By Kalyani Alladi, PhD, RD, LD, CDE, CNSC
Breakfast is especially important for children and adolescents. According to the American Dietetic Association, children who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to meet daily nutrient requirements, concentrate better, have better problem-solving skills, have better hand-eye coordination, be more physically active, alert and creative, and attend school more regularly. Breakfast is the fuel that gets you going so you can hit the road.
Basics of a healthy breakfast
· Grains: Whole grain cereals or low-fat bran muffins (at least 50% of grains you eat should be whole grains)
· Low-fat protein: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dry beans, nuts and seeds
· Low-fat dairy products: Low-fat or fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese
· Fruits and vegetables: Fresh or frozen fruits, 100% juice beverages without added sugar, or fruit and vegetable smoothies
Eating a well-balanced breakfast improves intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals, especially iron and vitamin C. A good breakfast provides one-third to one-fourth of a day’s energy and nutrient needs.
· Whole grain cereal with fruit and low-fat milk
· Oatmeal with raisins and low-fat milk
· French toast, waffles or pancakes (try wheat or whole grain varieties)
· Hot cereal such as oatmeal or cream of wheat (try some dried fruit or nuts on top)
· Whole grain toast, bagel or English muffin with cheese
· Yogurt with fruit or nuts
· Fruit smoothie
Making time for breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast does not help maintain a healthy weight. In fact when you skip breakfast, you tend to eat more throughout the day. If there is no time to sit down and eat breakfast, you can have a grab-and-go breakfast that you can eat on the run.
· Single servings of whole grain cereal
· Yogurt and fresh fruit
· Whole grain muffin
· Trail mix of nuts, dry fruits, pretzels and dry cereal
· Breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheese and veggies wrapped in tortilla
· Grilled cheese or turkey sandwich with fresh fruit, juice or milk
· Leftovers from previous night
Breakfast can be a typical breakfast food, or leftovers from the night before. Breakfast can be served hot or cold, sitting down or eaten on-the-run. By choosing the right foods you will be able to able to fit a healthy breakfast in your busy schedule.
Healthy Breakfast (Mayo Clinic)
Ready, Set, Breakfast (Kids Health)
Healthy breakfasts for children (Nourish Interactive)