This week a new study was published by the nursing school of Pennsylvania looking at the effects throughout the day and throughout childhood of differing kinds of breakfast. Unsurprisingly, the study showed what all our parents told us to be true that breakfast is indeed “the most important meal of the day!" In reality though, for many parents and children, the mornings are already pressured and time is tight. Breakfast is often eaten quickly, with one foot out the door, in the car on the way to school or possibly in the case of 1/4 of Australian children, not at all! This week's blog aims to provide some information about breakfast and the role that it plays as well as some meal ideas!
WHY IS BREAKFAST SO IMPORTANT FOR CHILDREN? Eating a nutritious and filling breakfast helps energy levels for the entire day. As its name suggests, breakfast is the first meal since going to sleep at night. For children who are still growing, food is needed regularly to aid bone strength and to help their growth. It is even more important therefore, that they break their fasts with food that will replenish their glycogen stores which have started to diminish overnight. Most children also sleep for longer than your average adult and so have been fasting for longer.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EATING BREAKFAST? A good breakfast in the morning is linked in various studies to better concentration and focus throughout the day. Children who become irritable or restless later in the morning (possibly during class) have often not eaten the right breakfast and it's “fuel " has already burned off! Breakfast kick starts your metabolism for the day and gives you the energy for completing daily tasks. Skipping breakfast on a regular or even semi regular basis can lead to issues with weight control as the hunger felt later in the day is best satisfied by higher calorie snacks!
WHAT MAKES UP A GOOD BREAKFAST? Breakfast should be as high as possible in fibre, whole grains and protein whilst being low in sugar. Ideally there would be a balance of carbohydrate; protein and fibre. Options for fibre include - certain cereals or breakfast bars; some nuts and some fruits eg bananas. Carbohydrate options include - toast, some cereal bars, porridge or muesli. Examples of protein include - eggs, cheese, yoghurts and glasses of milk;
HOW TO MAKE BREAKFAST AN EASY AND NON NEGOTIABLE PART OF THE DAY: It helps to have easy options to offer your children in the morning. If they are old enough, and know where things are kept, have a shelf in your pantry where the breakfast things are and let them help themselves. As with most things in the morning, the key is in preparing the night before! If possible, have the cutlery and bowls etc. on the table ready and if you are home making smoothies or muffins make sure they are accessible and ready to go! For some people that might include remembering to defrost things. It also helps to show your children that you are eating something for breakfast too which sets an example that breakfast is important.
AND FINALLY... IF YOU ARE RUNNING LATE.... It happens to the best of us and here are 5 top solutions for if you need to give your child breakfast in the car - 1) single serving cereal packs 2) yoghurt tubes that they can suck 3) homemade muffin (they defrost very quickly) low sugar ideas include strawberry and cinnamon and zucchini and chocolate; 4) cut up fruit in a container 5) make a sandwich with wholegrain bread instead of toast!!