For parts 1 through 4 of Childhood Obesty–A Preventable Problem, I’ve been writing about ways to decrease obesity in our children:
- Decreasing TV, computer and video game time (“screen time”)
- Increasing physical activity
- How, when and where to eat—enjoying our food by sitting down at an eating place for both meals and snacks.
- Increasing fruits and vegetables
This article talks about breakfast; a meal that often gets the short end of the stick!
Mornings can be hectic and stressful—getting sleepy kids out of bed, dressed and ready to go to school or daycare, while mom and dad are trying to get ready for their own days is difficult at best. Our kids need a balance of foods that provide protein, carbohydrate and fat to fill them up and give them the energy and brainpower to concentrate at school as well as to get some vitamins and minerals into them. When you think about it, they have just gone 8 to 12 hours without food; their tanks are empty. A healthy breakfast is essential, if they are going to be at their best at school or play, and will help them to avoid overeating later in the day!
“That is all sounds great,” you say, “but really, who has time for an old fashioned hot breakfast, when it’s all a body can do to gulp something down before it’s time to get out the door for school or daycare?”
A nourishing breakfast does not have to be complicated or time consuming. We want some whole grain or starchy vegetable, protein, and fruit or vegetable. Think outside the breakfast box—a wide variety of easy to prepare foods will do!
- Whole grain cereal
- Rather than a sugared cereal–look at the label; a healthy cereal will have at least 3 gm fiber, and less than 5 gm sugar per serving). If your kids must have a sugared cereal, try using it just as a topping for a whole grain, sugar free cereal.
- Add nuts, milk and fruit to the cereal and you have a much more filling meal than a refined cereal with milk and nothing else.
- Have a glass of milk, a small yogurt, or a cup of cocoa made with milk and chocolate powder on the side to add some filling protein and calcium
- Peanut butter and jam on Toast with a yogurt and fresh fruit smoothie made in the blender.
- Breakfast “wrap”—
- Peanut or almond butter and banana rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla, with a glass of milk on the side.
- Beans and leftover chicken, with tomatoes cheese and avocado wrapped in a whole grain tortilla and heated in the microwave with a piece of fruit on the side.
- Plain Greek Yogurt plus fruit, dry oats and almonds or walnuts mixed together in a bowl, or mixed with a little milk and blended into a smoothie; if it is not sweet enough, add a squeeze of honey.
- Yogurt, granola or muesli and fruit parfait (layer plain yogurt with granola/muesli and fruit in a tall glass)
- Toasted whole grain bread or English muffin, hard cooked egg(s) and fruit.
- Whole wheat or corn tortilla topped with refried beans and cheese and heated in the broiler or microwave.
- Leftovers from last night’s dinner!
When you are in a really big rush, no time to sit down and eat, cheese and crackers and raisins , or a sandwich bag filled with cereal, dried fruit and nuts can be “breakfast to go”.
The bottom line is that a healthy breakfast sets your children up for a healthy day and the energy to deal with the stresses of school and relationships, and helps to prevent overeating later in the day. For more specifics, see Healthy Choices, Healthy Children, A Guide to Raising Fit, Happy Kids, by Lori Brizee with Sue Schumann Warner, published by Paraclete Press, October 2011, or check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kids’ nutrition page, http://www.eatright.org/kids/.