Updated June 17, 2015.
It is important to refuel after a night’s sleep. Our bodies have gone 8-12 hours without being replenished. We can’t expect to perform well without providing energy for our body to function. Think of it this way, your body is like your car, when the tank is empty you’re not going anywhere. It’s the same with our body. It needs fuel to function at the level we need it to in order to accomplish all we have to get done in a day.
It is especially important for high energy kids. Breakfast is like the kickstarter of our metabolism for the day. Our metabolism the process in which the body is able to convert food into energy. It wakes us up and gets us going. The food we eat in the morning floods our body with the energy we need both mentally and physically.
Skipping this first morning meal leads to grumpy, irritable kids, difficulty with concentration and lowered ability to perform in school. Also, when kids skip a meal they have a difficult time meeting nutritional needs for the day. Breakfast help kids to maintain a healthy weight and develop healthy eating habits. When we miss breakfast completely, by mid-morning we become are ravenous with hunger. Because we are so hungry, we grab food high in calories or overeat at lunch. School children that skip breakfast do not have access to food mid-morning and just experience hunger.
Not all breakfast foods are created equal. In fact, there are some “breakfast foods” that I count as a sometimes food.
Making good decisions about what we eat first thing in the morning will impact our whole day. Look for food high in nutrition and sustainability. Fiber and protein help hold off hunger longer. Eating high sugar foods like pastries and some ready to eat cereal will result in hunger pangs within an hour or two.
For a high nutrient breakfast use the ChooseMyPlate.gov diagram to help guide breakfast choices. Try to include at least 3 different food groups. For example, you could have a toasted whole grain bagel with and egg and slice of cheese. You could have this put together in less than five minutes and eat it on the way. On a morning when you have a minute to sit, there are whole grain cereals that are high in nutrition and dietary fiber include a piece of fruit and a glass of milk to keep it well balanced. Overnight oatmeal cooked through the night in a slow cooker with added dried fruit will help sustain kids and adults through lunch. Scrambled eggs really don't take that long to make if you have a skillet ready and hot. Add some cheese, tortilla and some salsa to make and egg burrito for the road.
At our house we love smoothies. Smoothies help to keep the integrity of the whole fruit so you don't lose the dietary fiber benefits of fruits like you can with juice. We keep one smoothie portion size bags of frozen fruit in the freezer. The bags include fruit or vegetables in our favorite combinations. You can also freeze yogurt cubes in ice cube trays and keep them in your smoothie bags. This will add protein to the smoothie. You can add milk or juice to your fruit in a blender and you have a smoothie within seconds. We found a small sport bottle blender that makes the smoothie and with the switch of the lid becomes the bottle to take with you.
There will be those days when you need to grab something quickly to eat on the way. Keep a bag of trail mix or granola in small portion bags that kids can eat on the bus or in the car. Keep fresh fruit on hand that can be eaten anytime for breakfast or snacks. Go to Super Healthy Kids for some delicious homemade grab and go granola bars.
Here are some other ideas to keep in mind to help mornings run a little smoother.
- The night before scramble two eggs, but do not cook them. Store them in a container with diced pepper and onion. It will be ready for the skillet in the morning.
- During the weekend prepare extra waffles or pancake that can be toasted and served on a busy weekday morning. This way you can control the ingredients using whole grain and less sugar and sodium. You can even use these to make a breakfast sandwich or wrap some fruit in a homemade pancake to take with you. PB&J pancake sandwich- Yummy
- Have healthy oat or bran muffins prepared and ready for a quick breakfast or snack before soccer practice.
- One of our favorite breakfast classic combinations is a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a sliced banana.
- Yogurt parfaits included layering fruit, yogurt and granola. Kids love to make their own flavor combinations. There are so many different types of yogurt available that you could combine all kinds of flavors, fruit and granola and let kids make their own book of parfait recipes.