We are constantly told about the importance of breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day they say and as parents, we feel that we've got to try and get something in our child before they head out the door. While we can exert some form of control over their diet, such as making healthy swaps for their evening meals so we can get some form of vegetable into them for the evening meal, but breakfast can seem a little on the precarious side. But is breakfast actually that important? And what do we need to do to ensure that our children have a healthy start to the day?
The Importance of Fueling Our Children Properly
Perhaps we need to change our perspective of what breakfast really entails. While we may think that our children need a certain amount of carbohydrates to set them up for the day we can sometimes look at a portion of breakfast from our perspective rather than our children’s. We need to fuel our children properly but when our children don't want to eat straight away, it could very well be the fact that they have woken up late. It could also be the very simple fact that they don't like any of the breakfasts you have on offer. While as adults we may not feel hungry right away, we’ve got to think about this in terms of our children. So perhaps getting them up a bit earlier so they can work up an appetite may be a suitable solution, especially if they are not eating much during lunchtime or even during their evening meal. This means that you need to shake it up a bit. You can find a bunch of favorite savory oatmeal recipes for kids online but also think about food as fuel that they would actually like to eat.
It doesn't necessarily mean you should relent and give them some and healthy foods but you can use healthy foods as a base to make it feel a little bit of a cheat for kids. Oatmeal is a fantastic example because you can flavor it with so many things that children like. For example, you can use cacao, which, in its basic essence, is chocolate. Putting this into a bowl of oatmeal with a tiny bit of honey or agave nectar can make it feel sweet and chocolatey while still giving them adequate energy for the day. We also need to stop fearing the fat. Fat is a fantastic energy source and fat is the body's preferred choice. While there's a lot of debate between carbohydrates as energy versus fat as fuel debate that is still going on, you may want to sit down with your child and ask them what makes them feel satisfied. Fat is a very useful ingredient to have, and something as simple as buttery toast can give them the fuel needed to last all morning. Fat is crucial, especially for growing children, but make sure it's healthy fats.
The Long-Term Effects of Eating a Good Breakfast
Whether our children are hungry or not it is vital that they have a good breakfast, especially if they have nothing else. While we, as parents, are fully grown, we've got to remember that our children will require significantly more forms of energy to withstand their day. We've got to think about the fact that they are growing in mind and body and when our children eat a good quality breakfast, they will fare better throughout the day. Because children have a high metabolic turnover which means that they digest things quicker and turn it into energy faster than we do, they will have higher demands on their energy stores, especially as they sleep.
Children sleep longer than adults and they need to for their overall health. As a result, they will go without food for longer than we do, and when giving them a nutritious breakfast this will help to oxidize their glucose, in other words, give them energy. If their blood glucose levels are low, the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline will release and this can affect their concentration and energy levels. If you remember when you were in school, there was a significant strain on you throughout your school life. Put simply, having a good breakfast can even out a lot of these issues.
How Can We Incorporate a Healthy Breakfast Into Our Lives?
It isn't just about our children but it is about us too. We must remember that if our children see us avoiding breakfast, it's likely that they will do the same. And when we are so busy trying to get everyone ready it can seem that breakfast is the least of our worries, especially if we don't need it. But there are ways that we can incorporate the basic ingredients of what comprises a healthy breakfast. We might not necessarily need to incorporate a full bowl of cereal if we don't want it, but this is when we can start to get smarter with how we prepare things. If you are someone who needs a healthy dose of fat at breakfast time and is someone that enjoys putting butter or coconut oil into their coffee, incorporating this into a meal for our children can give them energy. MCT oil is a fantastic resource that provides a healthy dose of fat but without the energy crashes that some people experience with carbohydrates. But this is where we have to speak to our children to get an understanding of what they need to feel full before heading for the school bus. It could be about giving them a slice of toast and some scrambled eggs with plenty of butter, which will incorporate carbohydrates for energy, protein for growth, and essential fats.
Another thing you could do to give your children an energetic breakfast is to make bars. You can make oat bars easily and load them full of nuts and seeds which are full of healthy fats and protein. When you are on the go, it's important to find a good quality energy source that doesn't cause a dip. When our children need some form of energy for the day, they might be someone who doesn't necessarily have a big breakfast but may have a bigger lunch. In terms of their energy expenditure, it all depends on what they are doing that day. It's not just about the physical activities, but the mental ones as well. This is something we've got to remember, because our energy is used by our brains as well. But if food is an issue with your child and they don't tend to eat much during the evening meal, breakfast is where you've got to build up a ritual of sorts. Waking them up a little bit earlier to ensure that they have a good quality breakfast could be all they need for the day. This is where we got to think about macros, such as the right amount of protein for their body weight, as well as the energy they require.
It can take some time to get this just right but if you want your children to focus better in school and have fewer dips in energy, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While these days there's a lot of arguments to say that people should fast more, when it comes to our children, they have to utilize a good quality energy source. In this respect, the right breakfast is essential.
CANDY TAI is a wife to David and mom of 5 with a degree in Communications. She's a native Texan (Hook 'Em Horns!) who's been making her home in the Kansas City metro area for nearly 15 years. She loves being able to shuffle her kids from their various sports activities, piano lessons, and school activities. She enjoys fashion, beauty, reality TV, and moviegoing.