Breakfast: Benefits for children

By Kalyani Alladi, PhD, RD, LD, CDE, CNSC

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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.

Breakfast ideas

· 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.

Sources:

Healthy Breakfast (Mayo Clinic)

Ready, Set, Breakfast (Kids Health)

Healthy breakfasts for children (Nourish Interactive)

Related Posts:

Eat Right, Feel Right, Be Right

Nutrition for Children

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