One of the best things you can do as a parent is to feed your child (and yourself!) a solid, energy packed, nutritional breakfast.
But if your mornings are anything like mine, you are rushing around making lunches, packing snacks, picking out clothing, signing papers that didn’t get signed the night before, breaking up a sibling fight or two, feeding the dog, and actually getting dressed yourself because you simply cannot take your kids to school AGAIN in your robe! (Hey – we don’t have to get out of the car, right??)
So what CAN you do to beef up the nutritional content of your and your children’s breakfasts?
1) If you serve your children cereal*, make sure it meets 3 credentials. It should contain at LEAST 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving, 3 grams of protein per serving, and under 5 grams of sugar per serving. Unfortunately, most cereals out there do NOT meet these criteria. And guess what? Most cereals out there are NOT healthy. Don’t be fooled by marketing tactics and make sure to read the labels. Luckily for you, I have had my kids have go through a bunch of cereals that DO meet this criteria and have finally found two that that they love: Mesa Sunrise and Heritage Bites. Give them a try!
* The same 3 credentials apply to anything else your children eat such as waffles, french toast, etc. You especiallly need to watch out for the sugar content in syrup. One tablespoon has 14 grams of sugar! And did you know that it is recommended that children do not consume more than I6 grams of sugar per DAY? You can see how it adds up very quickly, so if your child does have syrup at breakfast, make sure you measure out a little bit and put it in a separate little bowl for them to dip.
2) Make sure your children drink a full glass of water. After a full night sleep, your children wake up dehydrated. Think about it. They are going 8 to 10 hours without anything to eat or drink. The healthiest thing they can do is drink a glass of water upon waking to get their juices flowing and to make sure they are fully hydrated before starting the day. To read more about why I am such a water fanatic, check out this post.
3) Serve fruit at breakfast. So many children do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables required for a healthy diet. The best thing you can do is have cut up fruit ready and waiting for them at the table BEFORE they wake up. Have the fruit and the water there but DON’T have the rest of their breakfast ready. This way when they first come downstairs and are ready to eat, their only options are water and fruit. Once they eat and drink a little, THEN serve their main breakfast.
4) Make sure some protein is included. If you are having one of the cereals mentioned in tip one, then your child will get some protein. But if not, you might want to consider having your child eat an egg, or some peanut butter or almond butter on toast. Oatmeal is another great source of protein. Click here to get the low down on oatmeal.
That’s it! These simple, easy changes can make a BIG difference nutritionally speaking. Heed these tips and your child will TRULY be eating a breakfast of champions!
Oatmeal has saved our breakfast routine and I agree boxed cereal is unhealthy. My biggest problem is packing lunch and trying to stay away from processed foods. Do you have any suggestions?
I try to stick to some kind of sandwich and I recommend Ezekial bread. It is the healthiest bread out there as it is made from organic, sprouted, whole grains and has no added sugar like most other breads. The crusts tend to be very hard, though, so I always cut them off or my kids won’t eat it. You can make turkey sandwich, almond butter and jelly (almonds are a great source of protein), or even an egg sandwich. If your child likes pasta, a healthy alternative to mac and cheese is making red lentil pasta, made solely from lentils and very healthy. I usually mix those in with whole wheat pasta and use marinara sauce. And then of course you should pack a fruit. My kids also love edamame and they are fun to eat and full of protein so I pack those too. I limit desserts at lunch to twice per week instead of every day, and it consists of one cookie. Just a little sweet finish but not too much. I hope this helps!