We’ve heard it said time and again, breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day.
Why is that?
Let’s start with a quick lesson here… When your body is at rest overnight your glycogen stores become depleted.
Your body needs fuel to replenish these low glycogen levels and regulate your blood sugar.
In addition to blood sugar, your metabolism acts as a campfire that has cooled overnight and needs some fresh fuel to kick-start it back into action.
What does all of this mean for our children?
They NEED to eat a good, healthy, balanced breakfast NO MATTER WHAT so that they can function at their peak, lower their later risk of health problems, and think clearly.
Okay, but what exactly does a healthy diet look like?
There are so many conflicting ideas out there and so many labels to choose from.
What should you be feeding your children for the first meal of the day?
What if you have limited time to prepare foods?
What if your child just isn’t a “morning person” and doesn’t like to eat?
Read on for some amazing suggestions for all of these scenarios. You can do this and your children will be healthier and happier in the long run.
Let’s start with the idea that you should be feeding your child WHOLE FOODS.
Are you confused by this label? Don’t be, if it doesn’t come in a box it is likely a whole food.
These are unprocessed, natural, healthy options for our children.
These food items don’t contain additives, preservatives or dyes and are the hands down healthiest options out there.
If you want to combine foods and make your own breads, muffins, waffles etc, this is also a good option because in our home kitchens we don’t add colorants, preservatives and additives like many companies do.
We can also use healthier options for sweeteners such as honey or molasses in lieu of refined sugars.
For The “I Just Don’t Like To Eat Breakfast” Child
It can be a small item if your child isn’t into a big breakfast.
A banana, an apple, mango, a kiwi, some grapes, simple and small.
You can balance out the fruit with a few grams of protein by adding in some nuts or cheese to the “meal” and this is something that you can eat on the go.
Fruit usually comes in its very own “package” and can travel just fine in a pinch.
For The “I’m Starving!” Child
Eggs and whole grain bread.
This may take a bit more but pairing together a protein (egg) and a grain (whole grain bread/toast/etc) will help fill your child and stave off the appetite for several hours to come.
Be creative here, eggs can be prepared in so many ways, fried, scrambled, boiled or soft boiled.
For The “Super Hurried Out The Door” Child
Smoothies are a fantastic option and all the ingredients can be ready packaged ahead of time.
Most smoothies consist of a base of either juice or milk and frozen fruit.
It can take less than 2 minutes to dump a cup of frozen chopped bananas and a cup of milk into a blender, top it off with a tablespoon of peanut butter to add protein and you have a fast and nutritious whole foods breakfast.
For The “Less Than Regular May Need More Fiber” Child
Oats, Oatmeal, homemade granola and the like.
Starting off your day with some of the necessary fiber needed (children typically need at least 15-20 grams of fiber per day and adults need closer to 30 grams of fiber.
Up the ante a bit and add some chopped apples to the oatmeal and you have even more increased fiber.
For The Child Who Needs To Gain Weight
A larger variety of grains and proteins such as homemade pancakes, waffles, or French toast coupled with some eggs and a fruit along side of the plate as well as a large cup of milk or unsweetened fruit juice.
Those are some very specific ideas for specific types of situations and children, but what else should you be feeding your children?
Here is your list of 20 things they should be eating, and parents, variety is key here.
None of us likes to eat the same thing day in and day out, that is just plain boring so change it up from time to time.
- Eggs – A fantastic source of protein and Omega3’s. Scrambled, fried, poached, hard boiled, there are so many options here.
- Cheese – Cottage cheese, cheese curds, slices of Colby or Swiss cheese cut up alongside fruit. These are options that add protein, vitamin D, calcium and potassium.
- Yogurt – Unsweetened is best, and then you can add fresh fruit and sweeten with honey if desired.
- Milk – Added to a smoothie or over oatmeal it is another source of calcium and potassium as well as vitamin D.
- Bananas – Nature packaged them well for on the go eating, full of potassium, protein and fiber.
- Apples – Another nature-packaged, nutrient-rich food with plenty of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
- Oranges – Loaded with vitamin C, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
- Mango – Loaded with vitamin C, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium.
- Almonds – Potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium as well as protein.
- Cashews – Magnesium, iron and protein.
- Walnuts – Magnesium, iron, vitamin B6, calcium and fiber.
- Waffles – When homemade with whole grains and topped with natural sweetener such as honey this can be a super healthy option packed with fiber, protein and whole grains.
- Homemade Breads – When made with whole grains and natural sweeteners, another fantastic option for breakfasts.
- Muffins – Make them at home, pack them full of nuts or fruits and you multiply the nutritional value.
- Oatmeal – Good old oats topped with fresh fruit, sweetened with honey or molasses, a great source of fiber and iron and a good stick to your ribs kind of breakfast food.
- Granola – can be eaten plain, used as a yogurt topping or even eaten as a cereal. Very easy to make with minimal ingredients and so much healthier for you than store-bought.
- Cereal – Not the highly processed sugared kind but whole grain oats sweetened with honey or molasses.
- Smoothies – with a base of milk you have the added benefit of calcium and vitamin D as well as frozen fruit for sweetness and added nutrition.
- French Toast – made with wholesome whole grain bread and eggs and topped with a natural sweetener, this one wins at protein, fiber and good carbohydrates as well.
- Meat – bacon, sausage, ham, or even chicken mixed in with your eggs or alongside your bread items. These can add a significant amount of protein to your child’s daily diet.
There you have it. All whole foods that you can feed your children and feel good about.
When you make breakfast a priority in your home you are setting the tone for the entire day as well as fueling your child for success!