A. A simple breakfast at home or at school can ensure that your child doesn't start the day hungry. It also ensures that your child gets the nutrients and energy he or she needs during the morning. Not only is breakfast important for proper nutrition and a healthy metabolism, it may also boost brainpower. The American Dietetic Association reports that children who eat breakfast have improved concentration, score higher on tests, behave better, and have improved attendance.
Q. What about sugary breakfast cereals? Aren't those bad for kids?
A. Ready-to-eat cereals are the #1 breakfast choice for kids, but you do want to be mindful of a child's sugar intake. One way to boost the nutrition is to mix sugary cereals with lower sugar types, which still satisfies their sweet tooth. Another idea is to add fresh fruit, like sliced bananas or strawberries.
Q. How can I make sure I'm serving the most nutritious breakfast?
A. A quick tip is to remember the ABCs. A - Add it up and include 3 of the 5 food groups. B - Be sure to include a serving of dairy for calcium. C - Cash in on the value of your school breakfast program if your kids don't have a chance to eat at home.
Q. Isn't chocolate milk full of sugar?
A. Chocolate milk has less sugar glass for glass than soda and juice drinks. In addition, kids love the taste, and chocolate milk provides the same amount of nutrients as white milk, such as calcium, protein and riboflavin.
Q. My child likes PB&J or leftovers in the morning. Is that OK?
A. Yes! It's not what they eat, but when they eat it that makes it "breakfast"! There's no rule that PB&J or dinner leftovers, such as a slice of pizza or macaroni & cheese, can't be eaten for breakfast. Non-traditional items help break breakfast boredom, but again, try to include at least 3 of the 5 food groups - grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and other calcium-rich foods, and meats, beans, fish and nuts - to boost the nutrition. Focus on a variety of nutrient-rich foods that provide the most vitamins and minerals for the fewest calories.
- PB&J - use whole grain bread and serve with chocolate milk and a sliced banana
- Pizza - opt for veggie pizza on whole wheat crust and serve with low-fat milk and applesauce
Q. What if we don't have time to sit down to breakfast?
A. Focus on grab-and-go foods. Here's a sampling of 3 quick and tasty breakfast ideas inspired by my kid's favorite foods:
- 1. Dog Gone - microwave a turkey sausage link and string cheese in a hot dog bun, and serve with low-fat milk and orange slices
2. Breakfast Burrito - fold scrambled eggs, salsa and reduced-fat Cheddar cheese in a whole grain tortilla and serve with pineapple chunks
3. "Ice Cream" - layer whole grain cereal with fresh berries and low-fat flavored yogurt in an ice cream cone
- A - Add it up - 3 of the 5 food groups for breakfast
B - Be sure to include a serving of dairy for calcium
C - Cash in on the value of your school breakfast program