Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Breakfast: A Healthy Start to the Day

Breakfast options
We've all heard it before. A healthy breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As a child, I remember my grandmother making us oatmeal for breakfast when we would stay over, and her saying that it would "stick to your ribs." {I thought it was actually going to stick there... because it was sticky}  As a parent, I can now see in my children the importance of breakfast, and how it affects their moods, attitudes, energy levels, concentration, and performance.
Apple Cinnamon Pancake

 On a typical night, my kids go to bed at 8:00pm. So let's say the last time they ate something was at 7:00. When they wake at 7:00 in the morning they have had nothing in their system for at least 12 hours. The problem is that brain (and central nervous system) runs on glucose. It is the fuel needed to think, walk, talk, etc. If you skip breakfast, and deprive the brain of glucose in the morning, the brain has to work extra hard to break down stored carbohydrate, or turn fat or protein into a usable form so that the brain can function.

 In my kids, this is displayed as grumpy boys with poor attitudes and low energy. Not my idea of a fun morning.

 But... What they eat for that first meal of the day is very important. The breakfast foods that are advertised for our kids contain way too much sugar, way too little protein and not the right kind of fats for our kids' needs.

Check out the info graphic below. It displays the 10 worst breakfast cereals based on their % of sugar by weight.These are all cereals that are heavily marketed to children, and are full of added sugars.

 Worst Breakfast Cereals

For kids over 2 years old, a healthy balanced diet should include 50% to 60% of calories consumed coming from carbohydrates. The key is to make sure that the majority of these carbs come from good sources and that added sugar in their diet is limited. (source)

Children ages 4 to 8 should consume no more than 12.5 g of added sugars per day (source). Of the cereals displayed on the left, Honey Smacks is the highest and has 15g per serving, and Fruit Loops is the lowest with 12g. Just one serving of cereal contains all of the added sugar a child should have for the entire day!

I don't know about you, but I grew up eating all of these!   

So what is a better option for a healthy breakfast? 

1) Plain Oatmeal. Flavored at home with fruit, honey, or maple syrup.  (Peaches & Cream)
2) Plain Yogurt. Again flavored at home with fruit, honey, or maple syrup.
3) Smoothie. Pack the blender with super foods, fruits, and even veggies (the kids will never know).
4) Eggs. Hard boiled, scrambled, sunny side up, in a frittata, on a sandwich. The possibilities are endless.  
5) Toast with Natural Nut Butter. Just make sure the toast is made from 100% whole wheat bread, or sprouted bread.
6) Apple Cinnamon Protein Pancake. This gets your kids to eat 1 egg, 1 banana, and 1/4 apple, and they think they are getting a pancake. Win win.
7) Cereal. Wait what? Yes cereal can be a healthy breakfast option! Just look for something with less than 5 grams of sugar, and preferably less than 5 ingredients, and serve with some fruit!   
8) Home Baked Breads/Muffins. I like to bake and freeze healthy breads or muffins for mornings when we are running late. I can warm one of these up and pair it with a glass of almond milk for a quick and healthy breakfast on the go.

Oatmeal with Berries

So what are your breakfast favorites? What do you grab in a pinch?

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  1. I could now notice in my kids the importance of breakfast time, and how this affects their own moods, behavior, energy levels, focus, and overall performance.

  2. The breakfast foods that are advertised for our kids contain way too much sugar, way too little protein and not the right kind of fats for our kids' needs.


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