.
5) Choose Whole Grains
The most important tip for feeding your school-age child a healthy breakfast is to choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat kinds of pasta, oats, and brown rice. They’re more nutritious than their refined counterparts and provide more fiber to fuel your child for his day. A good rule of thumb is that if it comes in a bag or box, it’s not likely going to be whole grain.
6) Include Protein
One of the most important things you can do to feed your child healthy breakfasts is to include protein in each meal. Protein increases satiety, meaning your child will be less likely to overeat at school. Good sources of protein include milk, yogurt, eggs, and cottage cheese. Instead of serving bagels with cream cheese and sugary fruit juice, make scrambled eggs with milk and whole-wheat toast instead.
7) Focus on Vegetables
Vegetables and fruit are critical for kids and adults to get their daily fill of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It can be tough for busy moms and dads to sneak in enough veggie servings to make everyone happy. To make life easier, pack your child’s lunch with nutritious veggies like carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers. Choose whole-grain bread and wraps when possible, too!
8) Make the Right Drinks Options Available
When making breakfast for your kids, provide options that support their healthy lifestyle. For example, rather than having soda in your fridge, keep water and milk on hand. And make sure you’re preparing some fruits and vegetables for them to eat or throw into their lunches. They won’t be able to make good food choices if you don’t provide healthy options the first thing in the morning.
9) Serve at Different Times of Day, Not Just in the Morning
A school-age child may be more receptive to eating healthy foods during other times of day, rather than just in the morning. A busy mom may want to consider packing her child’s lunch for school. If you don’t have time for that, use a parent helper in your home; take turns with other parents and rotate each week so everyone can get out from under their to-do list even just for an hour or two.
10) Pack it Up If Necessary
Kids are often just as hungry in the morning as they are at dinnertime, so it’s important to make sure they have plenty of good breakfast foods on hand at home. If your kid isn’t interested in eating right away, pack some breakfast foods in their lunchbox to eat when they get hungry (or sleepy).
For school-age children, getting enough nutrients every day is one of life’s challenges. Whether your kid brings their lunch or has to eat at school, it can be tough to maintain a healthy lifestyle but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips on making sure your child gets enough energy and nutrition with every meal.