Getting Your Child a Healthy Breakfast On the GoAuthor: Israa Alia, RDN, MBA Date: August 06, 2019
You’ve heard it before, and it’s true: Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast means “breaking the fast,” and that’s exactly what it’s doing — by breakfast time, your child has been fasting for eight to 12 hours. A healthy breakfast helps them get through the school day successfully:
- It gives children the energy they need to learn and focus at school.
- It helps improve their mood, behavior, and memory.
- It gets their metabolism going early in the day, which helps them maintain a healthy weight.
Making Breakfast Healthy and Simple
Having a healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be hard! In the rush to get ready for school, these on-the-go breakfasts are quick and nutritious:
- Try Greek yogurt with fruits, chia seeds, flax seeds, or granola.
- Make a quick breakfast with our smoothie recipes! Start with cow’s milk or soy milk and add avocados, kale, cucumbers, or cauliflower — they add a lot of vitamins without changing the taste.
- Serve sliced carrots with hummus as a dipping sauce.
- Buy granola bars that aren’t high in sugar or sodium. Or you can make your own granola bars the night before.
- Spread some peanut butter on a whole-grain tortilla and wrap a banana in it.
- Try hard-boiled eggs with chopped raw vegetables.
- Spread avocado on whole-grain toast and garnish with ricotta cheese.
- Make a cold pasta or bean salad the night before. You can try an edamame, feta, or chickpea salad with honey garlic lime vinaigrette, or a colorful quinoa salad. Try this Mediterranean salad recipe.
- Make healthy breakfast muffins with whole-grain flour and fill them with nuts and chia seeds.
For younger children, simpler is better — finger foods are the easiest to eat. But be careful to avoid foods that could be choking hazards — grapes, popcorn, nuts, or anything else small and round.
Something Is Better Than Nothing
If you run out of time and need the quickest breakfast you can find, there’s no shame in store-bought or prepackaged breakfast foods. Many products can provide the protein and calories children need without a lot of sugar or salt.
When you’re shopping for packaged breakfast foods, remember to read the nutrition label. Look for foods with fiber and protein, and avoid foods with a lot of sodium, saturated fat, and sugar. Try to find a few good products you know you can buy when you’re in a hurry.
The bottom line is this: When it comes to breakfast for your child, something is better than nothing!
What About Lunch?
Good nutrition doesn’t stop with breakfast! For a healthy, energizing lunch, try to include all the following items:
- One serving of fresh fruit: apples, melons, bananas, or berries.
- Two servings of vegetables: carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes.
- One serving of whole grains: whole-grain pasta, whole-grain bread, brown rice, or oats.
- Optional: One serving of dairy: low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or string cheese. Pro-tip: Mix a ranch seasoning packet with Greek yogurt and use it instead of ranch dressing!