Breakfast – first meal of the day should be high in nutritional value and help to wake up your child in mind and body; make him active, not lazy or sleepy in school or day care.
As a parent concerned for child’s mental and physical well being, make it a habit to read the nutrition labels before buying quick-to-cook, ready to eat, easy to serve breakfast options.
As parent you should also understand that not all kids feel hungry first thing in the morning, so it is better not to push breakfast down their throats first thing in the morning. Instead pack a breakfast that they can eat a little later on way to school (on the bus) or before assembly, or if there is time, in between classes. Things like fresh fruit, cereal, nuts, a banana peanut butter sandwich etc are some nutritious, easy to make choices which children would eat without much fuss or mess, plus it’s convenient to take along.
If you’ve decided to opt for breakfast provided at school pantry, or if your kids eat breakfast outside the home, make sure you know what they are eating is healthy and nutritious or not. Teach them as to how to make healthy selections.
It is also important to know what you should not serve as breakfast to your child. Cakes, pastries, breakfast bars may be highly marketed items and parents on the run looking for simpler options may get tempted to try it but they aren’t good options. They may be easy to carry, save you from cooking yet another meal, and may even look appetizing but the fact is that they are high in sugar and calories, and not any more nutritious than a candy bar. These will not hold your child up until short-break or lunch time. If this happens remember all through the most important classes through the morning, your child will be distracted and mindless, feeling hungry and tired.
A balanced breakfast should comprise combination of carbohydrates, fibre, and protein. While the carbohydrates (found in whole-grain cereals, brown rice, whole-grain breads and muffins, fruits, vegetables) provide instant energy to body, energy sourced from protein (found in low-fat or no-fat dairy products, lean meats, eggs, nuts and nut butters, seeds, cooked dried beans) tends to take time to build and show up; meaning when energy from carbs is about to exhaust, protein replenishes that energy. And fiber (found in whole-grain breads, waffles, and cereals; brown rice, bran, and other grains; fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts etc) gives a feeling of fullness, as a result of which the child will tend to overeat. When this balance is combined with adequate liquid intake, fiber pushes the food through the digestive system. This will prevent constipation, and bring down cholesterol.
If you keep these simple facts in mind, it will help your children grow well, be healthy, will be alert in class and focus on studies, and be less cranky when they come back home.