The summer is winding down and kids are getting back into the struggle of an early morning routine. Some days it feels like a victory that you got them dressed and to class on time. One part of your child’s morning which is often overlooked – but shouldn’t be – is getting a good breakfast.
Did you know that children who eat a healthy breakfast perform better in school than those who eat sugary cereal or nothing at all? Here are some specific reasons making sure a balanced breakfast is a priority for your child:
Better Cognitive Function
have shown that kids who eat a healthy breakfast can better memorize, focus, create and learn than those who don’t. Children attending school without the proper nutrition begin their day at a disadvantage.
More Energy - Children who come to school after having eaten sugary cereal may seem energetic at first, but it isn’t long lasting and they will soon crash – long before the school day has ended. A balanced breakfast properly maintains blood sugar, which sustains necessary energy throughout the day.
More Stable Moods - With the dramatic drop in blood sugar after consuming a sugary breakfast (or not consuming breakfast at all), children’s behavior can be erratic and difficult for them to manage. Even basic responsibilities like focusing and staying on task can be a major struggle when their energy and blood sugar are depleted.
Let’s not forget the root words that make up breakfast: break and fast. Breakfast is a literal breaking of a fast: because we have been sleeping for several hours, we are fasting. When we wake up, we need to supply our body with the proper nutrients to take on our day. This is especially true for growing children.
Calcium - Bone building and maintenance is necessary for all growing kids. Children ages four to eight need around 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, and 1,300 milligrams a day for children nine to 18 years old.
Protein - Protein makes up most of our bodies. Our organs, muscles, skin and tendons are comprised of protein. Who more than a growing child needs protein? Children four to six years old need 0.5 grams of protein per pound of their body weight. Children seven to 14 need 0.45 grams of daily protein per pound of body weight.
Fiber - Our digestive systems depend on fiber to work the way they are supposed to, and fiber keeps us filling fuller longer. Children between ages four to eight years old should get 25 daily grams of fiber. Girls ages nine to 18 should receive 26 daily grams of fiber. Boys nine to 13 should receive 31 grams of daily fiber and older boys, 14 to 18 should receive 36 daily grams of fiber.
We know it’s hard to keep track of all the things that need to happen just to get the day launched. Below are a few simple breakfast recommendations to make getting out the door easy while taking the time to be healthy:
Whole Grain Cereals/Oatmeal - There are a lot of tasty options for cereal that are also healthy, including oatmeal. Look for the oatmeals and whole grain cereals that have low added sugar. Both options do well to fill you up with fiber and get extra vitamins in. Children need two to three servings of whole grains a day, and breakfast is a great time to start.
Fruit - Fruit fills the fiber category. Low added-sugar fruit juice counts as fruit, although a smoothie or just eating fresh fruit are better for getting more fiber.
Low-fat dairy - Children need their calcium, so low-fat milk or yogurt can really do the trick. However, not every kid was meant to consume lactose, and options do exist for these kids, too, such as almond milk or soy milk.
Lean Protein - Think less bacon, more Canadian bacon/ham. Egg muffins can be delicious and nutritious if you make them with whole grain muffins, lean ham, eggs and some good cheese. Also breakfast burritos with these same added ingredients can provide your child with proper amounts of protein.
We all want to give our children every advantage we can to perform well in school: help with homework, nice clothes and self esteem – so why not throw proper nutrition into the mix? Mom and Dad need to eat a good breakfast, too, as role models. Your kids may not take time to thank you for it now, but they will when they are in your shoes.