Mornings are often rushed, especially if you have kids getting ready for school. But research shows it’s important to make time for breakfast. Kids who eat breakfast perform better at school.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Wellness Services Team Leader Lori Howard shares tips to provide a nutritious breakfast for kids (and adults). She is a licensed, registered dietitian and mother of two children.
When trying to provide nutritious foods for the family, Lori offers these tips:
- Whenever you can, offer whole grains instead of white or refined grains. For example, 100 percent whole wheat toast instead of white toast or pancakes made with whole wheat flour instead of traditional buttermilk mix or oatmeal made from oats instead of from a packet that contains a lot of added sugar.
- Eggs prepared in any method are a great source of protein as well as lutein for eye health. You now can buy eggs fortified with omega 3 fatty acids.
- If your kids struggle to get fruit intake during the day, try freezing fruits such as peeled bananas, grapes or berries. Sometimes the cold texture tastes better for kids. Or you can blend different fruits to make smoothies using low-fat yogurt or low-fat milk.
- Yogurt is another breakfast item that contains protein and calcium. Add a crunchy texture like cereal or granola to provide extra fiber.
- Watch the sugary content in your breakfast cereals and keep the 4:1 ratio for total carbohydrate to sugar in mind when making your cereal selection. For instance, cereals that have 24 grams of total carbohydrate should not have more than 6 grams of sugar per serving. This ratio assures that a majority of the carbohydrates consist of grains and fiber and not just added sugar. If you’re pressed for time, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with taking cereal in a bag to-go.
- Vegetable juice is a great way to offer vegetables without a lot of prep work. Limit fruit juice because of rapid digestion that won’t hold appetite.
Eating breakfast not only helps kids to concentrate better and perform better on tests, but also may help your kids avoid a visit to the school nurse. Many kids mistake hunger pains for tummy aches. You can combine carbs and protein to slow digestion.
Be sure to talk with your kids about the importance of eating breakfast. Better yet, you can model it by eating breakfast yourself. The more meals you eat together as family, the more interaction you have with your kids. Research shows this can lead to fewer problems as an adolescent. If you struggle getting together for the evening meal, you might want to put effort into eating breakfast together, or with as many family members as you can.
Denise Pinkney is an editor/project leader in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.